2021 Toyota RAV4 JBL Sound System: Good Blend for the Price

Toyota RAV4 radio JBL

Of the few times we’ve tested a Toyota JBL premium sound system, the first was in a 2020 Toyota Corolla. That test of the JBL system in the Corolla left us surprised that such a satisfactory system is offered in an entry-level sedan. Now, a JBL audio system is also offered in the 2021 Toyota RAV4 producing 800 watts of output to 11 speakers spaced around the cabin including a subwoofer mounted off to the side of the cargo area. We conducted our DailyMotor audio test of the 2021 Toyota RAV4 JBL audio system to see if a Toyota RAV4 JBL system, in the RAV4 Prime specifically, could impress us as much as it did in the Corolla.

The new 2021 Toyota RAV4 JBL sound system in the Prime comes courtesy of a Toyota RAV4 radio and infotainment assembly offering AM/FM/XM radio, USB-A, Bluetooth, Alexa, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto support. A disc player, 3.5mm jack, and USB-C ports are surprisingly not provided. Considering this generation of RAV4 was released in 2019, these are some options that should be available. The RAV4 JBL system offers your basic treble, mid, and bass adjustments and standard 360 degree balance and fade adjustments with an automatic sound levelizer. Toyota JBL advertises a Clari-Fi music restoration technology on JBL’s website that “Transforms the listening experience by restoring lost audio signals.” and “Delivers a rich, uncompressed listening experience from any music source.”

What We Thought of the Toyota RAV4 Radio by JBL

After listening to multiple types of music during our drive in the RAV4 Prime through a lossless USB stick, Charlie found the 800 watts of power to impress him overall in clarity and power. He says it’s not what he expected for this price point despite not being impressed by the Camry, Avalon, and most other Toyota vehicles, but it’s quite refreshing to find such a good blend and mix in power of audio in this and the Corolla. Objectively, Charlie awards the RAV4 JBL with an 8/10 and subjectively he gives the system, for the price point, an 8.5/10 or 9/10. The only thing bringing down the RAV4 JBL’s score is the fact that the infotainment could be designed better and be easier to use. There’s not much else altogether in this class that beats this system other than the Mazda CX-5 Bose.

Watch the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Sound System Test Here:

How We Test the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Audio System

We take audio systems seriously here at Daily Motor. That’s why we take every vehicle, from a crossover like this Toyota RAV4 Prime to supercars like the McLaren 570S, and put them through our rigorous audio-system testing. We use the same lossless, uncompressed WAV audio files on a USB drive plugged into the audio system so that every radio we test starts from the same baseline. To provide a realistic example for the sound experience, we record with high-quality binaural microphones. We test every system with their sound settings set to their factory defaults, because that’s how the radio’s engineers designed it to sound, but we test all the sound settings on many different genres of music before shooting the reviews. After demonstrating the sound settings, adjustments, inputs, speaker locations, and Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay functionality, we head out on the road to listen to our sample tracks at highway speeds. Most cars can sound great while stationary, but road, wind, and engine noise can deteriorate music fidelity. At the end of the test, we give an objective rating based on audio quality and overall system usage as well as a subjective rating factoring in vehicle attributes and price.

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