Toyota’s Sports Utility Vehicle focuses on utility over sport
The car that arguably kick-started the demand for compact SUVs retains its usual Toyota attributes of build quality, reliability and practicality, but loses some of its driver appeal in its latest guise.
What is it?
Virtually unrecognisable from the original RAV4, that car showing Toyota’s rarely-seen fun side, defining the compact SUV segment in the process. The RAV4 has grown up a bit and let the crossovers take over where it used to dominate. The boot is vast still, which covers the 'U' of its Sports Utility Vehicle designation, while the rear cabin’s big, too. Despite the off-road looks few venture into anything more challenging than a roadside puddle. Compares favourably with the Ford Kuga.
What is it like?
You’re unlikely to drive it for the sake of it, but then the RAV4 is not a chore to drive either. The steering is sharp, the chassis dynamic enough measured against its rivals. The interior looks and feels a bit hard and plastic, but it also feels like it’ll shrug off the sort of cataclysmic abuse that only families inflict on car cabins. Running costs won’t break the bank, particularly if, as most do, you opt for the front- rather than four-wheel drive models which start at around €28,000.
Carzone verdict: 3.5/5
You’ll not love it, but it’s impossible not to admire the RAV4, as it’s a useful tool. The Ford Kuga is a more entertaining drive, but it lacks the Toyota’s practicality. Kia’s Sportage does much the same as the RAV4, only with a more attractive warranty offering, but again the Kia’s unable to match the RAV4’s capaciousness. So it’s gotten bigger and a bit less fun; sounds familiar, but it shouldn’t be written off because of that. Especially as there's a comprehensively updated model coming in 2016.