Toyota RAV4 (2013-2018) review
The Toyota RAV4 has grown up considerably in its latest generation, but it lacks character and is a dull drive
The Toyota RAV4 doesn't have the showroom appeal or good looks as newer models such as the SEAT Ateca and Renault Kadjar, but it does have space and practicality on its side. It's also well-made and should prove reliable, so it's perfect for family buyers who aren't interested in glamorous styling or fancy tech.
However, that's no excuse for it being so dull and characterless to drive and sit in. Both the ride and handling are behind rivals rivals such as the Mazda CX-5 and Renault Kadjar, and those models don't compromise too much on practicality or economy, either., plus have more modern interiors.
The RAV4 does have a hybrid version which makes it stand out, which will appeal to town dwellers or company car buyers - but it's even worse to drive than the standard car.
The Toyota RAV4 is a trendsetting SUV model that comfortably predates the Nissan Qashqai, yet somehow doesn’t seem to attract as much of the credit for helping to create the now massively popular crossover ‘niche’.
Nowadays only historians and used bargain hunters remember the old RAV4 for sale back in 1994, but a whole raft of modern day rivals including the Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V, Renault Kadjar, Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan all owe a lot to the RAV4’s success.
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The modern Toyota RAV4 Hybrid illustrates just how far the model has moved on from its predecessors of course, but the basic concept remains the same – offroad style, some basic green-lane ability, combined with economy and running costs that aren’t too far removed from an ‘ordinary’ family hatch.
Toyota has revamped the RAV4 range for 2018, with more hybrid models reflecting the fact that the petrol-electric versions account for two-thirds of overall sales in the UK.
This coincides with a new trim level structure, which brings the RAV4 into line with the rest of the Toyota range. The excellent Safety Sense active safety and driver-assistance pack is now fitted as standard on all grades.
The new entry-level Icon features a 7-inch touchscreen system, six speakers, Bluetooth, DAB radio, reversing camera, smart entry, push-button start, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, automatic lights powered tailgate and rain-sensing wipers.
Next up is the Icon Tech, which adds improved navigation and connectivity functions, while Design models ride in 18-inch alloy wheels and feature LED headlights, black leather and Alcantara upholstery and power-sliding seats.
The flagship Excel adds gloss black 18-inch alloy wheels, a choice of leather trim, memory function for the driver's seat, an upgraded multimedia system, blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.
There's a choice of two- or all-wheel drive, while the engine line-up comprises a 2.0-litre petrol, 2.0-litre diesel and 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid. There are two transmissions: a six-speed manual gearbox and a CVT, the latter of which is available exclusively with the 2.0-litre petrol and all-wheel drive.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Toyota RAV4 has grown up considerably in its latest generation, but it lacks character and is a dull drive
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Toyota RAV4 can't match its rivals for ride, handling or performance
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsLow CO2 emissions mean the RAV4 is a solid company car choice, but economy is average
- 4Interior, design and technologyRecent update has improved things, but the modern RAV4 doesn't stand out
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Toyota RAV4's best point is its practicality - there's loads of room inside
- 6Reliability and SafetyTop safety score and long warranty are promising