Spacious, comfortable and easy to drive, the 2009 Toyota RAV4 is a top pick for a crossover SUV, especially if you want a V6 or a usable kid-size third-row seat.
Like the Tin Man in "The Wizard of Oz," a body of metal is nothing without a heart. Thankfully, the 2009 Toyota RAV4 -- when fitted with the optional V6 -- has plenty of heart, thanks to 269 horsepower, potent acceleration and a modest appetite for fuel. In fact, this V6 gets about the same fuel economy as some four-cylinder-equipped competitors.
The RAV4's four-cylinder engine gets a power boost for 2009, to 179 hp, making it the class leader among rival fours. Fuel economy has increased slightly with this engine as well. A new grille and bumper design further modernize the latest RAV4. And with a cavernous 73 cubic feet of cargo space and room for five adults, the current RAV4 presents a nice balance of roomy functionality and ease of maneuverability. There's even a third-row seat available, though it's only roomy enough for children.
As much as we like the 2009 Toyota RAV4, there are still a few competing models you might want to check out. Family-bound driving enthusiasts might enjoy the more intimate connection to the road provided by the Mazda CX-7 or Mitsubishi Outlander. And unless you really need a third-row seat, the Honda CR-V is a more well-rounded and luxurious choice. Still, the RAV4 is hard to beat for families in search of a vehicle that offers plenty of space, power, features