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What Car? says

5 out of 5 stars

For Good on-road ride, decent specification and strong diesel engines make the Toyota RAV4 a great all-round SUV.

Against Side-hinged back door can hinder practicality, while petrol versions are noisy and expensive to run.

Verdict The RAV4 is no match for prestige models, such as the Land Rover Freelander, but it's a real 4x4 that's good to drive and reasonably practical.

Go for… 2.2 D-4D T140 XT-R

Avoid… 2.0 VVT-I XT-5

Toyota RAV4 Crossover
  • 1. The RAV4 is refined, with little wind- or road noise intrudin. It's still a real off roader, though, with four-wheel drive, and a lockable centre differential.
  • 2. Average fuel economy for the diesels is 42.8mpg for the lower-powered version, and 40.4mpg for the more potent unit - compared with the petrol's average of 32.8mpg.
  • 3. The diesels are also cheaper for road tax thanks to CO2 emissions of 173g/km and 185g/k. The petrol engine pumps out 202g/km.
  • 4. Servicing costs aren't particularly low, but franchised dealers are held in high regard by owners and traditionally do well in the JD Power customer satisfaction survey.
  • 5. The run-flat tyres can slowly deflate over time despite no obvious puncture or fault. Replacing the tyre is often the only answer, and it's not cheap, either.
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Toyota RAV4 Crossover full review with expert trade views

Although the RAV4 from 2006 looks like the previous model, it's actually a new car that's both longer and wider than before. It's also a five-door only – unlike the previous model, which was a three- or five-door.

However, the car-like handling of the earlier model remains, giving the RAV excellent road holding and body control. The ride is comfortable and free from wallow.

The RAV4 is refined, with little wind- or road noise intruding into the cabin. It's still a real off roader, though, with four-wheel drive, a lockable centre differential, to aid traction, and reasonable ground clearance. It won't go as far off-road as a Land Rover Freelander – but it'll handle mild rough stuff.

Toyota has given the RAV4 a cabin that's both attractive and durable, and there's a decent amount of equipment included, too. Entry-level models come with seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag. It's also got a four star adult Euro NCAP crash-test rating and ISOFIX child-seat fixings, while remote central locking and an alarm are also fitted to all models.

Trade view

Later models have improved specifications, and were priced lower to start with, so stretch your budget to these and your money will go further.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The 150bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine feels a bit gutless, and can get noisy when pushed hard. It's also your only option if you're looking for an automatic. The six-speed manual 'box that comes as standard is slick and enjoyable to use. There are two 2.2-litre diesel engines – producing 134bhp and 175bhp - both of which are smooth and refined.

The entry-level XT-3 gets alloys wheels, air-con, all-round electric windows and a CD player. The XT-4 adds climate control, leather upholstery and an electric sunroof. Splash out on an XT-5 and you'll enjoy sat-nav, cruise control and electrically adjustable seats.

The sporty T180 uses the more powerful diesel engine, lower-profile run-flat tyres and a sports bodykit. It's surprisingly fast and nimble, too. Because there's no spare wheel strapped to the side-hinged tailgate, it can open wider, giving better access to the boot.

Toyota replaced the T180 in 2008 with the almost identical, but cheaper, SR180. The lower trim levels were then deleted, so that only the XT-R and SR180 remained. The XT-R edition is our pick of the bunch for overall value.

Trade view

The rapid T180s and SR180s are great fun, but can suffer steep depreciation, so haggle to buy at the lowest price possible.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Average fuel economy for the diesels is 42.8mpg for the lower-powered version, and 40.4mpg for the more potent unit - compared with the petrol's average of 32.8mpg.

The diesels are also cheaper for road tax thanks to CO2 emissions of 173g/km and 185g/k. The petrol engine pumps out 202g/km.

Servicing costs aren't particularly low, but franchised dealers are held in high regard by owners and traditionally do well in the JD Power customer satisfaction survey. You should also find that dealerships in rural areas are cheaper, than town-based garages.

Insurance costs are respectable for this class of car, with most models graded group 11 or 12, with only the hot T180 and SR180 in group 13.

Trade view

Later models have improved specifications, and were priced lower to start with, so stretch your budget to these and your money will go further.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Toyota has a great reputation for reliability and the RAV4 is no exception, but they're not completely bulletproof.

The paint is a little soft, leaving the nose and bonnet especially susceptible to attack from stone chips. Look out for poorly touched-up repairs.

The clutch and flywheel can need to be replaced on higher-mileage cars, with repair costs running to four figures. Listen for unusual noises or check for difficulty in selecting a gear. The six-speed manual gearbox on the diesel is naturally notchy; so take that into account.

The run-flat tyres can slowly deflate over time despite no obvious puncture or fault. Replacing the tyre is often the only answer, and it's not cheap, either. As with any SUV, you should thoroughly inspect the car's underside for any off-road-related injuries.

Trade view

The rapid T180s and SR180s are great fun, but can suffer steep depreciation, so haggle to buy at the lowest price possible.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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