Parkers overall rating: 3.8 out of 5 3.8
  • Solidly built cabin
  • Lacklustre infotainment system
  • Smartphone connectivity a recent addition

How is the quality and layout?

The RAV4’s cabin is an improvement over the previous model with a larger central touchscreen, a digital dashboard (although it still has some analogue parts) and super sturdy build quality on show. As is usually the case with Toyota, the RAV4’s cabin feels built to last with no signs of any creaks or rattles. You won’t be getting the last word in premium materials, but it does the job and will almost certainly last the course. We do like some of the details though, with rubberised buttons and knobs that feel nice, blue stitching across the dash on some trims and a solid feel overall.

For the last word in refinement from a RAV4, the Plug-in Hybrid is more than just a bigger battery. Toyota has added sound insulation around the front end and even upgraded the front side windows to the kind of ‘acoustic glass’ that you find on luxury cars. This complements the changes in the way the plug-in works to deliver power, where the engine is more subdued overall and ‘silent’ EV power is available at speeds of up to 84mph for a maximum of 46 miles.

Infotainment and tech

Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone connectivity comes as standard on all trim levels, making the infotainment set-up far more usable.

This is a good thing, because Toyota’s own infotainment system, although an improvement over the previous generation, still lacks the polish, intuitiveness and clarity of the best in class. It’s not unusable, but quite a way off the simplicity of a Hyundai Tucson’sVW Tiguan’s systems.

Comfort

  • Comfortable ride on all models
  • Seats are squashy yet supportive
  • Hybrid is louder than Plug-in Hybrid

Drive the RAV4 just a few hundred yards, and you’ll quickly figure out it’s geared for comfort over sportiness. Unlike some rival models, the RAV4 has the same suspension set-up regardless of trim or drivetrain, so comfort is consistent across the range. The car delivers a mature and composed performance over the vast majority of road surfaces and at all speeds. Motorway expansion joints can upset the balance, while any larger dips or potholes aren’t particularly well insulated from the cabin, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary when compared with the RAV4’s rivals.

The RAV4’s engine can make a bit of noise when accelerating, more so than in some equivalent petrol or diesels. It’s not the only issue, either, as while the tyres emit little background roar at speed, interference from wind noise is far more pronounced. Get up to motorway speeds and you’re sure to notice it, especially when cruising at a constant speed with engine revs low.

This is much improved in the RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, which features more sound insulation around the front and engine compartment, and double-glazed front windows that very effectively reduce sound from the outside. The engine also works less often and less hard in the PHEV. If you don’t put your foot down regularly, and keep the car plugged in at home, you may forget it has an engine at all.

The seats – even those on lesser models – are a nice balance between being supportive and cushioned on long journeys, with things only improving as you move up the range. The high ride height helps with comfort in terms of getting in and out, along with outward visibility on the move. What you might find is that the passenger seat is too high in comparison with the driver’s seat, with height adjustment not available across all models. It feels a strange omission as taller passengers will feel the pinch.