I think it is the appealing styling as much as anything, the side mouldings and nose cone are rather cute really and if you got the Cruiser pack you had a sunroof and mags to play with but apart from that they are basic, functional and hardwearing inside. The boot has a good capacity and can fit four large suitcases with ease despite the car being on the small side.
The 2.0litre engine was scrapped in favour of a 2.4 for the later versions of this model (the ACA23R) and I think this was a good move. The official figures of 110kw@6000rpm don't illustrate the feling you get from having a lack of power when you need it. she's not a monster but it really does need something a little more gutsy to get it feeling "right". I sometimes don't feel very confident on the road as I know that this engine just doesn't have the guts when I need it. I think the 2.4 would be much better but that is just an assumption actually the figures stack up pretty similar with only 120kw from the 2.4l and apparently identical fuel economy- I am not sure how this can be!
The RAV4 is constant 4X4 but I have never used one off road (I am more of a soft -roader sort of woman!) so I can't speak to it's capabilities in this regards but my feeling is that they are not really ideal for a classic 4X4 off-road situation. Having said that they do have the ease of driving you expect from a Toyota (like a Corolla on stilts!), fuel economy is good (I only have the urban figures- a respectable 9.5l/100km), they are super reliable and even with half hearted maintenance they would still go forever.