The feedback from the CarAdvice team has been largely positive, but in the same breath, since going back to Toyota HQ, no one has really missed the little guy, positioning the RAV4 closer to the ‘appliance’ end of the feels scale.
That’s not to say there is anything wrong with the little SUV, but in somewhat typical Toyota fashion, the RAV failed to form a strong personal bond with any of the crew. Maybe those Stormtroopers aren’t as lovable as we thought.
It’s fair to say too, that in typical Toyota fashion, the RAV4 didn’t have a single issue during its time in the garage. It wasn’t perfect in terms of ergonomics or performance, but it went about its job, day after day, without complaint or fault.
And for plenty of buyers, that is what is important.
Despite some initial issues with our ToyotaLink account, all the technology worked well in the RAV, some fiddly user-experience issues notwithstanding. The inclusion of DAB radio and satellite navigation in the GXL grade is a welcome addition and reinforces this car as being the sweet spot of the three trim levels on offer.
It’s a handsome car, the modern and angular lines giving the now four-year-old XA40 platform a strong and up-to-date look. Plus, as a medium SUV, the RAV4 has a fair bit going for it in the practicality stakes.
We loved the amount of room inside. From the good storage and vision up front to the almost cavernous rear seats and flexible boot. It is a very usable car, we had all manner of gear and equipment in the back, as well as people of all shapes and sizes, and there was never a complaint about room or comfort.
The cargo hammock too is a really useful addition to the 577-litre boot. It’s perfect for keeping shopping bags under control, especially those containing fruit and vegetables that are prone to rolling around.
What we didn’t find as appealing about the interior was the colour. The black headliner, which in isolation is quite smart, and black cloth seats, make the cabin feel very dark. I imagine just changing to lighter seats would do wonders to the appeal of the RAV4 interior, and make what is already roomy feel even more spacious.
That headliner is part of the $1000 Flex Tone pack, which also encompasses the silver trim on the outside of the car. Again, in isolation, this looks nice, but in no way is it worth the cost. We’d give it a miss.
What we would recommend though, is the $2500 Tech Pack, as it adds a host of driver assistance functions like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert, which are handy in their own right, but will help maintain the value of the RAV as a used car when you come to sell it down the line. If you are wanting to do a bit of touring in your RAV, seriously consider this option.
Speaking of touring, though, the other key area where we felt the Toyota didn’t perform as well as we would have liked, was in fuel consumption.
Even long drives rarely saw consumption dip into single digits, giving the car a somewhat compromised range. The 132kW/233Nm 2.5-litre petrol claims to see a combined consumption of 8.5L/100km, with that dropping to just 6.8L/100km for sustained highway driving. Ironically, the 11.4L/100km claim of pure urban driving was higher than what we regularly saw around town, our overall average for the five months 10.9L/100km.
Hills seemed to encourage the RAV’s thirst, with the car able to settle around the 7L/100km mark on a flat-ish run, climbing into the teens as the 2.5-litre revved out when maintaining headway up an incline.
We experimented with our roof racks too, finding a solid 10 per cent increase in consumption with a bike mounted to the carriers, against just a 1.5 per cent rise of having the racks fitted but empty, against no racks at all. The noise increased too, the bike on the roof registering 69dB inside the cabin at 100km/h to 67dB without.
If longer trips are a key part of your lifestyle, we’d suggest the 110kW/340Nm 2.2-litre turbo diesel RAV4 GXL as a better option, although push hard in the showroom as the $5000 price premium is quite hefty.
Keep those trips to softer trails, though, as we discovered the RAV4 was quickly pushed out of its comfort zone once the going became a little bit rough. The low hanging exhaust front pipe (which Mandy refers to as ‘the lolly bag’) was at risk of damage even when traversing mild wheel ruts, the car’s centre differential lock and all-wheel drive ability more suited to unsealed roads rather than rocky tracks.
The RAV4 continues to sell well, seeing an almost six per cent increase year-on-year in terms of volume, although it has been overtaken by the Nissan X-Trail to sit in fourth place behind theMazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tucson in the medium SUV category.