Original Owner? 1997 Toyota RAV4 Dual Sunroof 4×4 5-Speed – SOLD!

by | Oct 2023 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Truckin Tuesday

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October 17, 2023, Update – When we first featured this hard-to-find early Toyota RAV4, we predicted it would only be on the market for a few days.  We were right as we confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing less than one week after posting it, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

You might be surprised to learn what vehicle is the most popular among the many requests we receive from potential buyers looking for one.  You may think we’re talking about some limited-production supercar, but surprise! It’s a Toyota RAV4. But not just any RAV4: a first-generation two-door hardtop model with a 5-speed manual gearbox, locking differential, and dual sunroofs. It’s about as rare as it gets for a Toyota truck made in the last 25 years.

The combination of 30+ MPG, serious offroad chops, and bullet-proof Toyota reliability makes the first-generation Toyota RAV4 a highly desirable piece.  This red 1997 Toyota RAV4 for sale, first spotted on Craigslist in Reno, Nevada in October 2023, is easily the nicest two-door example we’ve ever come across since starting GuysWithRides.com.  The seller seems to hint they are the original owner, but you will need to confirm that with them. While the mileage indicated is 250,000, the seller quickly points out that most of that was accumulated while towing their RAV4 behind an RV.

Last offered for $4,600, Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask is above this guide’s six-month rolling results trend for similar first-generation Toyota RAV4 models.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can get a sense of what comparable examples sold for recently:

As a second data point, the downloadable 2023 Old Cars Price Guide Big Book confirms the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #3 “Good” estimate of $3,150, and its #2 “Very Good” appraisal of $4,900 for a completely stock example.  At this asking price, we predict this clean 1997 Toyota Rav4 for sale won’t last but a few days on Craigslist.  Stay tuned!

The year 1997 marked a significant milestone in the automotive industry, with Toyota introducing the second generation of its groundbreaking RAV4 (Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive). The 1997 Toyota RAV4 was a compact SUV that captured the hearts of adventure enthusiasts and set new standards in terms of versatility, reliability, and fuel efficiency.

The 1997 RAV4 retained the essence of its predecessor but featured a more refined and modern design. With its compact dimensions, stylish exterior, and elevated driving position, it struck a perfect balance between a traditional SUV and a compact car. The RAV4 was available in two- and four-door configurations, catering to a wide range of customers.

One of the standout design features of the 1997 RAV4 was its sporty appearance. It featured flared wheel arches, integrated front fog lights, and a spare tire mounted on the rear tailgate. These design elements added to the RAV4’s rugged appeal and hinted at its off-road capabilities.

Inside the 1997 RAV4, Toyota focused on maximizing space and comfort. The cabin was well-appointed with quality materials, and the seats were comfortable for both the driver and passengers. The rear seats could be folded flat to create a generous cargo space, making it practical for hauling gear or luggage during outdoor adventures.

The dashboard was thoughtfully designed, with clear and easy-to-read instruments. Standard features included air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, and a cassette player. While it may not have had the high-tech gadgets of today’s SUVs, the 1997 RAV4 offered a comfortable and functional interior for its time.

Under the hood, the 1997 RAV4 came equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produced 120 horsepower. This engine was paired with either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic, allowing buyers to choose the transmission that suited their driving preferences.

The RAV4’s on-road performance was commendable for a compact SUV of its era. It offered a smooth and comfortable ride, and its compact size made it agile and easy to maneuver in urban settings. The available four-wheel-drive system provided enhanced traction and off-road capabilities, making the RAV4 a versatile choice for various driving conditions.

One of the key selling points of the 1997 RAV4 was its excellent fuel efficiency. With its lightweight construction and efficient four-cylinder engine, the RAV4 delivered impressive miles per gallon (MPG) figures. This made it an attractive option for budget-conscious buyers and those looking for a daily driver with low running costs.

Safety was a priority for Toyota even in the late 1990s, and the 1997 RAV4 reflected this commitment. It came equipped with standard safety features such as dual airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), and side-impact door beams. These safety measures contributed to the RAV4’s reputation for reliability and ensured that drivers and passengers were well-protected.

The 1997 Toyota RAV4 left a lasting impact on the automotive industry. It played a pivotal role in popularizing the compact SUV segment, which has since become one of the most competitive and sought-after vehicle categories worldwide. The RAV4’s combination of versatility, reliability, and fuel efficiency set a benchmark that many other manufacturers have strived to meet.

Over the years, the RAV4 has continued to evolve and adapt to changing consumer preferences. It has grown in size, offering more interior space and advanced technology while still retaining its core values of reliability and practicality. Today, the RAV4 is one of Toyota’s best-selling vehicles and remains a top choice for families, outdoor enthusiasts, and urban dwellers alike.

The 1997 Toyota RAV4 holds a special place in automotive history as a trailblazer in the compact SUV segment. Its stylish design, practical interior, impressive fuel efficiency, and commitment to safety made it a compelling choice for buyers in the late 1990s. Its legacy lives on in the modern RAV4, which has built upon the foundation laid by its predecessor.

As we look back at the 1997 RAV4, we can appreciate the vision and innovation that Toyota brought to the table. It was a vehicle that offered a glimpse of the future, where compact SUVs would become a dominant force on the road. Whether you remember it fondly or are discovering it for the first time, the 1997 Toyota RAV4 remains a classic that continues to inspire admiration and respect among automotive enthusiasts.

The MotorWeek Retro Review YouTube Channel provides a nice overview of what it’s like to start and drive a Willys Jeepster:

The quarter-of-a-million miles accumulated on this red 1997 Toyota RAV4 for sale belie this compact SUV’s condition, particularly in the like-new interior.  While the seller doesn’t mention it, the fact their 1997 Toyota RAV4 features four-wheel-drive and a five-speed manual transmission likely means their rare SUV also features a locking center differential.  The only thing we would change is the removal of the over-stuffed steering wheel cover.

If you are serious about buying this RAV4, you can start the conversation by using the contact information provided by the seller in their Craigslist ad.  When you connect, please mention that you saw their Toyota SUV featured here on GuysWithRides.com. Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1997 Toyota RAV4, 2-door 4 x 4. I have purchased this vehicle in 1997. This vehicle has been towed behind an RV for 10 years it has 150k miles driven and 100,000 miles towed behind an RV it’s been oil changed every 3000 miles service records. Timing chain was done at 175k 4 x 4, five-speed brand new tires in great condition non-smoker just been smog clear title backseat never satin fully loaded to sunroofs AC blows, cold cruise control, four-cylinder any other questions please call or text

Show or go: What would you do with this 1997 Toyota RAV4 For Sale? Please comment below and let us know!


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