- Good reliability record
- Decent resale values
- Not as stylish as rivals
- Interior is a little dull
The first generation of the Toyota RAV4 created a new compact sector back in 1994 and this fourth generation will have to be at its best given that it has at least 20 competitors including the Honda CR-V, the VW Tiguan and the Ford Kuga to name but a few.
This new version of the RAV4 is sleeker and more eye-catching than before. It is longer and wider but also lower, giving it a sportier appearance.
Bigger boot space
Thanks to the longer dimensions, the RAV4 has an increased capacity when it comes to loadspace. With the seats in place the RAV4 has a maximum space of 547 litres while an extra 49 litres have been added to the compartment underneath the load area, taking capacity up to 100 litres and making it much more usable.
The sole petrol engine available is the 149bhp 2.0-litre unit mated to a CVT automatic gearbox. This version emits 167g/km of CO2 and comes in all-wheel drive only.
Two diesel engines are on offer. There’s a 122bhp 2.0-litre unit mated to a manual six-speed ’box on the front-wheel drive version or there’s a more powerful 148bhp 2.2-litre engine, available with four-wheel drive only. It can be combined with either a six-speed manual gearbox or you can opt for a six-speed automatic transmission.
The most popular engine is likely to be the 122bhp 2.0-litre diesel in the two-wheel drive RAV4. With average fuel consumption of 57mpg it is the most frugal engine in the range and also has the lowest CO2 emissions, at 127g/km, which puts it into road tax band D.
Toyota has aimed to improve the RAV4’s driving dynamics by adding a high-speed management system only available on the four-wheel drive models. The clever kit has two selectable modes, Normal and Sport. When in Normal mode (the default setting) power is transferred to the rear wheels when the front wheels are slipping or when the car loses traction while cornering.
Engage the Sport mode and the power starts to be transferred to the rear wheels from the moment you turn the steering, with 10% of the power going to the rear wheels.
However, if the car does not turn enough when driving through a corner (so-called understeer) the system will transfer up to 50% of the power to the rear wheels, helping to tighten the car’s line further still.
The Sport switch also modifies key elements of the car: the steering assistance is reduced, throttle response is sharpened and the CVT or automatic gearbox operates with higher revs for a sportier experience.
There’s also a 4WD lock button to be used when driving off-road. This allows a front/rear 50:50 power distribution at speeds up to 25mph for greater traction. Above 25mph the car automatically reverts to the normal driving mode.
Toyota RAV4 equipment and accessories
In line with the rest of Toyota’s 4x4 range, there are three Toyota RAV4 trim levels: Active, Icon and Invincible.
A host of safety systems includes Downhill Assist, available for four-wheel-drive versions, which automatically controls gear selection, engine speed and the ABS’ individual wheel braking – very useful when driving in snow or ice.
The kit list also includes lane departure warning, which gives an audible warning and displays a flashing light on the dash should you stray out of the lane.
You can also specify a blind spot monitor, where a light indicates on the door mirror making you aware that there is a car in your blind spot. Even if you are indicating to turn right and a vehicle is in your blind spot, you will still be alerted to their presence by a flashing light at fixed intervals.
To find out more about Toyota’s small 4x4, read on for the full Toyota RAV4 review.
What owners say about this car
The Toyota Rav4 is ideal for carrying large loads in comfort over long distances. The actual MPG I am... Read owner review