1997 Toyota RAV4 L from Australia and New Zealand


Reliable little runabout


The seatbelts don't retract properly, and get jammed in the doors, if you're not careful.

Otherwise, nothing.

General Comments:

This is a very reliable little runabout, I have had to spend nothing but normal servicing on it in 3 years.

Cons: The 3-door is a little cramped for adults in the back, and the boot space seriously limited if you don't put the back seats down.

Road noise is very bad.

Power is limited at highway speeds - allow yourself plenty of time for overtaking.

The seats are really uncomfortable (and ugly).

The battery is tiny, and if the seatbelt gets jammed in the door, the interior light will drain the battery overnight. This happens regularly, as the seatbelts don't retract properly.

Exterior is still very stylish, 13 years later. The grey plastic on the bottom half takes a lot of crap, and saves your paintwork.

It is a great mid-height, which is easy for getting in and out of, and the back door is very handy for shopping/luggage.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th January, 2011

1997 Toyota RAV4 2.0L from North America


I'd buy another if needed


The check engine light came on about 3 months ago. It turned out to be a faulty ERG valve switch which was replaced at a cost of over $600 because one of the motor mounts broke off in the repair process.

Concomitant with the check engine light problem was a fast idling problem which was not corrected by replacing the ERG valve switch. Toyota will look at the problem, but I'm reluctant to have them perform repairs for fear they might break something else for which I'll have to pay big bucks.

Since everything is computerized, it's probably not possible to fix the fast idling problem by making mechanical adjustments. Or is it? Can you help out?

General Comments:

The car has been reliable with few major repairs needed.

Handling is good, accelerating not so. I was aware of its lack of power, so this is not a complaint.

It's surprisingly spacious, but not very comfortable. It lacks armrests, which makes long-range driving tiring.

It's a nice model, with extra exterior trim (running boards, bumpers, roof rack.) Hereabouts it's often referred to as "Chick-mobile."

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th December, 2007

25th Jan 2017, 20:30

Sounds fishy to me, the EGR valve is mounted on the intake manifold, nowhere near the motor mounts...

1997 Toyota RAV4 from North America


Excellent car, period


After 100000 miles the driver's power window would stop working for a while, and then would go back to work, for no apparent reason. I think, maybe a weak battery could be the cause.

General Comments:

Very economical, noisy 5 speed transmission or clutch, though it never failed.

Other owners have had squealing brakes, I replaced the brake pads myself once and didn't install the shims that came with the pads, so it would squeal a lot, but after I removed the pads again, and this time installed the shims, it never squealed again.

Highest quality car, only gave us satisfaction. I was sorry to see it go, but we needed something roomier for long road trips, Godspeed my friend Rav4..!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd May, 2007

1997 Toyota RAV4 2.0 from North America


After 8 years I still love my Rav4


Two episodes of flooding when driving a very short distance (less than 2 minutes), turning car off, then failing to restart (starter would just spin).

Brake pads, plugs and wires replaced at 5+ yrs/50,000 miles. No problem since.

Only minor annoyance is level of road noise.

General Comments:

It gets 26-29 miles per gallon in typical suburban driving (my commute is 15 miles each way by freeway). The 5spd front wheel drive always plows through Minneapolis snowstorms with ease.

It's been a great hauler, getting me through two moves, a new 32 inch TV, barstools, and once even a brand new clothes dryer in its box. The guy at the store didn't think it would fit, but we proved him wrong!

Very dependable and fun to drive.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th June, 2005

1st Nov 2006, 14:29

I have been having trouble deciding what I was going to buy. I was considering a 1999 Chevy Blazer and a 1997 Toyota Rav4. I made my choice after some research, I decided to buy the Rav4, I like the look of it as well as the great gas mileage, which is better than my small sports car. I drive 40 miles each way to school and work and good gas mileage is exactly what I need.

10th Dec 2007, 10:40

My 1997 is an oil burner. I have to add at least two quarts --maybe more-- between 5000km oil changes. There are no leaks so I assume everything is going out the pipe. The car passes rather stringent government of Ontario emission control parameters, but I feel I'm not doing the environment any good. Do you have a similar problem with your 1997 RAV4?

20th Oct 2008, 22:27

Try changing your oil at 3,000 miles instead of 5,000.

2nd May 2009, 17:45

Hey, 5000 km is the same as 3000 miles.

8th Mar 2013, 12:32

Hey, I thought that mine was burning oil too because I could not find a leak. But there was one the o-ring on the distributor leaked and ran along the back of the motor out of sight, and dripped on the muffler where it burned off undetected. It's a quick fix. The head gasket is a rare thing to go. Also, very $$$$$$ because the motor has to come out.

27th Dec 2014, 00:08

I agree with your statement about it being an oil burner. I have to keep an eye on the oil consumption.

27th Dec 2014, 21:41

Several friends of mine own RAV4s, and my biggest issues with them are the interior noise and awful gas mileage. They are too noisy at highway speeds to carry on a conversation, and on one road trip with my friend, his little 4-cylinder only got 18 miles per gallon. Our large GM SUV gets better than that on the highway.

1997 Toyota RAV4 L 2.2L 4 cylinder from North America


A high quality economical SUV


Nothing serious. The heat shield vibrates at 2000 RPM, but this is only a minor annoyance.

General Comments:

This car based SUV has a good ride and handles well, even in snowy weather. The 2.2L 4 cylinder engine is powerful enough most of the time, but you can't run the air conditioning while going up hill if you want to maintain 65 miles per hour. Fuel economy is as good as it gets in an SUV of this vintage.

Seating is very good in front, and OK for short rides in back. With the seats folded down, there is lots of room for cargo, but it is easy to exceed the load limits of the car if you try to pack it full of stuff.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th April, 2004

1997 Toyota RAV4 2 Door 2.0 from North America



General Comments:

Good sporty handling for an SUV and also economical to operate even if you have a lead foot.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th June, 1998

10th Dec 2007, 10:45

It doesn't really matter if you have a lead foot. The unit's not going anywhere fast anyway... That doesn't really matter to me --my other car is a 1995 Ford SHO-- but try not using the RAV4 as a getaway car!