Why the Toyota RAV4 is a good family car

9 Reasons Why the Toyota RAV4 is a Good Family Car

Is the RAV4 a good family car? As a proud owner of a 2023 Toyota RAV4 and a father of a family of four, I can confidently say yes, the RAV4 is a good car for a small family. I have spent countless hours riding in every seat in my RAV4 and I can confirm it is roomy and comfortable for a family of four to travel in. From its roomy seats to its advanced safety features, the RAV4 checks all the boxes for being a fantastic family vehicle.

But keep in mind that the RAV4 might not be for everyone. We’ll also discuss:

  1. Limited Seating
  2. Road Noise

These could be deal-breakers for some families, so it’s worth considering all angles.

Read on to see in detail why the RAV4 might be the perfect fit for your family.

Are you interested in mods and accessory ideas for your RAV4? See the 45 best Toyota RAV4 mods & aftermarket accessories.

1. Spacious and Comfortable Seats: Comfort for the Whole Family

If you’re wondering about the comfort level of the Toyota RAV4, let me assure you, it’s top-notch. I own a 2023 RAV4 and have a family of four, so I speak from experience.

Front Seat Comfort

The front seats offer excellent lumbar support, making long drives much more manageable. I’ve driven for hours and felt no discomfort, which is crucial for family road trips.

RAV4 front seat comfort and space
Me sitting in the front passenger seat of my RAV4 (I’m almost 6′ tall)
RAV4 driver's seat comfort and space
Me sitting in the driver’s seat of my RAV4 (I’m almost 6′ tall)

Backseat Space

The back seats are spacious enough for my kids or myself to sit comfortably. There’s enough distance between the seats to eliminate the common “He’s touching me!” complaints during drives.

Back seats are spacious for me even with my boys car seat and booster seat
My RAV4’s back seats are spacious for me even with my boys car seat and booster seat

I’ve included more car seat information later in the article. To see more car sear details jump down the page.

Legroom Dimensions

Here are the specific legroom dimensions for both the front and rear seats:

RAV4 Seat PositionLegroom
Front Seats41 inches
Rear Seats37.8 inches
The above table provides front and rear seat legroom in the Toyota RAV4.

The front seats offer 41 inches of legroom, providing ample space for taller individuals. The rear seats offer 37.8 inches, which is more than enough for both kids and adults to sit comfortably.

Want to know how much cargo space the RAV4 has? See a detailed breakdown of the RAV4 cargo space and dimensions with photos.

Is RAV4 Good for a Family of 5?

The RAV4 is a great car for a family of 5 as long as the 3 kids are teenagers or younger. It can accommodate a family of 5 adults but may feel cramped on long journeys.

However, if you have 3 kids that are all in car seats then the backseat in a RAV4 might not be large enough to accommodate your family.

How Family Friendly is the Toyota RAV4?

Is RAV4 Comfortable for 5 Passengers?

The Toyota RAV4 offers comfortable seating for up to five passengers, with ample legroom and headspace. However, for long trips, the middle rear seat may be less comfortable due to its narrower design.

Seat Space Comparison: RAV4 vs. Competitors

To give you a better idea of how the RAV4 stacks up against the competition, let’s look at a comparison of seat space:

VehicleFront Seat Legroom (inches)Rear Seat Legroom (inches)
Toyota RAV44137.8
Honda CR-V (see RAV4 vs. CR-V)41.340.4
Ford Escape42.437.3
Subaru Forester43.339.4
The above table compares the Toyota RAV4 legroom to its competitors.

As you can see, the RAV4 holds its own quite well. With 41 inches of legroom in the front and 37.8 inches in the back, it’s competitive with other popular family SUVs.

How much weight can a RAV4 rooftop hold? See the Toyota RAV4 roof rack weight limit before you overload it.

Additional Features

The RAV4 also offers options or add-ons of leather seats, seat warmers, and cooling features which add to the overall comfort. This can come in handy during any season or climate.

To sum it up, the RAV4 offers roomy and comfortable seating that caters to families. The ample legroom and additional features make it an excellent choice for families of four or fewer.

What exterior colors does the RAV4 come in? See a breakdown of all the 2023 RAV4 colors and which trim offers which color.

2. Safety Features: Peace of Mind on the Road

For me, safety is a top priority when it comes to my family. That’s why I was thrilled to find out how well-equipped the Toyota RAV4 is in the safety department.

Advanced Safety Features

The RAV4 comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 which is a suite of safety features designed to protect passengers. This includes:

These features all work together and help me feel more secure while driving with my family.

Toyota RAV4 RCTA rear cross traffic alert system

Crash Test Ratings

The RAV4 has received high marks in crash test ratings. One rating in particular was a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This adds another layer of confidence for me in my vehicle’s ability to keep my family safe.

Child Safety

For those with young kids, the RAV4 offers child safety locks and has LATCH connectors for car seats, making it easier and safer to secure child seats. 

The rear doors also have child safety locks, ensuring that the little ones can’t accidentally open the doors while the car is moving.

Blind Spot Monitoring

One of my favorite features is the Blind Spot Monitoring system. It alerts you if a vehicle is in your blind spot, making lane changes safer. This is particularly useful on highways and busy roads.

Emergency Assistance

The RAV4 also comes with an emergency assistance button that connects you to a 24/7 response center in case of an accident or other emergencies. It’s reassuring to know that help is just a button press away.

To sum it up, the Toyota RAV4 goes above and beyond when it comes to safety tech, offering a range of features that provide peace of mind on the road. Whether it’s advanced safety systems or high crash test ratings, the RAV4 ensures that you and your family are well-protected.

How high does the RAV4 sit off the ground? See RAV4 ground clearance specs by year and trim.

3. Good MPG: Fuel Efficiency for Family Road Trips

One of the standout features of the Toyota RAV4 that I appreciate as a family man is its impressive fuel efficiency. Let’s look into why good MPG (miles per gallon) is helpful for families.

Why Fuel Efficiency Matters

Fuel efficiency is mostly about saving money but it also comes with the additional benefit of reducing the number of stops you have to make on long journeys (see the RAV4 gas tank size). Less time at the gas station means more time enjoying your destination. 

If you’re interested in maximizing your RAV4’s fuel efficiency even further, you’ll find some great tips in my article on how to increase the gas mileage in a Toyota RAV4.

RAV4’s MPG Ratings

The 2023 RAV4 comes with an impressive 28 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway for the gasoline model. For the hybrid version, you’re looking at an even better 41 MPG city and 38 MPG highway. If you’re curious about how to calculate these numbers for your own driving habits, check out my Toyota RAV4 MPG gas mileage calculator which will give you the MPG for any RAV4 year and trim.

How to get better gas mileage in a Toyota RAV4

Real-World Data

Of course, official ratings are one thing, but real-world performance can vary. I’ve found that my RAV4 consistently performs close to the official ratings, especially on long road trips. For more in-depth insights, you can see RAV4 real-world MPG data from actual RAV4 owners.

Gas Cost Savings

Let’s talk numbers. The fuel efficiency of the RAV4 can save you a significant amount over time, especially if you’re someone who drives frequently. To get a detailed understanding of how much you could save, take a look at my Toyota RAV4 fuel consumption and cost estimate calculator.

The Toyota RAV4’s excellent fuel efficiency makes it an ideal choice for family road trips. Its impressive MPG ratings not only save you money but also offer the convenience of fewer fuel stops, letting you focus more on making memories with your family.

Ever wondered what RAV4 “ECO or Economy Mode” is? See a detailed guide on RAV4 “ECO Mode”: what it is and how to use it.

4. Climate Control: Comfort in Any Weather

Another feature that makes the Toyota RAV4 a standout family car is its advanced climate control system. Trust me, when you have a family, keeping everyone comfortable is a big deal, and the RAV4 delivers.

Dual-Zone Climate Control

One of the features I personally love is the dual-zone climate control. It allows the driver and the front passenger to set their own preferred temperatures. So, while I like it a bit cooler, my wife can opt for a warmer setting without any compromise.

Backseat Vents

My kids absolutely enjoy the backseat vents. They do an excellent job of keeping the rear of the car at a comfortable temperature. Whether it’s a hot summer day or a chilly winter morning, these vents ensure that my kids stay cool or warm, as needed.

Vents and usb charging ports in the back seat of my RAV4
Vents and USB charging ports in the back seat of my RAV4

Air Quality

The RAV4 also comes with an air filtration system that helps keep the air inside the cabin clean and fresh. This is particularly useful during allergy season or when driving through areas with a lot of dust or pollution.

Heated Seats and Steering Wheel

For those colder months, the RAV4 offers heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. It’s a feature that you might not think you need until you experience it. But it makes a difference for early morning school runs or winter road trips.

Which Toyota RAV4 trim has leather seats? See our RAV4 leather seat full guide.

Keep in mind that not all RAV4 trims come with heated seats and steering wheels. Make sure to do thorough RAV4 trim and model comparisons (Toyota RAV4 Specs).

5. All-Wheel Drive (AWD): Safe Driving in All Conditions

When it comes to family safety, the type of drive system in your vehicle can make a significant difference. That’s why I appreciate the All-Wheel Drive (AWD) option in the Toyota RAV4. Here’s how AWD contributes to safer driving in various conditions.

What is AWD?

AWD is a system that distributes power to all four wheels of the vehicle, improving traction and control. This is especially useful in challenging driving conditions like:

  • Wet roads
  • Snow and ice
  • Off-road terrain
RAV4 off roading on a steep incline

Improved Traction

One of the primary benefits of AWD is enhanced traction. This means the RAV4 can grip the road better, reducing the likelihood of slipping or skidding. It’s a feature that gives me peace of mind when I’m driving my family, especially in wet or snowy conditions.

Better Handling

AWD also improves the RAV4’s handling, making it easier to navigate turns and uneven road surfaces. This is particularly beneficial when driving on winding roads or when you need to make sudden maneuvers.

Off-Road Capabilities

While the RAV4 isn’t a full-fledged off-road vehicle, its AWD system does provide some off-road capabilities. This is great for family adventures like camping trips where you might encounter dirt roads or uneven terrain.

  • Hill Start Assist: Helps prevent rollback when starting on an incline.
  • Downhill Assist Control: Helps maintain a constant speed when descending steep hills.

Fuel Efficiency Considerations

It’s worth noting that AWD can impact fuel efficiency slightly. However, the RAV4’s AWD system is designed to be as fuel-efficient as possible, so the impact is minimal.

6. Kid-Friendly Features: Entertainment On the Go

Keeping the kids entertained during drives, whether short or long, is a task every parent knows all too well. That’s where the RAV4’s kid-friendly tech features come into play. Trust me, these features are a lifesaver for family road trips.

Infotainment System Features

The RAV4 comes equipped with a state-of-the-art infotainment system that’s both intuitive and feature-rich. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Touchscreen Display: Easy-to-use interface for all your media needs.
  • Voice Control: Allows for hands-free operation, so you can focus on driving.
  • Built-in Navigation: This helps you find the quickest route to your destination.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is another big win. These systems allow you to mirror your smartphone’s interface on the RAV4’s display, giving you access to:

  • Music and playlists
  • Text messages and calls
  • Navigation apps like Google Maps or Waze

This means the kids can listen to their favorite tunes or audiobooks, making the journey more enjoyable for everyone.

USB Charging Ports

One feature my kids really appreciate is the USB charging ports in the back seat. No more fighting over who gets to charge their device; everyone can plug in and stay entertained for the entire ride.

Additional Features

Other notable features include:

  • Bluetooth Connectivity: For wireless streaming of music and podcasts.
  • Wi-Fi Hotspot: This keeps everyone connected, especially useful for longer trips (included only in newer models with a paid subscription).

7. Strong Resale Value: A Smart Financial Choice

When buying a car, especially one for the family, it’s essential to consider not just the upfront cost but also the long-term financial implications. That’s why I was pleased to find out that the Toyota RAV4 has a strong resale value, making it a smart financial choice for families.

Why Resale Value Matters

A car is an investment, and like any investment, you want it to hold its value as much as possible. A strong resale value means you’ll get more money back when it’s time to sell or trade in your vehicle. This can be especially helpful when you’re looking to upgrade to a new car in the future.

RAV4’s Resale Value Rankings

The RAV4 consistently ranks high in terms of resale value. According to various automotive research sites, it’s often listed among the top 10 cars that hold their value the best (see iseecars.com). 

The main reasons why the RAV4 has a high resale value include:

  • High Demand: The RAV4’s popularity helps maintain its value.
  • Reliability: Toyota’s reputation for durability contributes to strong resale values.
  • Cost of Ownership: Lower maintenance costs make it an attractive buy for future owners.

Financial Benefits

Owning a RAV4 can offer several financial benefits:

  • Lower Depreciation: The car loses value at a slower rate compared to other vehicles in its class.
  • Trade-in Value: When you’re ready for a new car, a higher resale value can offset the cost of your next vehicle.
  • Financing Options: A car with a strong resale value often comes with better financing options, making it easier on your wallet.

In my experience, knowing that my RAV4 will hold its value well gives me peace of mind. It’s not just a comfortable and safe family car; it’s also a wise financial decision.

8. Toyota Reliability: A Vehicle Your Family Can Count On

When it comes to choosing a family car, reliability is a non-negotiable factor. You want a vehicle that won’t let you down, especially when you’re on the road with your loved ones. That’s one of the reasons I opted for the Toyota RAV4; Toyota’s reputation for reliability is second to none.

Toyota RAV4 reliability is important for a family car

The Toyota Legacy

Toyota has a long-standing reputation for producing reliable and durable vehicles. The brand consistently ranks high in reliability surveys and studies, often outperforming other manufacturers. Here’s why that matters:

  • Longevity: Toyota vehicles are known to last for years, often hitting the 200,000-mile mark with ease.
  • Quality Engineering: The brand’s commitment to quality ensures fewer mechanical issues over the lifespan of the vehicle.

Why is the Toyota RAV4 so popular? See 9 reasons why it is the most popular SUV in America.

RAV4’s Track Record

Specifically, the RAV4 has received high marks for its reliability (see consumer reports). Several consumer reports and reviews highlight its:

  • Low Maintenance: The RAV4 generally requires less frequent repairs compared to other SUVs in its class.
  • Safety Features: As mentioned earlier, the RAV4 comes loaded with safety tech, adding another layer of reliability.
  • Customer Satisfaction: High levels of customer satisfaction indicate that the RAV4 meets or exceeds expectations.

Personal Experience

In the time I’ve owned my 2023 RAV4, I’ve had zero issues. It runs smoothly, the build quality is excellent, and it feels like a vehicle built to last. This gives me the confidence that I’ve made a wise choice for my family’s safety and comfort.

Cost of Ownership

Another aspect of reliability is the cost of ownership, which includes maintenance, repairs, and fuel costs. Toyota’s reputation for reliability often translates to lower costs in the long run.

  • Affordable Parts: Toyota parts are generally less expensive and widely available.
  • Fuel Efficiency: As discussed earlier, the RAV4 offers excellent fuel efficiency, reducing running costs.

9. Car Seat Friendly: Safety for the Little Ones

When you have young children, car seat safety is a top priority. That’s why I was thrilled to discover that the Toyota RAV4 comes equipped with three car seat anchors and two latches, making it easier and safer to secure multiple car seats.

Sitting to the right of two car seats in the back of my RAV4
Sitting in between two car seats in the back of my RAV4

The Baby Carseat System

The RAV4 offers a three 3 anchor and 2 latch system for car seats, providing several benefits:

  • Flexibility: The extra hooks mean you can secure up to three car seats, ideal for larger families or carpooling.
  • Ease of Use: The hooks are straightforward to use, making the process of installing and removing car seats a breeze.
  • Safety: Multiple hooks ensure that each car seat is individually anchored, providing maximum safety for each child.

Can you fit 3 car seats in a RAV4?

You cannot fit THREE standard-size baby seats in the back seat of a Toyota RAV4 at the same time. However, you can fit three small car seats or booster seats in the RAV4, although it will be a tight squeeze.

Two larger Baby seats will easily fit in the RAV4 together at the same time. I have used 2 baby seats in our RAV4 and have found it to leave plenty of extra space.

two car seats and a booster in the backseat of a RAV4
Three car seats can be doable in the back of a RAV4 as long as it includes a booster and smaller to medium-sized baby seats.

My Experience

In my own RAV4, I’ve found the three-hook system to be incredibly useful. It’s not just about being able to fit multiple car seats; it’s also about how easy and secure each installation is. Knowing that my kids are safely strapped in gives me peace of mind every time we hit the road.


It’s worth noting that these hooks are compatible with most major car seat brands, so you’re likely to find that your existing car seats will fit securely.

  • Latch System: The hooks work well with the LATCH system, a standard in car seat safety.
  • Universal Anchors: The hooks are designed to be universal, fitting a wide range of car seat models.
My boys two car seats comfortably set in the back seat of my Toyota RAV4
My boys’ two car seats are comfortably set in the back seat of my Toyota RAV4.

Reasons the RAV4 Might Not Be Perfect for Every Family

While the Toyota RAV4 has a lot to offer, it’s essential to acknowledge that it might not be the perfect fit for every family. Here are a couple of reasons why you might want to consider other options.

1. Limited Seating: Not Ideal for Larger Families

The RAV4 comfortably seats up to five passengers, but if you have a larger family, this might be a limiting factor. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Maximum Seating Capacity: The RAV4 has two rows of seats, accommodating up to five people. There’s no option for a third row.
  • Alternatives for Larger Families: If you need more seating, you might want to look into larger SUVs or minivans that offer third-row seating options.

What are common RAV4 problems? See 5 of the most common Toyota RAV4 problems and how to deal with them.

2. Road Noise: 

I drove a Toyota Camry and a Ford F-150 before we bought the RAV4 and I can honestly say I didn’t notice it being any louder, However, some reviews mention that the RAV4 can be noisy on the highway, which can be a concern for families who prioritize a quiet and comfortable ride. 

  • A review on My Baba mentioned that while the RAV4 offers best-in-class fuel economy and emissions levels, it can be noisy on the highway due to wind and road noise.
  • Another review on Kelowna Toyota mentioned that the RAV4’s engine noise can be noticeable when accelerating or driving at high speeds

Questions and Answers

Is the Toyota RAV4 big enough?

The Toyota RAV4 offers ample space for up to five passengers and their luggage, making it big enough for most small to medium-sized families.

Is RAV4 comfortable for 5 passengers?

Yes, the Toyota RAV4 offers comfortable seating for up to five passengers, with ample legroom and headspace. However, for long trips, the middle rear seat may be less comfortable due to its narrower design.

Can you fit 3 baby seats in a RAV4?

You can fit three small car seats or booster seats in the RAV4, although it will be a tight squeeze. Most standard baby seats will make it difficult to fit three across in the back seat and it may be unsafe to try.

Is a Toyota RAV4 a small or large SUV?

The Toyota RAV4 is considered a compact SUV, offering a good balance of space and maneuverability but not as much room as larger SUVs.

Does the RAV4 have enough room?

The RAV4 offers sufficient room for most families, with a spacious interior and ample cargo space. However, for larger families or those needing to transport bulky items, it may feel limited.

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