Road Test: Toyota RAV4 2.0 D-4D Active 2WD
Sector: Crossover Price: £22,595 Fuel: 57.6mpg CO2: 127g/km
Cars are getting bigger across the board, but Toyota’s RAV4 has become so large these days that you could almost slot a two-wheel drive RAV2 crossover in underneath it. Something which, given the growth of the Juke-rival sector, is probably firmly on the manufacturer's radar.
Of course, in the 19 years since Toyota first introduced the RAV4 nameplate, it’s become a very different car. In its fourth generation, the RAV4 is a thoroughly grown-up family-sized SUV big enough to accommodate a pair of seats in the boot.
But some things are unchanged. The RAV4 was an early pioneer of the modern crossover formula and, despite its name relating to all-wheel drive, has been available with two-wheel drive since the first-generation model.
Here, 2WD is available across all trim levels but only with the smaller 122bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine, and CO2 emissions are a respectable 127g/km regardless of wheel size and options. Similarly, the larger 2.2-litre unit is only available with four-wheel drive.
Toyota is rolling its new “keen look” family face out across the entire range, and the RAV4 has adopted the styling in its latest guise. The end result bears a resemblance to the latest Auris, which isn’t a bad thing by any means, and has the muscular proportions to go with its size. Chunky wheel arches and bumper cladding both add to its on-road presence.
Despite the bulky body and what appears to be a lowly power output, the engine happily hustles the RAV4 along at motorway speeds, where the cabin is almost entirely free of wind and drivetrain noise. Ride quality is excellent, helped by the entry-level Active model’s smaller wheels, and the seats are just firm enough to be exceptionally comfortable on long trips.
Boot and rear passenger space is excellent too, though the mechanism for folding the rear bench flat isn’t quite as neat as the Honda CR-V’s and there are no additional handles inside the tailgate as found in the Auris Touring Sports. Considered as a more versatile, more rugged-looking alternative to the Avensis Tourer, potential customers wouldn’t be dissatisfied.
There are a few niggles inside, though. Build quality feels generally high, and the stitched leather-effect pad on the dashboard helps, but plastics around the instrument binnacle look a little cheap and the overall design isn’t quite as modern as some of its rivals – particularly the LCD clock in the centre stack, which looks like a left-over from a 1980s Corolla. But it’s clearly laid out and, as you’d expect from a Toyota, it’ll all work in 10, 20 and probably 30 years.
The crossover segment has become defined by the desirable urban-focused chic of the Nissan Qashqai in recent years, but the RAV4 has matured into a good-looking entry in this segment. Ruthlessly practical and effortless over long distances, it might not be the beach-combing youngsters' car its predecessors once were, but it’s grown up gracefully and gained broader appeal in the meantime.
The RAV4 wears its size and the new Toyota family face really well, packaging a spacious and comfortable interior and refined, long-legged drivetrain beneath. While sub-120g/km CO2 emissions would help its corporate appeal, drivers seeking a versatile, good-looking SUV will find plenty of reasons to add this to their options list.