The undisputed king of the SUV segment is none other than the Toyota RAV4, at least as far as sales go. For many years, the Toyota RAV4 has been the reigning champ among the best-selling SUVs all over the world. It’s no surprise because the RAV4 is a true crowd-pleaser and has everything most people need from a two-row SUV.

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The combination of high-reliability ratings and a roomy interior makes the RAV4 an attractive option for SUV buyers. Although the RAV4 is a super popular SUV, it’s far from a perfect vehicle, and like all models, it also has some weaker areas. Let us look at the worst Toyota RAV4 models ever produced. 

2019 Toyota RAV4

2019 Toyota Rav4 Models
2019 Toyota Rav4 Models

Despite being a modern-day car and having a wide array of advanced features, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 is beaten by models decades older and inferior to it simply due to the high amounts of problems and complaints raised by the NHTSA and customers.

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These problems include those related to the transmission, engine, drivetrain, and fuel system. The transmission had the issue of lurching at slower speeds, often hesitating. This would get very annoying, very fast.

The engine is not well optimised, having very audible and loud acceleration. Sometimes the vehicle does not accelerate at all! The fuel system received the brunt of the criticism. The system had a bug that prevented the gauge from showing the fuel tank as full. 

2020 Toyota RAV4

2020 Toyota Rav4 price in Nigeria Reviews and Buying Guide
2020 Toyota Rav4 price in Nigeria Reviews and Buying Guide

The 2020 Toyota RAV4 started out of the gates with an immediate recall as the car was leaking coolant.

This only made things worse as the car still had issues that carried over from the previous models, such as steering problems and transmission issues, which were the same as in the 2019 model.

The fuel economy did not help either, as the car had a very low fuel economy. This is sad, as newer models shouldn’t suffer from problems that should have been fixed years ago.

2006 Toyota RAV4

Used Toyota RAV4 2006
Used Toyota RAV4 2006

The 2006 Toyota RAV4 made its debut as the first model of the 3rd generation. Unfortunately for Toyota, this would be a huge mistake, as the 2006 RAV4 model was plagued with various issues. This model had a diverse set of suspension problems, transmission problems, engine problems, and airbag issues.

The suspensions were of poor quality, which made the vehicle shake on the road. The engine consumed oil at a dizzying rate, while the steering was clunky and noisy. The airbag connector failed to work, and sometimes the whole system would just stop working altogether. This would worsen over time.

2007 Toyota RAV4

Tokunbo 2007 Toyota RAV4
Tokunbo 2007 Toyota RAV4

After a bad launch of the previous model, you would think that Toyota would try to remedy the situation and release a much better model.

Instead, they released an even more broken product in the form of the 2007 Toyota RAV4, which the NHTSA bombarded for its engine, suspension, and steering problems.

The same problems existed in the last model, but they are now much worse and more common. Oil consumption was at its peak, and the clunky and noisy steering was still not fixed. Moreover, there were various electrical issues in the car as well.

 2008 Toyota RAV4

Nigerian Used Toyota RAV4 2008
Nigerian Used Toyota RAV4 2008

Following two years in a row of bad models, the 2008 Toyota RAV4 decided to be equally problematic, if not more.

The same problems that caused the previous two models to receive bad reviews popped up again. This included the issues with the steering and the engine, which were all but fixed. The engine still consumed a lot of oil, and the steering was still making a noise when turning the wheel. It is quite disheartening to see the same few issues only grow over three years in three models.

2001 Toyota RAV4

Foreign Used 2001 Toyota RAV4
Foreign Used 2001 Toyota RAV4

After a very successful first generation, it was hard to see Toyota mess up its next big model, which is the 2001 Toyota RAV4. However, they released a product far from perfect, which many regards as the most pathetic when it comes to transmission.

Despite the new design, the car came with a horrible transmission, which was not enjoyable to shift and move from gear to gear, regardless of how the transmission felt. It would eventually fail due to a module problem. The model also suffered from the engine, electrical, and drivetrain problems.

2002 Toyota RAV4

2002 Toyota RAV4
2002 Toyota RAV4

As I have mentioned before, Toyota is nothing but consistent. It can be consistently good or consistently bad. This case of consistency was not appreciated as the 2002 Toyota RAV4 has had the most complaints out of any of the models released before or after. The transmission issue from the 2001 model carried over.

The engine control module was prone to failure and overheating. The NHTSA called out the drivetrain and linked it to the horrible transmission problems, which included the car erratically shifting and jerking during a normal ride.

What are the common problems with the Toyota RAV4?

As you have seen with the worst years, Toyota is not problem-free, and this also includes problems found in the RAV4.

Here are a few common problems that the RAV4 has suffered from throughout the years:

  • Excess oil consumption

This is a common problem found in various cars from different companies. Still, unfortunately, it is quite common in many RAV4 models where the mileage is great but oil consumption is at a staggering rate, causing the oil to be changed frequently.

  • Transmission Failures & Other Issues

More frequently in earlier models, there was a problem with the ECM module, which caused the transmission to be less than ideal.

With frequent jerking and delayed transmission, which is not enjoyable at the least, the transmission would eventually end up failing altogether and end up needing a replacement, which was not easy or cheap.

  • Suspension Issues

Various models had less-than-ideal suspension, which reduced driving quality in general. The suspensions were of poor quality and ended up causing the car to shake unevenly and frequently, despite being on a normal road.

The car was not made for off-road use, but being a city car and suffering a problem like this on the road is very disappointing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can a Toyota RAV4 last?

The longevity of any vehicle depends on how much it has been driven and how much care has been put into it. The RAV4, in general, lasts around 200,000 to 300,000 miles but can even cross this if you are a responsible owner who takes care of your car.
People have been driving their RAV4s for decades without issue. By taking care of our cars, performing proper maintenance, and repairing them when needed, we can easily increase the lifetime of our cars.

Which is more reliable, Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4?

It is difficult to say which of the two cars is more reliable since both of them share similar reliability ratings; however, if I had to pick one between the two, I would pick the RAV4 to be more reliable mainly because despite its flaws and issues.
The Toyota RAV4 model has much fewer problems than the Honda CRV, with the only drawback being that it is a bit more expensive. Where the CRV beats the RAV4 in the engine, it loses ground in reliability.

Is the RAV4 expensive to maintain?

Compared to the annual maintenance cost of the average automobile, which is N360,000, the RAV4 stands at a much cheaper price of  N280,000, making it much cheaper than other cars in the maintenance department.
The model is generally reliable and requires minimal repairs over long periods. The car’s durability in body and parts is better than average, which will surely reduce breakage and repair costs.


Toyota has managed to stay on top by providing its users with high-quality, top-of-the-line products.

Being one of the largest automobile manufacturers globally, Toyota is no stranger to making millions of models, each of which is special in its own right.  While some models, such as the 2019 RAV4, will be remembered as huge blunders by the company, better and more reliable models like the RAV4 2016 will always have a special place in the community’s hearts.

The best and worst years for the Toyota Rav4 don’t matter, as each model, despite its flaws, is still a good model in its own way. As long as you are happy with your car, everything should be fine.

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