We love our Ford Focuses; we own two fully loaded hatchbacks. They drive like go-carts; quick, nimble and a lot of fun. For a smaller car they have excellent ergonomics, passenger and storage space, and power. The main reason we initially purchased them was for the savings at the gas pump, and their passing power compared to other similar small vehicles. We traded mine in because we needed a larger vehicle now that our family is growing. I already knew that I didn't want a full size SUV. I also wanted something that had a larger engine than my car and handled similarly. By 2013 Toyota has stopped selling the RAV4 with a V6. The last year they sold it with the larger engine was 2012. I settled on a 2010 model because there were no newer models with the V6 to be found, due to the incredible lease rates that Toyota has offered on the 2011 and 2012. By the time of my purchase, the 2010s were coming off lease.
I have a 2010 RAV4 V6 AWD Limited. This will be my 6th vehicle in my 33 years on this earth. This is exactly what I wanted. It's roomy, comfortable, excellent power, and handles very well for a larger vehicle. I love this auto! It inspires confidence on the road, and is inconspicuous... which is a good thing because it's so smooth that I find myself unintentionally driving faster that I should be. While we typically don't keep our cars for more than 6 years, I plan to keep this beauty for a very long time.
In making the decision to buy the RAV4, we also evaluated the following 2013 model year vehicles; all were the highest trim offered, as we were looking to buy new initially:
Ford Escape - New look is nice, comfortable seats, wonderful electronics, lots of power, but the interior didn't look like it quite fit together correctly. Also, expensive for what it is compared to the others.
Subaru Outback - Very spartan feeling, but everything was definitely there. Excellent cabin ergonomics. Very stable handling. This vehicle was the runner-up. It lacked the power of the RAV4, but was my favorite for cabin layout to driver as well as storage.
Volksvagen Tiguan - Very nice feeling interior, well appointed and fitted. Didn't like the way the vehicle looked, it did not have very good power, and the storage was lacking. Great leg room for passengers however. Good handling.
Mazda CX-5 - Based on all the rave reviews I had watched and read, I really thought this would be the one... until I drove it. It was my favorite handling vehicle out of all of them, a lot of fun to drive because it's so stable. The fit and layout for the driver was very nice. It looks really good for a small SUV, but ultimately lacked performance compared to the RAV4.
Honda CRV - Very similar to the RAV4 in all aspects, but couldn't keep up in terms of power. Handled better though.