Toyota RAV4 LE vs. XLE


Deciding between the Toyota RAV4 LE and XLE trim levels is no small task. Both trim levels share many similarities, but there are significant differences that you should consider.

When I was in the market for a RAV4 a couple of years ago, I spent a lot of time researching different trim levels. Since I didn’t need the extra features offered by the high-end trims, my search process was focused on the LE and XLE, which are the two lowest trim levels offered on the RAV4.

In this comprehensive guide, we will compare all similarities and differences in features, appearance, pricing, and more.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of which RAV4 trim is best for your needs and preferences.

Key Differences

Before we get into the details, let’s start with a comparison summarizing the main differences between the LE and XLE.

Wheels:

  • LE: Steel wheels with silver 6-spoke wheel covers
  • XLE: Alloy wheels with 5-spoke light gray design

Mirrors:

  • LE: Standard black side mirrors (optional color-keyed heated mirrors w/ turn signals and BSM)
  • XLE: Standard color-keyed heated side mirrors w/ turn signals and BSM

Lighting:

  • LE: Multi-LED headlights (black bezels) and Automatic High Beams (AHB)
  • XLE: LED projector headlights (chrome bezels) with Automatic High Beams (AHB) and auto on/off

Windshield Wipers:

  • LE: Intermittent windshield wipers, w/ intermittent rear window wiper
  • XLE:
    • Variable intermittent windshield wipers, w/ intermittent rear window wiper
    • (Optional) Rain-sensing variable intermittent windshield wipers with a de-icer function, w/ intermittent rear window wiper

Exterior Appearance:

  • LE: Flush roof
  • XLE: Black low-profile roof rails

Technology Features:

  • LE: Manual rear liftgate
  • XLE: Heigh-adjustable, powered rear liftgate
  • LE: No moonroof
  • XLE: Power tilt/slide moonroof w/ one-touch open and close

Interior Colors:

  • LE: Black or Nutmeg fabric
  • XLE: Ash, Black, or Nutmeg fabric

Seats:

  • LE: Fabric-trimmed seats w/ 6-way adjustable driver’s seat
  • XLE: Fabric-trimmed seats with embossed polygonal-design seat inserts and 8-way power-adjustable front driver’s seat w/ lumbar support

Climate Controls:

  • LE: Basic climate control
  • XLE: Dual-zone climate control

Key Systems:

  • LE: Remote keyless entry
  • XLE: (Optional) Remote keyless entry w/ smart key system and push button start

Pricing:

  • LE: Starts at $27,575
  • XLE: Starts at $29,085

Exterior

modified toyota rav4

First, I will discuss the exterior similarities between the two trims.

Similarities

Both the LE and XLE include these exterior features:

  • 8.4-inch ground clearance
  • 5 color options: Magnetic Gray Metallic, Silver Sky Metallic, Ice Cap, Midnight Black Metallic, and Ruby Flare Pearl
  • LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
  • Privacy glass on all liftgate, rear side, and quarter windows
  • Aerodynamic underbody panels including vortex generators
  • Front and rear wheel spats
  • Integrated rear spoiler
  • Dual chrome-tipped exhaust
  • Black hexagon bar front grille
  • LED taillights
  • Color-keyed shark-fin antenna (roof-mounted)

It’s great that the LE and XLE share lots of great exterior design features. There’s plenty to like here regardless of which trim level you choose.

Differences

Now, let’s compare the exterior differences between these two RAV4 trims.

Colors

For starters, the XLE offers two additional exterior paint colors: Lunar Rock and Blueprint.

Lunar Rock
blueprint color swatch
Blueprint

These colors are both great reasons to opt for the XLE trim if they match your style. Outside of Ruby Flare Pearl (red), the colors on the LE are a bit basic.

Lunar Rock is a highly sought-after color, so it may be worth the upgrade if you’re a fan. Blueprint is also a great option for those seeking a stylish color that still flies under the radar.

Wheels

Additionally, while both RAV4 models have 17″ wheels, the design is different:

  • LE: Steel wheels with silver 6-spoke wheel covers
  • XLE: Alloy wheels with 5-spoke light gray design
le wheel close up
LE Wheel Design
xle wheel close up
XLE Wheel Design

I’ll admit that the steel wheels on the LE are not a pretty sight. The steel behind the plastic wheel covers is pretty noticeable when viewing it in person. This is my least favorite aspect of the LE’s appearance. The XLE’s alloy wheels are a huge upgrade over the LE’s steel wheels.

If you’re someone who admires nice wheels and you choose the LE, you may find yourself spending money to upgrade them. For that reason, it might be worth choosing the XLE instead.

Side Mirrors

There are also differences in the outside mirrors between these trims:

  • LE: Standard black side mirrors (optional color-keyed heated mirrors with turn signals and blind spot monitor)
  • XLE: Standard color-keyed heated side mirrors with turn signals and blind spot monitor
LE side mirror
Standard LE Side Mirror
XLE side mirror
Standard XLE Side Mirror or Optional LE Side Mirror

Without any options, the LE comes with standard black side mirrors with no frills, but it does offer the same side mirror configuration as the XLE when you add optional blind spot monitoring (BSM).

If you go with the LE, the optional BSM is worth adding, which also means you’ll get the same side mirrors as the XLE. Otherwise, the standard black side mirrors on the LE look fine.

Headlights

While both models have standard LED headlights, there are some differences in the lighting equipment:

  • LE: Multi-LED headlights (black bezels) and Automatic High Beams (AHB)
  • XLE: LED projector headlights (chrome bezels) with Automatic High Beams (AHB) and auto on/off
LE Headlights
XLE Headlights

I had concerns that the LE’s multi-LED headlights would not provide sufficient lighting on the road, but upon testing I found them to be sufficient. Both the LE and XLE’s headlights are great at illuminating the road.

However, the style of the XLE’s headlights is a significant upgrade over the LE. They look much more futuristic, while the LE’s headlights look pretty basic. This is one of the biggest differences in exterior appearance outside of the wheels.

The auto on/off headlights is also a nice convenience feature that is offered on the XLE.

Door Handles

Both models also include color-keyed outside door handles, but the XLE adds a touch-sensor lock/unlock feature on the front doors.

The touch-sensing lock/unlock is a huge benefit, in my opinion. It means you won’t need to take your key out of your pocket to unlock the doors. Simply grab the handle with the key nearby and it will open. However, some people see this as a security risk.

Windshield Wipers

Looking at the windshield wipers, there’s also a difference between these trims:

  • LE: Intermittent windshield wipers, plus an intermittent rear window wiper
  • XLE: Variable intermittent windshield wipers, plus an intermittent rear window wiper (standard) or the available rain-sensing variable intermittent windshield wipers with a de-icer function, along with an intermittent rear window wiper

Without adding the XLE-grade weather package, the LE and XLE have very similar windshield wiper configurations. The XLE just gives you a bit more control over the speed.

However, adding the weather package to the XLE adds rain-sensing technology and de-icing which are worth considering if your area receives a lot of heavy weather.

Other

There are some other minor exterior differences between the LE and XLE:

  • XLE comes standard with low-profile black roof rails that aren’t included with the LE.
  • XLE has a height-adjustable power liftgate with jam protection
  • XLE has a power tilt/slide moonroof with one-touch open and close.

(toyota.com)

Interior

toyota rav4 ash interior fabric front seats

Similarities

When it comes to the interior of the RAV4, the LE and XLE share a lot of similarities.

Here are the interior features shared between both models:

  • Same interior dimensions
  • Rear liftgate window defogger
  • LED front-seat reading lights
  • Dome light
  • Cargo area light
  • Height-adjustable rear cargo area deckboard
  • Two front and two rear bottle holders
  • Two front and two rear cup holders
  • Day/night rearview mirror

These interior features are pretty standard in the auto industry, so it’s not surprising that these models share these similarities.

Differences

There are a few notable differences between the interior of the LE and XLE.

Colors

Starting with the interior colors, there are a few differences:

  • LE: Available in Black or Nutmeg fabric.
  • XLE: Available in Ash, Black, or Nutmeg fabric.

Black and Nutmeg are very common interior colors. They get the job done well, but it’s nice that the XLE offers the unique Ash interior to set itself apart from the LE. If you’re a fan of the multi-shaded Ash interior, the XLE might be worth choosing.

Seats

These differences are seen in the seats on each trim:

  • LE: Fabric-trimmed seats with a 6-way adjustable front driver’s seat and 4-way adjustable front passenger seat with seatback pocket
  • XLE: Fabric-trimmed seats with embossed polygonal-design seat inserts and an 8-way power-adjustable front driver’s seat with lumbar support, along with a 4-way adjustable front passenger seat with seatback pocket
  • The LE doesn’t come with heated front seating, but it can be added to the XLE trim.

The XLE has a clear advantage over the LE when it comes to the seats. The additional adjustments and lumbar support make for a more comfortable ride. It’s also nice that heated seats are an option on the XLE. That’s something I wish the LE had available.

The polygonal design of the XLE seats are nice touch as well.

Climate Controls

Each trim has a different climate control system:

  • With the RAV4 LE, you get standard basic climate control settings.
  • The XLE comes standard with dual-zone climate control.
LE Basic Climate Controls
XLE Dual-Zone Climate Controls

The XLE’s dual-zone climate control is helpful for maximum comfort if you have a passenger with different temperature preferences, however, it can be more difficult to use. There are more buttons to press to dial it in to your preferences.

Alternatively, the LE’s basic climate controls are very simple and easy to use while driving. The left knob controls the airflow intensity and the right knob controls the temperature.

Key Systems

The key systems are also different:

  • The RAV4 LE includes remote keyless entry, but it doesn’t have a push button start with a smart key.
  • The smart key and push button start are available on the XLE trim.

The XLE’s smart key system is a great benefit that most people enjoy. It allows you to unlock your vehicle and start it without having to take the key out of your pocket or bag. However, some people have concerns about keyless car theft.

On the LE, you’ll need to press a button on the fob to unlock the doors and deploy the engine start key. The key is inserted into the ignition on the right side of the steering wheel and turned to start the engine.

(toyota.com)

Safety and Tech

In today’s RAV4 models, you find the latest tech and safety features for an enjoyable and safe ride. When it comes to entertainment and connectivity features, the LE and XLE are practically identical.

Similarities

Both RAV4 models include these tech features:

  • 8″ multimedia display
  • 6-speaker sound system
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
  • SiriusXM® with a 3-month trial subscription

Unfortunately, this means there is no premium JBL audio available on either of these trims. You’re stuck with the basic audio system.

The safety features are mostly the same between the two trims.

With either RAV4 trim, you receive the following safety features:

  • Toyota Safety Sense™ 2.5 (TSS 2.5) System – including Road Sign Assist, Pre-Collision detection, Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Tracing Assist, Lane Departure Alert, Steering Assist and Automatic High Beams
  • Star Safety Package – including Traction Control, Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Anti-lock brakes, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, plus Smart Stop Technology
  • Trailer-Sway Control (TSC)
  • Backup camera complete with dynamic gridlines
  • Hill Start Assist Control (HAC)

I’m quite impressed with the safety features available on these trims. The Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Lane Tracing Assist are particularly useful and I’m surprised that they were included on these low-end RAV4 trims.

Differences

The only safety difference between the LE and XLE is that the Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert system are available with the base model. However, the XLE includes this technology standard for no extra cost.

Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert are worth the upgrade for most people. The price is reasonable (inquire with your Toyota dealer) and the safety benefits are immense.

(toyota.com)

Price and Value

The 2023 Toyota RAV4 price is important to consider after evaluating the differences. The only way to know if the higher trim is worth the expense is to see how much it costs.

There has been a price increase for the 2023 Toyota RAV4, but it doesn’t break the bank.

With either model, you get quite the deal on pricing:

  • LE MSRP: $27,575
  • XLE MSRP: $29,085

That’s a price difference of only $1,510. For that extra money, you receive:

  • Additional exterior and interior color options
  • Turn signal and blind spot warning indicators
  • Push-button start with a smart key
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Low-profile black roof rails
  • Cargo area tonneau cover
  • Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert system

Besides these features that are standard on the XLE trim, there are also optional equipment packages for an extra cost that aren’t available with the LE model.

Consider these features and decide if they are valuable to you. Since the price difference is not too significant, it may be worth the upgrade if you find a couple of these features useful.

Which Should You Buy?

Is the additional $1,510 worth upgrading to the 2023 RAV4 XLE from the LE?

There are a lot of extra features that make this model a great value. Not only are there enhanced exterior features and colors, but the interior is also enriched.

The connectivity remains the same between the two and entertainment features are similar, but there are some minor safety differences. Not only that but there are available packages that can’t be found with the LE. If you are willing to spend a little extra, it’s possible to completely customize the XLE to fit any need.

For this reason, I generally recommend the XLE if you like to extra features it offers. It’s not that great of a price difference, but the perks are great.

With that said, there’s nothing wrong with the RAV4 LE trim. If you prefer to save some money, this entry-level RAV4 model is still sure to meet your basic driving needs.

Personally, I went with the LE since I didn’t care about those extra features. Although, I did add the Blind Spot Monitor and rubber floor mats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many aspects of the two are the same, but there are some upgraded exterior and interior features with the XLE. Additionally, dual-zone automatic climate control, a smart key and Blind Spot Monitor are included as standard equipment with the XLE.

No. The 2023 RAV4 LE comes only with keyless entry. To get the push-button start with the smart key, you need to upgrade to the RAV4 XLE trim.

No, the 2023 RAV4 LE doesn’t come standard with the Blind Spot Monitor. You must pay extra to include it with the LE trim. However, it is standard with the XLE trim and higher.

To Choose the RAV4 LE or XLE

When it comes time to order or choose a 2023 Toyota RAV4, there are a lot of decisions to make. One that doesn’t need to consume a lot of your time is whether to pick the LE or XLE trim. Both have a lot to offer, but the XLE comes with far more features.

Review the options available to determine if the XLE is a good enough value for your needs. Remember, there’s also the option to choose a higher trim level if you find the XLE doesn’t provide enough.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this comparison! Leave a comment below letting us know which trim you prefer and why.

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5 Comments

  1. Leslie Lenhart says:

    I have a 2012 RAV4, it has 4×4 whee drive its not the AWD. I want to know if they still make a 4 x 4? Can you tell me?

    1. Jonathan Buckley says:

      Hi Leslie,

      No, they do not make 4×4 anymore unfortunately!

  2. Leanne Carrington says:

    Hi, I just bought a 2023 XLE. It is the base model of that version. My old Honda Crv had walk-away-lock feature, does the XLE? I really miss that option, I hate having to rub the door handle to lock my car!

    1. Jonathan Buckley says:

      Unfortunately, no RAV4 has that feature. Maybe in the future!

  3. I have an LE and I had to upgrade the interior bulbs to LED because they were incandescent and dim and the car didn’t come with any floormats. I put rubber liners in the tray compartments to keep stuff from sliding around and upgraded the wheels because I didn’t like the XLE wheels either.