Coming soon: 2019 Toyota RAV4 and BMW X7
Don't buy a new car until you've read this – our ultimate guide to the new models coming in 2019 and beyond...
Large and luxury SUVs
On sale April
What's the best-selling SUV in the world? Believe it or not, that title has, for the past few years, been fought for between the Nissan X-Trail and Toyota RAV4. To British sensibilities, however, these cars are well down the order in the large SUV class.
But that could well change with the arrival of this striking fifth-generation RAV4 – and not just because it looks like something out of Star Wars. “Steering and chassis feel are now very important to us,” says chief engineer Yoshikazu Saeki, “and that is a philosophical shift from the previous car.”
This focus, borne out through redesigned steering, more complex suspension and better weight distribution, adds to the improvements claimed as inherent to Toyota’s latest platform, which creates a lower centre of gravity to sharpen handling and increases rigidity to yield a flatter and more comfortable ride.
“But my biggest issue,” Saeki continues, “was to bring it back to being an SUV everyone can rely on, wherever they live, whatever the conditions they find.”
To this end, Toyota has upgraded the RAV4’s four-wheel drive system and introduced a new Trail mode that uses a limited-slip control system to regain traction over uneven terrain.
Toyota says it won’t ever launch another diesel-powered car in the UK, so the new RAV4 will be sold exclusively as a hybrid, with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor. Together, these make 219bhp and can get you from 0-62mph in 8.1sec. Official average fuel economy is 62.8mpg, with CO2 emissions of 102g/km (on the old NEDC cycle). If you choose front-wheel drive, power drops to 215bhp but efficiency improves slightly.
In a car like this, practicality is a top priority. As such, the outer rear passengers now sit 40mm farther apart and get larger footwells, while their doors open wider than before. The RAV4’s already decent boot has grown, too – although the Skoda Kodiaq’s is more spacious still.
Standout technology includes Toyota’s full suite of active safety aids, a wide-angle camera-fed digital rear-view mirror and a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav and smartphone mirroring.
On sale April
It seems BMW is getting into numerology: its seventh SUV model is a seven-seater called the X7 that will cost from £72,115.
The aggressive-looking new luxury SUV is intended to combine the opulence of the 7 Series limousine with the versatility and off-road capability of the X5 SUV, and thus will rival the Range Rover and upcoming Mercedes GLS.
At 5.1 metres long, the X7 is exceptionally roomy inside, to the extent that six adults can apparently travel in comfort, aided by fully electrically adjustable leather seats, a glass roof and four-zone climate control.
In the middle row, you’ll find 90mm more leg room and 30mm more head room than in the X5, and, for true indulgence, you can order a pair of captain’s chairs in place of the standard sliding three-seat bench. There are also two individual seats behind and a 326-litre boot, expanding to 740 litres with the third row folded down.
The plush dashboard houses a pair of 12.3in digital displays: one for instruments and the other for BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, which can be controlled by touch, gesture, buttons on the steering wheel or a rotary dial.
You can choose from three engines: a 335bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo petrol (in the xDrive40i), a 261bhp six-cylinder diesel (xDrive30d) and a 394bhp six-cylinder quad-turbo diesel (M50d).
All hook up to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, while the M50d also gets an electronic differential to boost its cornering ability. And it’s potentially good news regarding ride comfort, because all X7s sit on air suspension and adaptive dampers, while the wheels on offer range from 20in to 22in.