2020 Toyota RAV4 Interior Driveway Test | More practical than it appears

The latest Toyota RAV4 was designed and engineered to be more evocative of an SUV. Part of that can be seen inside, where there is less of an uber-practical parent-mobile vibe. The center console is higher and there are rugged-ish rubber surfaces on door pulls and knobs. Instead of fake wood or metal to create the fleeting impression of a luxury vehicle, Toyota instead utilizes different color trim, stitching or upholstery accents to add some visual differentiation. In the RAV4 Hybrid shown here, you can see blue bits and pieces. 

In short, I’m a big fan of the 2020 Toyota RAV4 interior. Aesthetically, it’s distinctive without trying too hard, and the quality is high for this segment. Functionally, it just works. You get in and everything is readily at hand, partly because of that higher center console. Readily within sight is the touchscreen that looks bigger than its 8-inches due to its prominent place atop the dash. I’m also appreciative of the touchscreen’s simple, user-friendly interface, especially for the radio, even if some lament it’s not the most modern in appearance. I want my tech to work first; if it looks pretty, that’s a bonus. 

Now, at first glance, the RAV4 interior may not seem as functional for stuffing away gobs of odds and ends as its arch enemy, the Honda CR-V. It’s certainly true that it doesn’t have a flipping-and-folding center console big enough to store a purse. However, once I started testing the RAV4’s various cubbies and cupholders, it turns out the RAV4 is more uber-practical than it appears. 

The wireless charging pad is easily accessible rather than hidden inside a bin or deep, dark recess. It’ll also actually keep your phone from flying across the cabin and keeps wires from dangling all over the console … unlike in the CR-V. The charger itself is also available on more than just the top RAV4 … again, unlike the CR-V.  

There are these bins that run along each side of the dash, each of which is lined in a grippy surface to keep whatever’s inside in place. Those grippy surfaces are called upon to provide some of that aforementioned color in certain trim levels. In this XSE Hybrid, however, they are just black. 

These cupholders basically provide two lines of defense against tipping. There’s the usual cupholder-shaped area, which is of a typical depth. But then the whole unit is sunken to provide that extra bit of bottle security. I forgot to take the picture, but my Yeti and medium metal water bottle fit without issue. Note that the cupholders are lined with the same patterned rubber as the phone holder and dash bins. That there’s a pattern at all indicates the greater emphasis on design for this latest RAV4.

They are also quite good at minimizing tipping with the standard ceramic travel coffee mug. 

As for the front door bottle holders, both of my guinea pig bottles fit without issue or effort. By contrast, the CR-V’s door speaker intruded upon the Yeti’s airspace. I also had to jam the Yeti into the CR-V door, flexing the thin plastic surround. Picture of that here

By contrast, the RAV4’s back door bottle holder is at an angle and there’s no extra space within as there is in the CR-V

On the other hand, the RAV4’s center armrest bin cupholders were able to fit both of these bottles. The CR-V’s could not

And finally in our RAV4/CR-V pro/con back-and-forth, the aforementioned center console bin. The RAV4 cannot hold a purse as the CR-V can, nor does it provide multiple configurations and storage solutions. What’s there is pretty unremarkable, but it can at least swallow my camera bag. 

Moving away from interior storage, here is the touchscreen. Note the physical menu buttons and knobs for volume and tuning. I also like this home screen that shows the map and audio information, however, unlike in the Highlander’s new widescreen touchscreen, you can’t show Apple CarPlay and something from the car’s native interface at the same time. 

Here’s a better look at that grippy rubber surface found on the prominent HVAC nobs. It’s also found on the interior door pulls on all but the lowest trims. The feel and action of these buttons and knobs are of a notably high quality. In general, the RAV4’s materials quality is high for this segment.

Here are the gauges you get with the RAV4 Hybrid, including the energy flow map in action (don’t worry, I was just inching forward in an empty lot). 

Finally, you can find photos of the various RAV4 trim level color schemes in the gallery above, minus the RAV4 TRD Off-Road and its red-accented interior that was introduced for 2020. 

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