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View all Toyota RAV4 reviews
Parkers overall rating: 3.6 out of 5 3.6

Spacious SUV let down by unpolished hybrid powertrain

Toyota RAV4 SUV Review Video
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PROS

  • Low running costs
  • Impressive performance
  • Strong practicality
  • Level of standard safety kit

CONS

  • Poor refinement from hybrid powerplant
  • Clunky infotainment system
  • No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
  • So-so interior design

PROS

  • Low running costs
  • Impressive performance
  • Strong practicality
  • Level of standard safety kit

CONS

  • Poor refinement from hybrid powerplant
  • Clunky infotainment system
  • No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
  • So-so interior design

Toyota RAV4 SUV rivals

The Toyota RAV4 is a medium-sized family SUV that has the distinction of being the only car in its class that comes with a self-charging petrol hybrid powertrain only.

What’s more, it’s the first SUV to be based on Toyota-Lexus’ GA-L architecture, plus comes with the latest incarnation of the Japanese manufacturer’s Safety Sense safety technology.

Toyota RAV4 side-on

Rivals include the Honda CR-V – also available with a hybrid powertrain – and more conventionally powered options like the Ford Kuga, Skoda Karoq and Hyundai Tucson.

So, is the new platform and hybrid-only gamble enough to elevate the RAV4 to the top of its class? Read on to find out.

RAV4’s hybrid powertrain lacks polish 

While more than punchy enough for everyday use, the 215hp (219hp on all-wheel drive models) 2.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor(s) combination lacks the polish, refinement and driveability of conventional petrol and diesel models.

READ: Looking for something a little smaller? Take a look at our Toyota C-HR review

BUY: Browse a wide range of used Toyota RAV4s 

Most attempts to make significant progress are met by flared revs and a raucous noise from under the bonnet as the CVT transmission selects a lower ratio. Such a setup can work well, but it just doesn’t feel that refined in the RAV4, with an equivalent diesel or petrol SUV delivering a far more tractable experience.

Toyota RAV4 2.5-litre VVT-i petrol engine

On the plus side, claimed fuel economy is up to 51mpg (impressive for a car of this size and performance), while CO2 comes in at just 102g/km on front-wheel drive models with 17-inch wheels.

Focuses on comfort rather than sportiness

The RAV4 deals well with 90% of road surfaces and only feels unsettled by smaller, scattered surface imperfections or large expansion joints and potholes. Otherwise, it’s pliant and well-judged, staying surprisingly body roll (where the body of the car leans out of corners) free at normal speeds.

Toyota RAV4 driving

If you’re looking to have fun behind the wheel, however, you’re better off opting for a SEAT Ateca or Ford Kuga, both delivering sharper driving experiences than the RAV4.

Outright grip is fine and the chassis offers a reasonable amount of feedback in the bends, yet the steering is totally inert and front-wheel drive models frequently spin their driven wheels under heavy throttle load. 

Solid interior and enough kit, but lacking Apple CarPlay/Android Auto

Interior quality is a step up over the previous generation RAV4 and there’s still a reassuring feeling of durability from all of the switches and buttons. The dashboard display is clear, and the most important controls easy to operate.

Toyota RAV4 interior

Sadly, though, there’s still not the design flair on show that we’ve seen in then C-HR, plus the infotainment system continues to lag behind rivals with clunky graphics and an unintuitive sat-nav.

Used Toyota RAV4s for sale

Such troubles can usually be looked past since the introduction of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but for some reason you can’t get either on the RAV4 – even as an option.

Plenty of rear-seat space and a capacious boot

Both front and rear seat passengers shouldn’t be short of space in the RAV4, with generous amounts of head and legroom afforded. What’s more, the tunnel running through the centre of the car is smaller than it is on most rivals, giving the rear middle seat passengers greater space to put their feet.

Toyota RAV4 bootspace

Bootspace is equally impressive, with oodles of room seats up or seats down and more than competitive with the RAV4’s rivals. Additional practicality aids include the absence of a loading lip, underfloor storage compartments and a 12V power supply. The only disappointment is the lack of a 40:20:40 seat-folding arrangement ­­– the 60:40 split hampering flexibility.

Toyota Safety Sense 2 fitted as standard

The second generation of the Japanese brand’s active safety technology, Toyota Safety Sense 2 is designed to help the vehicle avoid accidents by warning the driver of an impending collision or, in some cases, automatically taking evasive action.

Standard-fit on the RAV4, Safety Sense 2 includes a Pre-Collision System (essentially like autonomous emergency braking), Road Sign Assist (traffic sign recognition), Lane Tracing Assist (active lane-keeping technology) and adaptive cruise control.

Toyota RAV4 rear light cluster

As for improvements over the first generation system, the technology is now capable of spotting pedestrians in low-light conditions, and cyclists in daylight hours.

Toyota RAV4 SUV rivals

Other Toyota RAV4 models: