Top Toyota RAV4 Model Picks:
- Most sensible: Toyota RAV4 2.0D-4D Business Edition
- Most fun: Toyota RAV4 2.0D-4D Excel
- Don’t bother: Toyota RAV4 2.0D-4D Active
- Must-have tech: Toyota Go Plus 3D sat nav, Toyota Safety Sense
The roads are choked with SUVs, their owners looking down on lesser mortals and having quite a time of it – unless they’re driving a Toyota RAV4. ‘The RAV4 has matured into an SUV as straight-laced and middle of the road as they come,’ says Top Gear magazine.
The car’s problem is that testers can’t forget the original model, a kind of hot hatch-SUV. It has ‘less of the individual styling and chuckable handling of the first model,’ bemoans Carbuyer, before acknowledging that with its extra space, bigger boot and lots of practical cubbies, ‘it’s better suited to families.’
What Car? is taken by the fact that it has more space than rivals the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5, and that its rear seats can fold ‘pretty much flat’, a rare attribute in any car.
If only it were better to drive, says Top Gear: ‘The RAV4 isn’t awful to drive… it’s just boring.’ The steering’s light, the wheels are grippy and it’s comfortable but it ‘rolls about in bends, tending towards rampant understeer.’ This is when a vehicle ploughs straight on in a corner, rather than obeying the steering wheel. In testers’ eyes, it’s the ultimate sin.
The RAV4’s engines are a bit of a curate’s egg. All agree with What Car? that the 2.0-litre diesel is only ‘adequate’ and, because it comes with a constantly variable automatic gearbox, the 2.0-litre petrol, ‘noisy’. As for the 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid, Auto Express says it’s ‘great for driving in town [in electric-only mode] as there’s no noise’ but according to Carbuyer, on the open road ‘it’s noisy and feels sluggish’.
‘At least the RAV4 feels like it’ll last forever,’ reckons Top Gear. With its dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, and Toyota’s Safety Sense pack of driver assist features, Business Edition is Carbuyer’s ‘top choice’.
In short, with it’s roomy and practical cabin, five-year warranty and reputation for reliability a RAV4 is an SUV you can buy with your head, not your heart. While it may be among the more expensive SUVs out there, good finance deals and discounts averaging 10% should soften the blow.
Toyota RAV4 Rivals:
The CR-V is easy to drive, practical and well built, and available with a frugal 1.6-litre diesel engine. However, it’s on the pricey side and some entry-level models aren’t very well equipped. What’s more, it’s not especially fun to drive.
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The car that kickstarted today’s SUV love affair is still about the best in the class. It has a thoughtfully designed cabin, good ride and handling, and efficient engines. Top-spec versions are expensive, though, and the auto is a noisy CVT.
A seven-year warranty, some keen prices, a spacious cabin, and well equipped; there’s not much wrong with the Sportage. Look closer, though, and it’s not much fun to drive, running costs are average and the diesel engine is unrefined.
With its keen handling, good grip and minimal body roll in corners, the CX-5 is good to drive. It’s stylish and well-equipped, too, but it’s not as roomy or practical as newer rivals such as the Renault Kadjar.
Best review: Whatcar – Score 2/5
Previous Toyota RAV4 models:
Toyota RAV4 (2006-13): The previous-generation RAV4 prepared the ground for today’s rather bland offering, being roomy and practical but not much fun. Expensive, too, but well built and reliable, which is why it’s a sought-after used car today.