The Rav4 sits right square in the middle of what is quickly becoming one of the bestselling types of vehicle on the market today, that of the compact crossover SUV. Folks all across the country are eating them up, with gas prices becoming more stable and the economy having improved dramatically over the past couple of years dealers are having a hard time keeping the smaller Ute’s on the lot.

Toyota having been a player in this market for over 20 years with the fist Rav4 coming on the market in 1994 making the manufacture one of the first to dabble in this market. The great thing about the compact crossover SUV is that it appeals to a wide range of buyers from young adults with small families to empty nesters such as us.

With that in mind it is only natural that the designers at Toyota would come up with model that features pretty much every add-on available in their quiver and then stamp it with the title of ‘Premium.’ After a week with the crossover we were convinced that it had given it the proper name as it was loaded with all kinds of creature comforts that seemed to be targeted right at us as the buyers!

This year Toyota is making what they call Toyota Safety Sense available for a very affordable cost on any of their vehicle line. Of course on the Premium all its features were standard, including blind spot monitoring, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, rear cross path detection, parking sensors and automatic high beam controlled head lamps. Since one of our own vehicles has all of these safety features we have come to rely on them to keep us safe.

The Rav4 can be had in both a 2 wheel and 4 wheel drive version but the Premium only comes with all-wheel drive, which is a plus for all here in Utah with what can be sudden climate changes and of course the snow that we most always have in the winter. Since our test drive was equipped with AWD we decided that our Sunday Drive would consist of at least some off payment driving.

We headed up Hobble Creek Canyon and decided to see how the Rav4 would handle going all the way up the right hand fork of the canyon and dropping down in to Diamond Fork Canyon and then on to Spanish Fork Canyon, all told topping out around 8000 feet.

The Rav4 handled very well navigating the dirt roads with ease and taking on the rough washboard type roads with authority. More importantly we felt very comfortable going over the rough terrain with the suspension doing its thing so we never felt like we were being thrown around inside the SUV.

Toyota has equipped the Rav4 with Dynamic Torque Control that worked like a charm as we climbed up over what is known to locals as the hogs back, transferring power to the wheels that would start to slip as we made our way over the mountain. With the snow having recently melted off the dirt road there were many opportunities to try this out in loose gravel and even some mud. We would be comfortable taking the Rav4 on most any off-road adventure that we could come up with.

With the addition of a six speed transmission the Rav4 is really quite nimble; making it very easy to get in and out of parking spaces and even just cursing around town. Having this type of vehicle always seems to give us a better look at the neighborhood as we sat higher than a sedan have 4 wheel drive capability and most importantly, the ability to turn on a dime and maneuver very quickly in any situation.

In the past we have had the opportunity to have 4 adults in the Rav4 and they have fit better than we would have expected with no complaining about leg room in the back, in fact , many riders we have had commented on the ample room for their legs and heads when riding in the rear seats of the Rav4.

In the new Premium edition of the SUV the seats were made of simulated leather and proved to be very comfortable both in front and as pointed out by our friends the rear and would be a fine place for even a longer journey for adults. The Premium features a beautiful two tone interior of black with deep tan accents on the seats and across the dashboard. The front seats were heated, a nice touch, and the driver’s seat was powered with memory settings for two different drivers.

There were also dual zone climate controls, which we always love as Deanne can be cold even in mid-July. After driving so many different vehicles we would require dual climate control in any vehicle that we owned just to stay happy on a drive and keep our marriage intact.

The dashboard of the Premium Edition had soft touch points everywhere adding a few extra style points. Another great feature was that of the 7 inch touch screen that came with navigation, Siri Eyes Free, Toyota Entune system and a very powerful JBL sound system with 11 speakers including a great subwoofer in the rear of the Rav4. Toyotas Entune system is very intuitive and easy to use allowing us to access things like Pandora and iheartradio through a smart phone and other satellite based functions through SiriusXM like traffic and weather information.

Hooking up to our phones was even easier on the new Rav4 compared to some of the older Toyota vehicles that we have driven. The voice recognition worked flawlessly and made using our phones super easy and convenient. A new feature with the pairing of a smart phone this year is the Scout app that in conjunction with a smart phone will do turn by turn navigation.

The spare tire that has really been a trade mark over the years for the Rav4 has moved from hanging on the rear door to underneath the rear compartment a few years ago, as with most all of the competition, taking away some of the rear under carpet storage space. Even though it is now harder to distinguish the Rav4 from behind losing the wheel from the rear door gives the Toyota a more refined expensive look in our opinion.

This move of the tire allowed Toyota to put in a hatchback instead of a swinging back door, we were on the fence with this as it was sometimes hard to open and close the rear hatch when we drove the XLE version. With the Premium the lift gate was automatic and kick activated in the center of the rear bumper. This feature becomes very convenient when hauling things around in the Rav4 and the fact that is also height adjustable makes for an even better litigate experience.

All five doors on the Premium are equipped with the automatic entry for the SUV, just a touch of the handle and the doors will all unlock, and then of course it was just a touch of a button to start the Rav4. There were also 2 different driver memory settings on the driver’s door allowing for both of us to keep our own adjustments for the week.

The Premium also came with full body color from top to bottom giving it a very clean look on the exterior, and adding just that little extra touch of sophistication.

As we pointed out in the beginning there were not many add-ons for the Premium edition of the Rav4 and we would expect that most of the buyers will be older like ourselves. It is the perfect vehicle for those that want comfort yet still have some ability to no color in the lines completely when out on an adventurous weekend.

If one is in the market for the a smaller SUV with a sophisticated touch be sure and check out the new Premium version of Toyotas Rav4.