Toyota’s RAV4 pioneered the idea of an SUV that wasn’t necessarily all about rugged adventure, but instead fitted into everyday life with a welcome extra dose of all-wheel drive security in poor conditions. That’s still as true as ever for the fifth generation RAV4, but it also takes a giant stride in cabin ambience, handling, practicality and efficiency.
All models have the Toyota Safety Sense system, which includes pre-collision with night-time pedestrian and cyclist detection as well as adaptive cruise control. Seven airbags also come as standard across the range. Blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert are part of the Excel and Dynamic model specifications.
Toyota has taken a dramatic step away from anonymous, appliance-like design towards something with more character and drama. The angular wheel arches might take a bit of getting used to, but it’s undeniably distinctive all the way from the LED headlights to the sculpted flanks. The latest RAV4 is based on Toyota’s new Global Architecture which is 57% stiffer than the preceding model. Inside, slimmer A-pillars and larger side windows create an airy and inviting ambience with soft-feel trim and some nice-looking new upholstery fabrics (leather in Excel and Dynamic). Overall, it feels upmarket and sophisticated.
The RAV4 features an 8" touch screen, Toyota sound system and panoramic view monitor, putting information and entertainment at your fingertips. The entry-level Icon offers the Toyota Touch® 2 media system with 6 speakers, DAB & Bluetooth; move up to Design level and above and you’ll also get Toyota Touch® 2 Go Navigation. Other features like Smart Entry, heated steering wheel and auto-folding door mirrors come in the higher up the trim ladder you climb.
The RAV4 features a 2.5-litre petrol engine with a hybrid electric motor providing all-wheel drive via a motor/generator on the rear axle that can direct up to 80% of the torque to the rear wheels. Toyota claim the new driveline provides much stronger performance in challenging conditions and secure handling on slippery surfaces. Combined power output is 219bhp and the claimed NEDC combined economy is 64.2mpg, while transmission is the stepless CVT gearbox.
Verdict: Toyota is determined to prove that mid-market doesn’t mean mediocre, and there’s a lot of premium feel to the latest RAV4. Exterior style is polarising, but everyone will love the space and feel of the interior. Drivers, too, will enjoy this fifth generation RAV4 more than any predecessor, thanks to a lower centre of gravity, double-wishbone rear suspension, improved steering feel and optimised weight distribution. Hybrid power feels refined, delivers good economy and low CO2 emissions.