Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
If you’re looking for a large SUV, there are cheaper options than the RAV4, including the Mazda CX-5 and Peugeot 5008. However, the Toyota is priced broadly in line with its closest hybrid rival, the Honda CR-V and undercuts the Kia Sorento by a healthy margin. The plug-in hybrid models cost a lot more than the equivalent Citröen C5 Aircross Hybrid or the excellent Ford Kuga PHEV, though. Even the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 and Suzuki Across (closely related to the RAV4) undercut the RAV4 PHEV, making it hard to recommend as a private buy.
Company car drivers might find the RAV4 compelling, though. The hybrid produces just 103g/km of CO2, making it cleaner than the CR-V and Mazda CX-5, so you'll have low benefit in kind (BIK) tax payments. The plug-in's CO2 rating of just 22g/km puts it in a lower tax bracket than even the Ford Kuga PHEV. However, the high list price means it isn’t a noticeably cheaper company car than the Kuga, and the Kuga PHEV is predicted to depreciate at a slower rate than the equivalent RAV4.
You'll recover some of the outlay in fuel savings. In our What Car? True MPG tests, the two-wheel-drive RAV4 hybrid achieved 49mpg overall, with an astonishing 91.9mpg in the urban section. That efficiency beats even Toyota’s own Yaris hybrid small car, let alone conventionally-powered SUV rivals. You probably won't get close to the claimed 282mpg fuel economy of the PHEV, but if you keep the battery topped up and make mainly shorter journeys, you might rarely have to fill up. When the battery runs down, you can expect up to 50mpg with careful driving. The PHEV's maximum charging speed is 6.6kW – quicker than the Across – so if you plug it into a home wallbox charger you’ll get a full charge in two and a half hours.
Equipment, options and extras
The Toyota RAV4's 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 bigger alloys and keyless entry. Excel and Dynamic are very well-equipped, with extras 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.
The RAV4 Plug-in is available only in Design, Dynamic or Dynamic Premium trim and is a little better equipped than the standard hybrid. Dynamic Premium includes luxuries such as a panoramic roof, a JBL premium sound system and ventilated front seats, but is eye-wateringly expensive. We’d happily stick with Design trim as it comes with everything you really need and some luxuries, including heated rear seats.
Toyota’s reliability record suggests that you needn't worry about your RAV4 breaking down. In the What Car? Reliability Survey, the manufacturer came an impressive third out of 31 brands, behind only Lexus (which is owned by Toyota) and Mitsubishi.
The RAV4 performed exceedingly well in the large SUV category, coming second to the Lexus NX. As a back-up, you also get a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty, which is 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 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, the Toyota racks up some of the highest in the class — better than rivals including the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and Peugeot 5008. In other words, it's one of the safest cars in the large SUV class.
That’s helped by the fact that it comes with a long list of safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking which reacts to 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, which warns you of approaching vehicles when you're backing out on to a road.
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