RAV4 Trip Report
First of all, I purchased my 2007 RAV4 4x4 V6 Limited for one major reason: fishing trips. I have to drive this car to work every day, so I could not afford (fuel) to go for a heavy 4x4 vehicle like the FJ Cruiser or some Jeep (see also, reliability). I wanted this car to be able to go up into the woods on camp roads and logging roads, to ford small (4" or so) water flows and generally handle well both on and off road. There is a fairly strong tradition in Maine toward beating your car to death (a.k.a "pushing vehicles to their limit") and so nearly as many family sedans are seen up in the woods as larger trucks. Adhering to this tradition I had a Mazda 626 LX before and stuck it in the mud on camp and logging roads a few times. After the last trip hurt my poor Mazda, I had enough...
The guys and I had a trip to the woods all scheduled for last weekend (Thursday to Sunday). Part of the trip was to get camp ready for the summer, part of it was to do some too early fishing and part of it was to test out my RAV4. It rained and it rained and it rained in the week or so before the trip, ensuring the unpaved camp road would be a mess. Then it rained a few more days right before the trip to be sure. We threw a comealong, towstrap and lots of stout rope in the trucklet along with fishing gear and other essentials.
The camp road was a terrible nasty mire complete with rocks and ruts and mud galore. All of the normal cars were left at the end of the camp road and yours truly in his sweet little RAV4 drove back and forth on the camp road ferrying people and baggage to the little camp in the woods. After several days of proof positive that my little RAV4 was a stout hearted thing, we went full bore. We attached the eye-bolt to the front of the car, hooked rope to it and pulled down a tree we were cutting up for firewood. Can you say, woohoo!
Now I know this isn't a real off-roading vehicle, nor do I have any plans to go rock climbing in the desert or seriously mudding or fording rushing rivers. It does appear to do an ample job of handling "light" off-road situations where a normal car simply cannot handle the conditions. I know for certain that my Mazda would have been stuck last weekend because someone else got stuck on the camp road and we drove up in the RAV4 to pry them loose.
If you have any plans for the same kind of activities in a 2006-2007 RAV4, I must strongly recommend you purchase one of those canister shields. I was power washing the car this morning to get the wheels back in balance and the dried on mud removed, when I remembered the canister shield. It was absolutely caked with mud and had a number of nasty scratches on it. The canister is clean and unharmed and all of the cables are undamaged and fully attached. Whatever that shield is protecting would probably be laying on the camp road without the shield, so my money was well spent. Nice work, mcvitie!