Toyota RAV4 review

Category: Large SUV

Section: Costs & verdict

Available fuel types:hybrid
Available colours:
Toyota RAV4 2021 infotainment
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  • Toyota RAV4 2021 RHD cornering shot
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  • Toyota RAV4 2021 RHD dashboard
  • Toyota RAV4 2021 rear seats
  • Toyota RAV4 2021 infotainment
  • Toyota RAV4 2021 wide tracking shot
  • Toyota RAV4 2021 panning shot
  • Toyota RAV4 2021 RHD front interior shot
RRP £31,090What Car? Target Price from£29,809
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Costs & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

There are certainly cheaper options, including the Mazda CX-5 and Peugeot 5008. However, the RAV4 is priced broadly in line with its closest rival, the Honda CR-V Hybrid and undercuts the Kia Sorento by a healthy margin. Plug-in hybrid models are the most expensive by far, costing considerably more than a Citröen C5 Aircross Hybrid or a Ford Kuga PHEV. However, there are many other four-wheel drive plug-ins that cost a similar amount including the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 and the Suzuki Across, which is closely related to the RAV4.

The extra technology in hybrid cars, especially plug-ins, makes them more expensive to build, so this isn't surprising. Besides, you'll make some of that cost back in fuel savings; in our What Car? True MPG tests, the two-wheel-drive RAV4 hybrid achieved a combined MPG of 49mpg. In the same test, the smaller 2.2-litre diesel unit in the Mazda CX-5 achieved 47.4mpg. The news is even better if you primarily drive around town; during the urban section of our test the RAV4 chalked up an astonishing 91.9mpg. That beats even Toyota’s own Yaris hybrid small car, let alone conventionally powered SUV rivals.

However, it's company car drivers the RAV4 is most compelling for; with low CO2 emissions of just 103g/km (lower than the CR-V’s 126g/km, let alone the 145g/km of the similarly-specced Mazda CX-5) you'll reap rewards in benefit in kind (BIK) tax payments. It’s even better news with the plug-in; a seriously low CO2 rating of just 22g/km and an official all-electric range of over 40 miles puts it in a lower tax bracket than even the Ford Kuga PHEV. It's also worth noting that the RAV4 is expected to depreciate at a slower rate than the vast majority of rivals.

Equipment, options and extras

It might be pricier to buy than some rivals, but equipment levels are high. All models come with adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate control, alloy wheels, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding door mirrors and rear privacy glass. 

It’s still worth stepping up to Design grade, though, to gain some of the options we’ve mentioned before, from front parking sensors to sat-nav, as well as further additions such as bigger alloys and keyless entry. Excel and Dynamic are very well equipped, with niceties including leather trim, a heated steering wheel and heated seats, but bump up the price significantly. Four-wheel drive, available on Design, Excel or Dynamic trim levels, adds a considerable premium, too. 

Toyota RAV4 2021 infotainment

Reliability

It’s unlikely you’ll need to worry about your RAV4 breaking down, or at least that’s what Toyota’s reliability record would suggest. In the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey, Toyota came third out of 31 brands, behind only Lexus (which is actually owned by Toyota) and Suzuki, which is an impressive result.

The RAV4 itself performed exceedingly well in the large SUV category coming second to the Lexus NX. As back-up, you also get a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty; that’s far better than you get as standard on most of its rivals and is beaten only by Kia’s seven-year effort.

Safety and security

The RAV4 has received an excellent rating from Euro NCAP. Not only does it get the full five stars overall, but if you look at the scores in each category it racks up some of the highest in the class — better than rivals including the Peugeot 5008, Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V. In other words, it's one of the safest cars in the large SUV class.

That’s helped by the fact it comes with a long list of safety equipment which includes automatic emergency braking (including for pedestrians and cyclists), traffic sign recognition, lane keeping assistance and an SOS emergency call function.

Go for Excel trim or above and you'll also get blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, the latter of which warns you of approaching vehicles when you're backing out onto a road.

Overview

The RAV4 is fairly ordinary to drive, but its strong points lie elsewhere. Its real selling points are costs; yes, it’s a little pricier to buy than some other large SUVs, but you should make that back down the line through its strong resale values and astounding economy, especially around town. If you’re a company car driver, the RAV4 should work out to be one of the cheapest large SUVs on company car tax, too.

  • Exceedingly frugal
  • Slow predicted depreciation
  • Strong reliability record
  • Terrible infotainment system
  • Rivals are better to drive
  • No seven-seat option

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