Toyota’s RAV4 reviewed

PUBLISHED: 07:55 15 May 2014 | UPDATED: 07:55 15 May 2014

Toyota's RAV4

Toyota's RAV4

Archant

The latest fourth-generation model is sleeker and more practical

Toyota is currently celebrating 20 years of the RAV4, the original soft roader. This ‘Recreational Active Vehicle with four-wheel drive’ was 
a sensation, sparking a ‘RAVolution’ that other manufacturers simply had to join.

Toyota was forced to double production levels within a month of launch and soon yielded to customer demand for a five-door version to augment the original three-door.

With its small size, grippy, all-wheel drive and big tyres, the new car had usability and affordability, plus fashionable funky chunky 4x4 styling – market watchers dubbed it 
‘The 4x4 GTi’ or ‘The GTi off-roader’.

Four generations on, it enjoys a prestigious sub-brand status: asked what car he or she drives, a RAV4 owner usually says, with a touch of pride, ‘a RAV’ rather than a Toyota.

But success has a downside: lots of wannabe competition. The VW Tiguan, Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, Mazda CX-5 and, particularly, keenly priced opposition from Korea’s Hyundai ix35 and Kia Sportage, have reeled 
in the RAV4’s once pioneering lead.

Its youthful appeal has been surrendered 
in order to please a wider audience or keep original fans happy as they grew older, so dimensions and practicality have grown at the expense of compactness and sportiness.

But the car has loyal fans and the latest fourth generation model (from £22,595) is both sleeker and more practical, with more boot space, a fully flat load floor with seats folded, plus generous under floor stowage.

It has also gained a lifting tailgate, which people prefer for easy loading and as a rain shelter, and the rear now seats three in comfort, with generous leg and headroom and a virtually flat floor, allowing all rear passengers to alight either side

The latest car also appears even more rock solid, but there is a marked lack of flair about the new cabin and while the big infotainment touchscreen works well, it is dull and off the pace set by some other mainstream brands.

But there is plenty of stowage space, the commanding driving position that made 
the original car so popular is still a highlight, handling remains sure-footed, body roll is well-controlled on corners and ride quality is forgiving enough to make it a good all-rounder.

Powertrain options are diesel, except for a 2.0-litre petrol with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) ‘box, but you’ll pay just £900 more to get the equivalent diesel 4x4 model and an extra 10mpg on average.

If economy is your key issue, check out the cheaper front-wheel, drive-only variants. Toyota was a pioneer in offering this choice on early RAV4s, but the market wasn’t ready; now people recognise that economy and lower running costs and emissions are as important as SUV style. The latest RAV4 should please on both counts and comes with Toyota’s five-year/100,000-mile warranty. n

More from Motoring

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

It turns out there’s a lot you can do in van business. We talk to those who have pushed the boundaries when it comes to working on the road.

Read more
Monday, March 16, 2020

Jet Wheel Tyre offers some invaluable advice on tyres and ensuring your car remains road worthy

Read more
Friday, March 6, 2020

Ray Chapman Motors officially unveiled their new York dealership, at York Business Park, Poppleton.

Read more
Friday, February 28, 2020

One of the best ways to experience the raw beauty of Surrey is by car: roof down, picnic hamper on the back seat, taking a leisurely drive through the undulating countryside. Here, drivers from The Supercar Event give us a run-down of the very best Surrey has to offer

Read more

A Ribble Valley company’s leather booster seats are ensuring young passengers can travel in luxurious style

Read more
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

It can be hard to imagine your little one growing up, but it won’t be long until they’re asking to borrow your car keys. Sue Waterfield from Young Driver, the UK’s largest driving school for 10–17-year-olds, explains how early driving tuition can set the foundations for a safer, more confident next generation.

Read more
Friday, January 24, 2020

In built-up places like Brighton, there is very little advantage to purchasing a brand new car. With so few uncongested roads in the south of England – and many other parts of the British Isles, for that matter – a brand new car won’t get you where you are going any faster. Nor will it be any easier to find a car parking space on the road you live on. However, second-hand cars are better in a number of ways. If you are considering buying a car in the near future, why would you opt for a used one rather than a model that has just rolled off the production line?

Read more
Monday, January 13, 2020

Lamborghini has opened a new showroom in Leeds bringing these lust-after motors to Yorkshire. Kathryn Armstrong joined them on a tour of the county’s finest routes.

Read more
Thursday, December 5, 2019

Millions of motorists are convicted of offences every year – but are they all guilty? An expert in motoring law has successfully defended many cases for clients who suddenly found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Read more
Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Trying out some classic cars as part of Goodwood’s Revival Racing Experience

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life