The latest Toyota RAV4 represents a welcome step up from the old model in terms of design, comfort, and functionality – and it’s still very well built and likely solidly reliable. However, it lags behind major rivals when it comes to infotainment, and the lack of a diesel engine might put some off. It drives neat and does very well, but many cheaper competitors offer a similar range of performance.
If you are looking for a well-built, economical, practical and comfortable SUV that is likely to place a high value on reliability, the Toyota RAV4 is a good choice. However, with a starting value of just over £ 31,000, an SUV of this size looks pretty expensive compared to a Skoda Kodiaq.
The Toyota RAV4 may be a relatively modest seller in the UK, but it’s a model of real global importance. In 2017, before the last generation of the RAV4 was phased out, it was the fourth best-selling car in the world – and the best-selling SUV of all.
However, in the 25 years since the original RAV4’s debut, a plethora of similar vehicles have hit the market – to the point that Toyota’s offering risked becoming “just another SUV” swamped by dozens of rivals.
Car group tests
Used car tests
For this fifth generation of the RAV4, Toyota tore up its rules for conservative styling and developed a sharp-edged creation with angular wheel arches that should stand out by a mile compared to Hyundai Tucson or Volkswagen Tiguan. Will it be for everyone? No. But that’s the point; This is a car that will excite some and repel others, and that’s better for Toyota than provoking no reaction at all.
This individuality does not stop at styling either, because at least in Great Britain the RAV4 is mostly only offered as a hybrid. Specifically, it is referred to as a “self-charging hybrid,” which is the marketing language for an electrified vehicle that you cannot plug into a socket.
In reality, it’s a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle gasoline engine mated with an electric motor that puts out 215hp in front-wheel drive RAV4s or 219hp in 4×4 versions. And because this car is only a hybrid, it’s only automatic – or rather just a CVTVT
A new addition to the range is a plug-in hybrid model that combines the 2.5-liter petrol engine, two electric motors and an 18 kWh lithium-ion battery. The system has a combined power of 302 hp,
Below that is another iteration of the Toyota New Generation Architecture (TNGA) platform – the same modular set of chassis components that impressed us among the C-HR, Prius, and Corolla. The chassis configuration is also known, with MacPherson struts at the front and double wishbones at the rear.
The Toyota is offered in four trim levels – with the cheapest of them, Icon, only available with front-wheel drive. Still, the standard specs look decent enough. The entry-level model offers two-zone air conditioning, rear parking sensors and cameras, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Step into the design and get, in addition to the optional all-wheel drive, navigation integrated into the infotainment system, keyless entry and ignition, an electric tailgate, front parking sensors and 18-inch wheels.
Next comes Excel with leather upholstery, heated front seats with electrical adjustment of the driver’s seat, a heated steering wheel, ambient lighting and headlight cleaning system.
And then there’s Dynamic, which is roughly the same spec as Excel but has styling add-ons, including a different design of black-painted 18-inch alloy wheels, a contrasting glossy black roof color, sport seats, and LED projection headlights . Dynamic Premium is only available with the plug-in hybrid model and comes with a panoramic sliding roof, an improved audio setup and ventilated front seats.
The price list also includes the RAV4 Black Edition, which includes black exterior panels and black materials in the interior, a JBL audio system and 19-inch alloy wheels.
For an alternative review of the latest Toyota RAV4 4×4, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk