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Used car tests

Used Toyota RAV4 (Mk5, 2019-date): a slick, reliable and cheap to run SUV

A full used buyer's guide on the Toyota RAV4 covering the RAV4 Mk5 that's been on sale since 2019

Verdict

As you’d expect, the Toyota RAV4 is very slick now that it’s in its fifth generation, and it needs to be, because the mid-size SUV segment isn’t short of tempting contenders. However, it’s taken a lot of car makers far too long to introduce hybrid and plug-in hybrid SUVs of their own, and arguably none can match the RAV4’s reliability, while it’s also better to drive than many of the electrified models in this segment. We ran a RAV4 PHEV and loved pretty much everything about it, including its generous electric-only range, which allowed us to slash our fuel bills. When you add excellent practicality, smart looks and generous equipment levels to the mix, it’s easy to see why the RAV4 is so compelling.

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Toyota is often credited with creating the leisure-focused compact SUV, with the original RAV4 of 1994. Suzuki might argue, because its Vitara was launched six years earlier, but the RAV4 brought car-like construction methods and road manners to the affordable-SUV segment, while the Vitara had an ‘old-school’ chassis. 

That first RAV4 was a big success in the UK as well as around the world; by 2020 Toyota had sold 20 million examples globally, including 220,000 in the UK. 

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It was initially sold only as a three-door model with a petrol engine, but five-door cars, diesels and a hybrid came later. By the time the latest model (as covered here) was launched, it had a hybrid powertrain, with a plug-in hybrid added later.

History

The RAV4 Mk5 reached UK showrooms in April 2019, in front-wheel-drive form only. Within a month there were all-wheel-drive cars available though. All were fitted with a 2.5-litre petrol engine and self-charging hybrid tech; front-drive models had 215bhp whereas all-wheel-drive editions got 219bhp. Altogether more powerful though, was the 302bhp RAV4 plug-in hybrid which arrived in spring 2021. It was also capable of 46 miles on a charge, and could do up to 84mph in electric mode. 

An upgraded RAV4 was supplied from August 2022. This brought with it an improved infotainment system with a 10.5-inch display, customisable digital instruments, and extra driver-assistance systems for Toyota’s Safety Sense package. These were Pre-Collision System, and Emergency Steering Assist.

Which one should I buy?

Directly compare a RAV4 PHEV with its all-wheel-drive hybrid counterpart, and you’ll see that you’re not necessarily paying a huge premium for the former, even though it’s a significantly better car. However, for much less money you can buy a slightly older low-mileage hybrid, and this is the most cost-effective solution. 

Whatever you buy it’ll be well equipped; even the entry-level Icon has 17-inch alloys, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors and an eight-inch touchscreen. The Design adds front parking sensors and a powered tailgate; the Excel brings 19-inch wheels, leather trim and a heated steering wheel, while the Dynamic has heated front seats and a sportier look inside and out.

Alternatives to the Toyota RAV4

With no seven-seat option, the RAV4 faces an array of five-seat SUVs, including the Peugeot 3008 and its cousins, the Citroen C5 Aircross and Vauxhall Grandland, which are all roomy and comfortable. The Kia Sportage shares a platform with the Hyundai Tucson; both have smart well stocked interiors and bold looks. 

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The SEAT Ateca, Skoda Karoq and Volkswagen Tiguan all share a platform, too. Each has a user-friendly interior and impressive engines. The Renault Kadjar is related to the previous-generation Nissan Qashqai and both are worth a look, just like the Ford Kuga. You could also consider MG’s HS, which offers great value and the peace of mind of a long warranty.

What to look for

Going spare

The hybrid Icon and Design came with a space-saver alloy spare wheel; all other models have a tyre repair kit.

On the pull

The front-wheel-drive RAV4 can pull just 800kg; the all-wheel-drive car is rated at 1,650kg. The plug-in hybrid can tow 1,500kg.

Hi-fi upgrades

Some early cars didn’t get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, but it’s worth adding. Dealers don’t charge much to install it.

Question of sport

A new range-topping model was recently added to the range. The GR Sport has an athletic design inside and out, and sports seats.

Interior

The RAV4’s dashboard looks more functional than you’ll find in many rivals, with chunky switchgear. But it works nicely and is very well put together.

Less impressive is the dated infotainment, although most cars have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity , which removes the dated graphics. The lack of a third-row option means there’s ample room for five adults, and boot space is very good at 580 litres with the back seats in use, or 1,690 litres with them folded down. Plug-in hybrids cut this by 60 litres though, because of the bigger battery pack below the floor.

Prices

Plug-in hybrids account for about one in six RAV4s, and of the hybrids, more than half have four-wheel drive. Design, Dynamic and Excel each account for almost a third of the RAV4s on the market, so there aren’t many Icon, Adventure or Black Editions to go round. You’ll need surprisingly deep pockets to buy a plug-in hybrid.

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To check prices on a specific model head over to our valuation tool.

Running costs

Whether you’re buying a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid version of the RAV4, its maintenance regime is the same: a visit to your local Toyota dealer is required every 12 months or 10,000 miles. Services alternate between minor and major, which are priced at £240 and £370 respectively. 

Fresh brake fluid is also needed every two years, at a cost of £80. Meanwhile, the coolant should be replaced after 10 years or 100,000 miles, and then every five years or 50,000 miles after that; you can expect to pay about £65 for this.

The four-cylinder petrol engine is chain-driven so there’s no cambelt to replace. While the original Toyota warranty lasts for three years or 60,000 miles, if you have your RAV4 serviced by an official dealer, this is topped up by an extra year or 10,000 miles up to 10 years or 100,000 miles.

Recalls

There have been five recalls. The first came in May 2019 and affected RAV4s made up to April that year, which left the factory with faulty eCall software. Six months later came recall two, because of brake servo problems on cars made between April and June 2019.

A third recall was issued in August 2020, this time because 791 RAV4s made in September and October 2019 were at risk of having cracked suspension arms. The fourth recall affected only plug-in hybrid RAV4s made up to June 2021; these had software which could shut down the hybrid system in cold temperatures.

 The most recent campaign was launched in October 2023, and affected 27,327 Toyotas built between July 2021 and July 2023, which once again had faulty software that could affect the eCall function.

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The RAV4 Mk5 made its New Car Survey debut in 2020, in 12th, moved up to 11th in 2021, then disappeared in 2022, before re-emerging in 2023 in 30th. A big jump in 2024 saw it move up to fourth overall, suggesting owners really do love the experience of driving a RAV4. It excelled across the board, with only the infotainment, connectivity and electrics coming in for any form of criticism.

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