Friday, September 5, 2014

Our family road trip in the Toyota RAV4

Did your family have a great Labor Day weekend?
Our Labor Day weekend began with a brand-new shiny red vehicle in our driveway!

The kind people at Toyota's PR firm arranged for us to borrow a 2015 Toyota RAV4 to take on our Labor Day weekend road trip to the mountains of North Carolina so I could tell you all about our experience.

I am a mid-size SUV owner, so my first plan of action was to find out if my family, our luggage, and the various baby gear could fit comfortably in a smaller SUV/crossover for a road trip. The interior of the Toyota RAV4 is surprisingly roomy. In fact, I could not tell much difference vs. my current SUV. The infant car seat and Amelia's booster seat fit just fine in the back, with plenty of space at their feet and in between their seats for various baby toys, books, and snacks.

We were sure that the trunk space was going to be a challenge as compared to the huge trunk space of my 2005 midsize SUV. But while we thought we'd have a very tight fit, everything actually had a place in the trunk with some room to spare: a stroller, pack-n-play, kids' luggage, adult luggage, big blanket, and pillows. Only two times each year would I possibly need a larger trunk space: our two-week holiday family trip hauling gear plus Christmas gifts to and fro, and our week-long beach vacation where we also need to pack in beach chairs, sand buckets, and a beach umbrella. We could probably find a way to make it work, though; the RAV4 has 38.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the back seats in their upright position - and they can fold flat if you are hauling large items (and no children).

The Toyota RAV4 also has a power liftgate that opens with a light touch. The liftgate opens smoothly and is height-adjustable. It closes with the touch of a button. The driver's side door unlocks itself automatically when the keys get near too! These convenience features can be quite helpful to a mom like me, with her arms full of baby and a cart full of groceries! 

The interior styling of the Toyota RAV4 is attractive, especially with the dark and gray leather seats. Some of my favorite interior features are the XM satellite radio, navigation, back-up camera, and power moonroof. Oh - and the push-button start is really fun! (I did need to train myself to keep my keys in my purse, because it was easy to hop out of the car without them.)

So, can my family of 4 - complete with full baby gear - fit comfortably and enjoy a smaller crossover?

My answer here is YES. I am really going to consider a downsize when the time comes to say goodbye to my larger vehicle. The Toyota RAV4 is economical and has great gas mileage; we drove for hours to, from, and in the mountains, plus we made it back home on just one tank.

The base model Toyota RAV4 starts around $23,000. Build your own RAV4 via the Toyota website.

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The Toyota RAV4 was on loan to me for the purposes of this review. All opinions are 100% mine.
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