Toyota RAV4 T180
List price when new 27,395
Used price 22,900
Run by Matt Sanger
Tested for 8 months/9650 miles
Bob the builder, eat you heart out. My latest DIY project involved some serious landscape gardening, so it was lucky for me that the RAV4 has a strong work ethic.
When it came to carting supplies about be it bricks, bags of sand and cement, paving, hire equipment, or taking rubbish to the tip the Toyota did it without breaking a sweat. It was great to have the cars four-wheel drive when reversing down a muddy slope to drag out felled trees, too.
So, whats the secret of the cars success as a builders mate? Well, the T180-spec RAV4, along with the XT-R, comes with run-flat tyres, so you dont need a spare wheel bolted to the tailgate, and because theres no spare wheel to stick out past the side of the car, the side-hinged tailgate can open fully, unlike on lesser RAV4s.
Access to the boot is easy and, if you fold down the seats, theres 1469 litres of load space. The guys at the hire centre were impressed when we got a full-size cement mixer inside with room to spare. A pick-up may have been more practical, but the RAV4 coped perfectly well.
After its life of grime, the RAV4 was looking a little dusty inside and out, so a full valet was in order. The dark charcoal carpets and black leather interior are durable, and still looked as good as new after a decent wash. Unfortunately, the blue paintwork isnt quite as solid. The cars nose had already picked up a couple of large stone chips but, once clean, I was able to see a number of small scratches along the front wings and doors. They dont look too serious, though, and should polish out.
Ive also been conducting a green-driving experiment by driving slower, changing up the gears earlier and better anticipating whats ahead, and Ive managed to get my average economy up to 37.3mpg. This is only 3.1mpg short of the official figure, and I still reckon theres more to come, but Im not sure its worth the effort.
I could drive even slower and save a bit more fuel, but Id increase my journey time without boosting economy that much. Anyway, Im not complaining about fuel consumption because my last car, a little Suzuki Swift 1.6 Sport, averaged only 34.2mpg.
Nonetheless, with the cost of filling the RAV4 with diesel now over 60, it makes sense to be as light as possible on the go-pedal.