2023 Toyota RAV4 Woodland Edition

The suspension proved to be another surprise of the Woodland RAV4.
The suspension proved to be another surprise of the Woodland RAV4.

by Nathan Leipsig | April 17, 2023


It’s amazing what a little visual flourish will do, as seen on the 2023 Toyota RAV4 Woodland Edition. Apple does it all the time; they’ll roll out an iPhone, which is more or less the same as the last iPhone that everybody has, and then a few months later, they’ll roll out a special edition of the same phone that everybody has in (gasp) a color, with the most recent one being the new yellow iPhone. Let’s face it: this is not innovation. This is not something clever that the engineers have been toiling away at, it’s just a cynical cash grab. 

But… it does look unique. It does mean that your iPhone will be different from everyone else’s iPhone, and that must mean you’re unique, too. Sometimes that’s all you want, and so Toyota has joined everybody else in rolling out a sorta-sporty kinda-outdoorsy maybe-rugged-ish edition of their otherwise ubiquitous compact crossover that everybody has. 

Our RAV4’s Cavalry Blue paint is a wonderful offset to the drab neutrals that seemingly everybody else’s RAV4 is painted in. Moreover, its bronze TRD eighteen-inch six-spoke wheels and off-road tires pop-off nicely against the bright blue paint, and are combined with black badging, a chunkier roof rack, and mud flaps to inject some meaningful personality into the otherwise commonplace RAV4.

Seriously – the RAV4 is the best selling vehicle, in the best selling category, from the one of the best selling car brands on Earth. It’s not that much of a stretch to say that everyone has a RAV4, with white, grey, and black being by far the most common shades, and I’m honestly quite surprised at how much I enjoyed having the blue one with kickass rad wheels. It might be the most common car in the parking lot, but it’ll be one of the easiest ones to spot.

There’s a few minor changes to spot inside; the only unique additions to this edition being the Woodland branded rubber floor mats, and a 120V power outlet in the cargo area, obviously for your outdoorsy sporty rugged camp gear/iPhone charger. For 2023, the RAV4 gets Toyota’s new infotainment system on an 8-inch touchscreen, which we’ve covered a few times recently. It suffers on the small screen, and changing radio stations is a needlessly difficult ordeal, but otherwise it works well, and it does support wireless CarPlay for your yellow iPhone. Otherwise, it’s exactly what you’d expect to find in a RAV4 XLE.

It’s a relatively basic cabin but it’s simple, ergonomically sound, and feels like it should last. The seats are cloth and offer a good range of powered accommodation with adjustable lumbar support; it’s easy to get comfortable. Along that line, there’s plenty of head, knee, leg and shoulder room in the front and rear, and a very healthy amount of cargo space. You’ve got Toyota’s full suite of driver assists too, along with heated seats and steering wheel to make your life easier. Wind and road noise are fairly well isolated, and it rides well on the TRD tuned suspension that comes with the Woodland edition.

That suspension proved to be another surprise of the Woodland RAV4. It’s firmer than what’s normally found in the less adventurous models, and to very good effect. The unbecoming floating feel that tends to follow Toyotas is gone, and you’re left with a ride that’s still plenty compliant with excellent body control and healthy steering response. It transforms the RAV4’s driving experience from dial tone to bubbly ringtone.

Slightly less impressive is the powertrain, which as we’ve said before with Toyota hybrids, gets some things really right and falls flat on its face with others. It’s efficient, offers just enough performance for confident passing with 219 horsepower, and it feels very natural. On the other hand, the gas engine is coarse when it kicks on, and rather loud – surprisingly so when you’re really getting on it. Despite the beefier roof rack and meatier off road tires, it’s still thrifty on fuel, as we saw an average fuel use of 7.2L/100km. 

To be honest, I was not looking forward to this assignment. Any regular readers will know I am not a fan of crossovers, because they’re boring whatever-mobiles, and the RAV4, being the most common, is the poster child for whatever transportation; the antithesis of what I want a car to be. My biases were clouding me before I’d even seen it. What’s there to see? It’s just the same damn thing everybody else has with a cynical marketing push behind it, right?

Maybe. Maybe not. It may be the same crossover everyone else has, but I had the blue one. There may be many others like it, but this one is mine. I can see why people like these so much, I can see how Toyota maintains such an incredibly high brand loyalty rate, and why people keep coming back for the same thing over and over again. It works, it’s easy to live with, and it’s a known quantity – just like Apple’s iPhone. The little extra flair that comes with the yellow iPhone, or our 2023 Toyota RAV4 Woodland Edition sets it apart from everyone else, and makes it you and it feel just a tiny bit more special. It’s amazing what a little visual flourish will do.

See Also:

2023 Honda CR-V Touring Hybrid

2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2023 Mazda CX-5 Signature

Vehicle Specs
Compact Hybrid Crossover
Engine Size
2.5L inline-four hybrid
Horsepower (at RPM)
Torque (lb-ft.)
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
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About Nathan Leipsig

Deputy Editor Nathan is a passionate enthusiast with a penchant for finding 80s and 90s European vehicles. He can typically be found messing about on his E28 5-series or on Kijiji looking for the next project. Current Toys: '23 Miata Club 6MT, '86 535i, '99 Beetle TDI 5MT