Toyota RAV4 Crossover full 9 point review
Toyota offers a 2.0-litre petrol engine, but most buyers will go for one of the two diesels. There’s a 122bhp 2.0-litre that comes with front-wheel drive and picks up eagerly enough from low revs. Unfortunately, this engine quickly runs out of puff. If anything, the 148bhp 2.2 that’s in four-wheel-drive diesel models is even worse; it’s flatter than the 2.0 low down and just as reluctant to rev, so it forces you to chop up and down the gears more often.
Ride & Handling
The RAV4 isn’t as agile as a Mazda CX-5. However, it grips well, steers with decent precision, and becomes really untidy only when you make a couple of sharp direction changes in quick succession. True, the ride feels quite busy around town, but it improves with speed – to the point where the RAV4 feels settled and totally secure.
Both diesel engines transmit vibration into the cabin and sound gruff if you push them beyond 3000rpm, although the 2.2 is particularly noisy. The RAV4 also subjects you to quite a bit of wind and road noise. At least the gearshift is slick and the clutch is reasonably light.
Buying & Owning
The cheapest diesel model is temptingly priced. However, the version you’ll actually want costs thousands more than a similarly equipped Mazda CX-5. Depreciation will also be quite heavy, but Toyota offers good finance deals, and our True MPG tests show that real-world fuel economy is competitive.
Quality & Reliability
The RAV4’s interior is pretty underwhelming. Despite most models getting man-made leather on parts of the dashboard, drab plastics dominate, and the clock could have been lifted from a 1980s Corolla. More positively, Toyota finished fifth in our latest reliability survey, and you get the reassurance of a five-year warranty.
Safety & Security
Every model comes with stability control and seven airbags, including one beneath the steering column that protects the driver’s knees. However, in Euro NCAP tests, the RAV4 didn’t perform quite as well as the Mazda CX-5 for adult and child safety. Like most of its rivals, Toyota fits deadlocks and an alarm to help keep your valuables safe.
Behind The Wheel
Comfort is compromised unless you go for a top-spec car, because lesser models don’t get lumbar adjustment and their seats are short of lower-back support. The touch-screen infotainment system (standard on mid-spec Icon models and above) also leaves a little to be desired because its display is hard to read in bright conditions. The other readouts and controls are simple enough, though, and forward visibility is excellent, thanks to thin windscreen pillars.
Space & Practicality
The RAV4 is one of the biggest cars in its class, so there’s plenty of space inside. Four six-footers will be perfectly comfortable, and although the narrow central rear seat means life isn’t as good for a fifth, those in the back get even more legroom than they do in a Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5. Boot space is also impressive, and the rear seats fold pretty much flat.
Entry-level Active cars come with air-conditioning, alloy wheels and electric front and rear windows, but we reckon it’s worth upgrading to the mid-level Icon trim, which adds a reversing camera, DAB radio, cruise control, an electronically operated tailgate and dual-zone climate control. We wouldn’t bother with the range-topping Invincible trim.