For 2005, the Toyota RAV4 receives mostly trim changes. Fog lights, privacy glass and ABS become standard equipment, while the Chili package is now called the “Chili Plus” and includes the power sunroof that used to be optional.

All RAV4s come with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder sourced from the Camry; while American buyers can get this little trucklet as a base model with front-wheel-drive only, Canadian shoppers get full-time, four-wheel-drive exclusively. It won’t knock the Jeep TJ off its wilderness-king perch, but it makes for extra surefootedness in nasty winter weather.

The RAV4 comes in a single trim level, with four available add-on option packages. The base model includes CD/MP3 player with four speakers, 50/50 folding rear seat, tilt wheel, floor mats, tonneau cover, 16-inch steel wheels, power heated mirrors, power windows, power locks with power tailgate lock, soft spare tire cover, variable intermittent wipers, and intermittent rear washer/wiper.

Optional equipment includes air conditioning, keyless entry, hard spare tire cover, rear spoiler, cruise control and ABS.

Despite its spicy name, the Chili Plus package ups the content, not the horsepower. It includes unique alloy wheels, hood scoop, sport grille, heated mirrors, Chili-embossed floor mats, privacy glass, power sunroof and a 200-watt Panasonic stereo that’s overly complicated and features a distracting and irritating dancing graphics display. You’ll need a degree in engineering – or a teenager – to figure out how to use it.

The RAV4 drives and handles like a small car, able to swoop into tight parking spaces in a single bound. It exhibits less body roll than many competitors, but the short wheelbase makes for a choppy ride on rougher roads. The steering is light but quick, and it’s confident on the highway. Seating is comfortable, although the rear seat headroom is better than its legroom.

The rear seats slide on their tracks, fold in half, or tumble forward, and they can be removed entirely to create a large, flat floor for cargo. The bumper is part of the rear door and so loading is very easy, with no reaching over extra body panels. Not quite rugged enough for serious off-road adventures, the RAV4 is more than adequate for the urban jungle.

The RAV4 is built in Toyota City, Japan.

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