Raving about the Rav
Toyota RAV4 review
“No more boring cars.” It’s been a couple of years since Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation, uttered these courageous words, and the results of this statement are now beginning to emerge – the new Corolla Hatch, C-HR and the all-new RAV4. Even the new Prius is a gorgeous car, and we couldn’t be happier.
When the first generation RAV4 was launched, back in 1994, it was a revelation – the first compact SUV that was comfortable on tar but could still whisk you off on adventures in distant places. It was fun and funky, designed to stand out and evoke peoples’ emotions, and it was such a success that it created a whole new class of vehicle. But with subsequent generations the Toyota designers took the safe route, creating cars that appealed to the masses but that were a little humdrum. Luckily Mr Toyoda’s inspirational words have changed all that, and the new RAV4 is bold and exciting, a car that stands out amongst the beige SUV crowd with distinctive styling that will no doubt make the RAV4 even more popular than it already is.
The aggressive, almost menacing front grille is the standout feature, a distinctly American design cue that looks like no other car in the segment. But the design is about far more than just that grille, and the polygonal theme is continued through angular LED lights and an edgy profile, beautifully completed by the elegant rear The designers have pushed the boundaries with the squared-off wheel arches, which house very handsome alloy rims in either 17, 18 or 19 inches, model dependent.
Speaking of models, the model-line up has also been broadened to a three-grade strategy, with two engine options. It starts with the two GX models, both front-wheel-drive with a 2-litre petrol engine (127kW and 203Nm), differing only in having a either manual or CVT gearbox. Next up is a single GX-R model with a CVT gearbox and the same 2-litre petrol engine, this time combined with an all-wheel-drive system. The VX grade is, as we have come to expect from Toyota, the top of the range and can be had either with the 2-litre petrol engine and CVT gearbox, or a 2.5-lite petrol engine (152kW and 243Nm) and an 8-speed direct shift automatic gearbox, also with all-wheel-drive. Fuel consumption, growing more important with every monthly fuel increase, is actually very impressive for a vehicle of this size: the 2-litre models claim to use between 6.5L and 6.8L/100km, while the 2.5 VX claims to use 7.3L/100km, and we achieved very similar results in our driving.
While the design of the RAV4 might be daringly different, the folk at Toyota haven’t forgotten that they are actually sensible by nature, and have harnessed this levelheadedness to create an accomplished all-rounder.
For one, the suspension is outstanding, soaking up the bumps and corrugations of a lengthy piece of dirt road that we tackled on our test but still handling well on tar. It also has a decent mechanical all-wheel-drive system in the AWD models, managing torque distribution to the wheels that need it. ‘Mud & Sand’ and ‘Rock & Dirt’ modes can be selected to further improve traction and handling. The engines, too, perform far better in the real world than you might expect of smallish petrol engines in a fairly big car.
And the RAV4 is a big car now – it feels very spacious, with loads of space for five adults and a large boot, thanks to a longer wheelbase and a slightly wider body.
Befitting Toyota’s occupant safety ethos, the new RAV4 is equipped with a raft of safety features. A full suite of airbags are fitted to all models, with electronic driver aids in the form of ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Hill Assist Control (HAC) and Trailer Sway Control all catered for.
The VX model introduces Toyota Safety Sense for the first time on RAV4, which encompasses Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Control, Blind-Spot Monitor (BSM) and Pre-Crash System (PCS). The Adaptive Cruise Control and LDA systems lend a level of autonomous driving by offering steering assist as well as radar-controlled braking in conjunction with acceleration functions.
It’s very hard to find fault with the new RAV4. It’s drawn inspiration from the original, in being different and unique in a world of same-same SUVs, being daring where it can and practical where it needs to be.
- RAV4 2.0 GX MT 2WD – R 416 400
- RAV4 2.0 GX CVT 2WD – R 427 600
- RAV4 2.0 GX-R CVT AWD – R508 100
- RAV4 2.0 VX CVT 2WD – R505 400
- RAV4 2.5 VX 8AT AWD – R577 900
All models carry a 6-services/90 000km service plan with 12-month/15 000km intervals. A 3-year/100 000km warranty is also standard.
Fantastic new exterior design.
Polished and premium interior.
The real-world usability of the engines.
A nice touch is the bottom of the boot, which can be reversed for a plastic cover for dirty loads.