What's the used Toyota RAV4 4x4 like?
Consistency is something many of us will be looking for given the constant uncertainties of our modern world, so it's nice to know that the two previous generations of Toyota RAV4 are amongst the most dependable used cars you can buy, according to our What Car? Reliability data. What's more, the refinements made to this latest RAV4 make it an even more compelling used option against its fellow large SUV rivals than its predecessors were.
What differentiates the RAV4 from most is that it is hybrid only with a single 2.5-litre petrol engine option - at least for the moment. A 302bhp plug-in version is due soon, but for pre-owned buyers, it's the regular hybrid you'll go for. It has 215bhp in front-wheel drive form or 219bhp with four-wheel drive. Each is paired with a CVT gearbox that works well at town speeds, but can send engine revs soaring when accelerating hard outside the city limits.
There are five different trim levels starting with Icon that has 17in alloys, LED headlights, auto emergency braking, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, plus an 8in infotainment system with a reversing camera. Mid-range Design unlocks sat-nav on that screen and adds front parking sensors, an electric tailgate, and bigger 18in wheels.
Excel has larger still 19in wheels plus heated front seats and steering wheel. But the important bits are the extra safety tech such as blindspot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Dynamic is a sportier version of this with more heavily bolstered front seats and a black roof. Finally, Black Edition would be Bruce Wayne's family car because it's only available in black with matching colour wheels and exterior trim. There is also a 360deg camera system, an upgraded sound system and an auto brake feature added to the rear cross-traffic alert system.
While there is a dedicated EV (electric vehicle) button, don't expect to get all that far on electric power alone. However, driven smoothly, you should be able to filter through heavy traffic without using the engine much, thus saving fuel and keeping things nicely hushed. Ride comfort isn't brilliant, mind, because it tends to thud over potholes and expansion joints, and never feels as well controlled as the Honda CR-V - a fellow rival that can also be had as a hybrid.
Also, the CR-V is less bothered by the additional weight of its battery pack, an issue in the RAV4 that makes it feel less willing to change directions on a twisty road than its rival. The RAV4 also isn't as quiet once up to speed on the motorway compared with the Honda due to higher levels of wind and road noise.
It's not all doom and gloom because the sat-nav system, various trip computer functions, and hybrid displays in the RAV4 are far easier to operate than they are in the CR-V. Plus the RAV4 has plenty of pleasingly chunky controls that feel unbreakable.
Visibility is generally excellent and the standard reversing camera is a boon for parking. Only the tallest of people will have issues finding a comfortable driving position, and there are lots of storage spaces to take your detritus. There's more rear leg room than you'll find in a Mazda CX-5, and it's broad enough for most. If you need more room, you'll need a Peugeot 5008 with its three individual rear seats and the added benefit of two flip out seats in the boot.
Speaking of the boot, while the CR-V has a flatter load area than the RAV4 with the seats folded, but the Toyota has a bigger boot overall.
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