The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.0
The Toyota RAV4 started the four-wheel drive ’soft-roader’ phenomenon. It still delivers impressive fuel economy and decent packaging but it's starting to feel dated amongst the latest generation of crossover rivals.
Reasons to buy
- Best efficiency in class
- Great reliability and build quality
- Genuine off-road ability and a great towing car
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
In 2010 the Toyota RAV4 was restyled and re-equipped, bringing it in line with the latest generation Toyota Avensis and Verso. The main changes included a re-designed front-end and a wider grille with chrome accents for a stronger ‘family face’. On the outside the chrome accents and sleek lines help conjure a more premium image, while the side opening boot door hints to its practical element. The RAV4 is also 175mm longer and 80mm wider than the previous generation version, giving an extra 85mm cabin space and an extra 55mm leg room for rear passengers.
What's the interior like?
As with the exterior, everything has a chunky, simple feel, from the easy-to-read instrument display to the stripped down central console. Toyota has worked to raise the interior quality and has mostly succeeded, but some of the plastics look cheap. The simple layout does look a bit dated, especially compared to sleeker new rivals. The raised driving position is comfortable and provides great all-round visibility
How practical is it?
Everything about the Toyota RAV4 is designed to be practical. From the side-hinged rear boot door – which is heavy and needs a lot of room to open it fully, but allows for great access – to the masses of cubbyholes scattered around the cabin. There are two under-floor compartments too. The sliding rear seats allow you to increase rear legroom or bootspace as needed and Toyota’s Easy Flat system allows the rear seats to be folded flat into the floor, without the need to remove headrests. The boot measures 586 litres and with the seats forward, this increases to 1,469 litres.
What's it like to drive?
When the current generation Toyota RAV4 was introduced in 2006 it revolutionised the way we see 4×4s. It proved a car could be both a practical and capable all-rounder while still offering the fun, drivability of a much smaller car. But, since then, most manufacturers have introduced their own versions, and this is where the RAV4 fells old. It doesn’t handle as well as rival crossovers like the Volkswagen Tiguan or Ford Kuga and the steering isn’t as responsive either – there’s also a bit of body roll in bends. Wind and road noise is good, but the diesel we drove was a bit noisy.
How powerful is it?
There are two diesel and one petrol engine to choose from. In 2010, a new entry-level model was introduced in the form of a 148bhp 2.2-litre D-4D diesel XT-R, with two-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox. It can go from 0-62mph in 10 seconds and on to a top speed of 118mph. Although it was a little loud during our week-long loan, the engine did prove responsive and fairly refined. The second diesel option is a 2.2-litre D-CAT. Petrol buyers are offered a 156bhp 2-litre Valvematic, with a CVT transmission.
How much will it cost me?
All engines benefit from Toyota Optimal Drive technologies to deliver a balance of power, fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions. This means the 2.2-litre D-4D AWD model develops 148bhp, while returning 48.7mpg, emitting 154 g/km and qualifying for car tax (VED) Band G. This makes the RAV4 the first in its class to achieve a sub-160g/km CO2 emissions, giving Toyota a class-leading position compared to rivals the 2-litre Ford Kuga and 2-litre Volkswagen Tiguan’s 138bhp, 44.1mpg, 169 g/km (167 for the Tiguan) and car tax band H; and the 2-litre Honda CR-V’s 148bhp, 43.5mpg, 171 g/km and VED band I.
How reliable is it?
Toyota has a reputation for producing well-built, reliable cars and the RAV is no exception – scoring incredibly well on our reliability index. Historically the axle and suspension throw up most problems, while more recently there have been reports of accelerator pedals becoming hard to depress, slow to return and in rare cases getting stuck half-way through their working travel. The Toyota RAV4 was included in a major safety recall in 2010 but this issue affected a very small proportion of models sold in the UK. If anything were to happen, you can always rely on the five-year, 100,000 miles warranty.
How safe is it?
The Toyota RAV-4 was awarded a four star Euro NCAP crash test rating when it was tested in 2006. Things have been improved since then, with a new chassis designed to minimise deformation for passengers and the bonnet is maximised to absorb and crumple, minimising risk to pedestrians. On the inside, there are nine airbags as standard – including driver and passenger airbags, as well as side, curtain and a driver’s knee airbag. It also comes with active headrests, anti-locking brake system (ABS), seatbelt warning lights and Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) design seats in the event of rear impact.
How much equipment do I get?
There are just two trim levels: XT-R and SR. Entry-level models come well equipped with standard equipment including 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, front and rear fog lights, a cooled glovebox, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, rear privacy glass, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic headlights and wipers, as well as a six CD autochanger hidden in the dashboard. Top of the range models add Toyota’s hard disc drive (HDD) satellite navigation system, a reversing camera, keyless entry, darkened headlights, heated seats, leather upholstery and 18-inch dark-finish alloys.
The Toyota RAV4 started the four-wheel drive ’soft-roader’ phenomenon. The latest version is good looking, practical and a capable great off-roader; it also offers the sort of fuel economy you can expect from some superminis.