Test Drive: 2010 Toyota RAV4 Sport V6 4WD toyota car test drives
Test Drive: 2010 Toyota RAV4 Sport V6 4WD toyota car test drives
2010 Toyota RAV4 Sport V6. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Chris Chase

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2010 Toyota RAV4

For as long as it’s been around, the Toyota RAV4′s most recognizable styling trait has been its spare tire cover on the tailgate. The spare’s exterior placement was, and is, dictated by a lack of a place to stow it inside, thanks to the super-low cargo floor, and in the current, third-generation model, what space there is under the floor is reserved either for a third row of seats or a handy place to hide precious cargo.

Notably then, the 2010 RAV4 in V6 Sport trim can be ordered for the first time in Canada with a Sport Appearance Package that deletes the exterior-mounted spare. It’s a move that cleans up this popular crossover’s rear end considerably and creates a much classier-looking vehicle.

The question, of course, is where did Toyota stuff that spare? Well, they didn’t – the Sport Appearance Package also includes run-flat tires that eliminate the need to carry a spare at all.

Other than that, the RAV4 continues into 2010 unchanged. That means a choice of 2.5-litre four-cylinder and 3.5-litre V6 engines, both of which can be had with front- or all-wheel drive; four-speed (with the four-cylinder engine)and five-speed (with the V6) automatic transmissions are the only ones offered.

Test Drive: 2010 Toyota RAV4 Sport V6 4WD toyota car test drives
2010 Toyota RAV4 Sport V6. Click image to enlarge

My tester was a Sport V6 model with the Sport Appearance Package, a $2,590 extra that, along with those run-flat tires, also includes an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, leather seats and synthetic leather door trim, heaters for the two front chairs, a cargo area mat and interior chrome trim and door handles. On the outside, upgrades include a chrome exhaust tip, chrome tailgate trim and red badging. Toyota also includes a tire pressure monitoring system to warn of a loss of tire pressure – a necessity with run-flat tires which, as you’d guess, are designed to remain “driveable” even with no air in them.

Run-flat tires can support the weight of a vehicle even when deflated thanks to stiff sidewall construction. There are a couple of downsides: one is that they tend to ride harder than regular tires. Cost is the other negative, as run-flats are significantly more expensive than similar regular tires, a very important consideration for buyers shopping in the RAV4′s price range.

Test Drive: 2010 Toyota RAV4 Sport V6 4WD toyota car test drives
2010 Toyota RAV4 Sport V6. Click image to enlarge

Unchanged is the V6 engine’s 269 horsepower, which moves the relatively light RAV4 (1,672 kg/3,686 lbs in V6 Sport trim) with urgency. It’s a very smooth engine too, but it feels like overkill compared to the excellent 179-horsepower, 2.5-litre four-cylinder that was new to the RAV4 last year. On paper, the difference in fuel consumption isn’t drastic – the V6′s ratings are 11.1/7.7 L/100 km (city/highway) compared to the four-cylinder’s 9.7/7.2. In a week’s worth of mostly city driving in chilly winter weather, my tester averaged 14.1 L/100 km; a 2009 tester with the 2.5-litre engine driven in similar conditions last year averaged about 12.5 L/100 km.

A couple of my personal RAV4 nitpicks have also carried over into 2010, one of which is this car’s jumpy throttle response, regardless of engine choice. For the record, I didn’t experience any unintended acceleration in my RAV4, although RAV4s built in North America are subject to the sticky accelerator pedal recall. No complaints about the transmission, which does its job unobtrusively.

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