This is kind of a secret. There’s a cheap cute-ute that can do light off-roading, tough winter driving, decent towing and is surprisingly roomy. It also does 0-60 in the 6 second range and tops out around 140mph. It’s a Toyota RAV4! Before you start laughing, it’s a 3rd gen with the available 270hp 3.5 liter V6. Think of that for a second. Someone at Toyota decided to put a V6 in a little RAV4. Despite all of the smaller, less powerful V6's to choose from, they pick the most powerful. I don’t know the reasoning but I like it. I have embarrassed many a ricer with our RAV4... once while pulling a trailer! 

I bought it for my wife because we needed the room (and the safety of ABS, stability control and a bunch of airbags) but I also wanted something fast... or at least fun. My only other option (in my price range) was an older Forester XT that’s more rare and more expensive. I just happen to run into this RAV4 while contemplating on settling for a 4-cylinder RAV4.

The best part - no one wants them because they want the “more economical” 4-cylinder model, front wheel-drive model... which only gets a mile or two more miles out of a gallon. I got my wife’s RAV4 cheap because it sat on the lot so long due to that V6 badge on the grille. Also, it’s a Sport so it has wider 18 inch wheels, wheel flairs, a larger spoiler, stiffer springs, etc. With AWD, it corners pretty good for a Japanese cute-ute but does have a choppy ride.

No one ever expects to get beat by a RAV4. The best reactions are from the hopped up bro-trucks. Their heads just can’t fathom a soccer mom’s wagon jumping them at the light and charging ahead.