As the 10 millionth RAV4 is produced, Steve drives the new Toyota Rav4 to see if it merits the £30k plus entry level price tag.
When I think of Toyota four wheel drives I imagine a battered, primitive, yet reliable Hilux often found working hard on farms, building sites or in developing counties as I experienced when I was in Malawi. In this small African country Toyotas were everywhere thanks to their basic engineering, however climbing into the new Rav4 is a totally different story...
Compared to the previous model Rav4 and other Toyota models this new Rav4 certainly stands out from the crowd thanks to its angular bodywork and Tonka toy appearance which makes it look like it can go anywhere. The New Rav4 is built on Toyota's New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform, which means the New Rave4 is not only stiffer than the previous model it is benefits from a lower centre of gravity which adds to the overall safety of the vehicle. Ground clearance has increased by 15mm over the previous model which helps with the Rav4 looks.
Just like the tough exterior, the interior too feels well put together with good quality materials used throughout helping the car feel its living up to Toyota's rugged dependability. The controls have rubber finish giving them a nice feel, and are easily laid out despite the Rav4 StarTrek dash feel. This is no criticism, the dials are both futuristic in appearance yet clear to read helping you to focus on the road ahead. Space age themes don't stop there either, as the gear selector seems to be modeled on a Power Rangers helmet. As this new Rav4 is built on Toyota's new platform it has allowed the cabin to feel very light and airy thanks to a large glass area, thus meaning visibility is very good. Only the C pillars can be an obstruction when reversing but naturally the Rav4 has a reverse camera and parking sensors (excluding entry level Icon trim). As you'd expect this Rav4 is stuffed full of gadgets on this model such as satnav, Bluetooth, digital radio, heated/cooling seats, climate air conditioning, electric windows all round and power folding electric mirrors. The satnav, reverse camera and radio are viewed through a 8" touch screen infotainment system which is easy to use. The boxy design has helped with the leg/head room space with plenty of adjustment on the electric front seats. The reclining rear bench seat is nicely positioned as well as the cabin befitting of lots of neat storage arrangements and the largest boot in its class makes the Rav4 perfect for family transport. The only thing missing from the boot area is rear seat release handle which means you have to go round to the passenger area to lower the seats.
On the road
Engaging drive on the CVT gearbox the Rav4 pulls away in electric mode which is silent and effortless, when the 2.5 petrol engine kicks in it to is very quiet and is supported by low window and road noise, making driving a pleasure. The car is no slouch either and in four wheel drive can go from 0-60 in 8.1 seconds which is mighty impressive for a car of this size. Drivers also have the option to choose different driving modes dependent on conditions which is a nice touch, but almost not needed as in normal mode the car manages just fine. If Toyota's CO2 figures can be believed this Rav4 hybrid is kinder to the planet than the current 1.0 litre Ford Fiesta which astonishing for the size of the car. The steering on Rav4 is both light and positive making it easy to control and supported by brakes which have a good feel. Surprisingly for an SUV the suspension is quite firm making lumps and bumps more noticeable, but no intolerable.
At the time of this road test the Rav4 had not been put through a Euro Ncap crash test, but I have no doubt that it will achive 5 starts much like the rest of the Toyota range and previous Rav4. As an option there is a Safety sense package which includes lane departure warning, road sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking.
Despite the Rav4 starting at over £30k I will admit you do get a lot more metal for your money compared to the Nissan Qashqai and a superb powertrain. I do feel this new Rav4 is paving the way for the next generation SUVs as the sector moves away from diesel power. I felt the Rav4 felt very sturdy and would last well over time and the controls are nicely arranged. if you are considering a large SUV then this should certainly be one you consider.