Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins, Photos by Garvin St. Villier

I met up with the Blue Flame Toyota RAV4 in the Midtown circuit of Atlanta, GA, where Automotive Rhythms would be shooting a lifestyle video for sister luxury brand Lexus utilizing the new 2021 IS F Sport. The RAV4  was the right-sized production vehicle needed to carry the crew and film gear for the weekend. Toyota assigned Automotive Rhythms to the XLE Premium AWD model with beneficial features for the next few days.

When I pulled up to the Marriot driveway from the airport, the colorful crossover awaiting stood out immediately. Its hue is ultra-light and reminiscent of Caribbean waters. So, if you plan on being discrete, don’t take this variant out. The goal is to attract attention, not avoid it. The RAV4 is ideal for a party of five and luggage. The vehicle’s sharp edges are outlined with black cladding for contrast and protection if you frequently use your utility for active outdoor activities such as camping or hiking. The sporty 19″ Super Chrome alloy rims glare with authority, while 235/55 R19 Michelin tires provide commendable traction. LED lights, a power tailgate with an aggressive spoiler, and a power tilt/slide sunroof top off the exterior amenities.

Our 2021 Toyota RAV4 XLE Premium AWD SUV was powered from a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. With Multi-Terrain Select, operators can choose various drive modes such as Eco, Normal, Sport, Snow, Mud & Sand, and Rock & Dirt. This is gratifying for individuals living in areas with extreme weather conditions. However, the 203-horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque were not adequate for accelerating a vehicle this size and with this utility. Even in Sport mode and using manual shifting, the RAV4 struggled.

Starting at $31,450, we had a few additional upgrade packages like the $1,075 XLE Premium Grade Weather Package with a heated leather-trimmed steering wheel and heated front seats. It was uncharacteristically freezing in Atlanta during the shoot, so both features were appreciated. The $1,265 XLE Premium Grade Technology Package added Parking Assist with automated braking, a digital rearview mirror, and wireless smartphone charging which was helpful since we forgot to bring charging cords. Additionally, the $1,570 Audio Plus with JBL package enhanced the ride with an 11-speaker sound system (including subwoofer and amplifier) and an array of other tech features like the upgraded 8” touchscreen. Though, I was expecting more apps to make for an even more entertaining drive. But the music experience was on par, especially with Streetz 94.5 FM giving us a few shout-outs since we were shooting lifestyle influencer Fly Guy DC.

Safety is a top priority for Toyota in general, so you will see a bevy of advanced systems in all of their vehicles. It begins with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS), a bundle of features implemented to actively help keep the safety of drivers and passengers intact. TSS is standard on 16 models and comprises Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beams, Lane Tracing Assist, and Road Sign Assist. See, I want all that in my ride for better peace of mind on the road.

A few other details included dual-zone climate control with huge dials, four USB charge points, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a power driver’s seat, Bluetooth of course, and a Smart Key System with a push-button starter. It’s a very pleasing vehicle for young families and urban couples.