Used Toyota RAV4 4x4 1994 - 2000 review

Category: Large SUV

A great used buy: fun, stylish and very reliable

Toyota RAV4 4x4 (94 - 00)
  • Toyota RAV4 4x4 (94 - 00)
  • Toyota RAV4 4x4 (94 - 00)
Used Toyota RAV4 4x4 1994 - 2000 review
Star rating

What's the used Toyota RAV4 4x4 like?

The RAV4 has been described as the offspring of a Toyota Landcruiser and a Ford Fiesta XR2, and that pretty much sums it up. It drives like a hot hatch, but looks like an off-roader.

The truth, though, is that it's much more of a hot hatch. Although it has full-time four-wheel drive, this is no Land Rover away from the Tarmac. There are no low-ratio gears, for example. On the other hand, no other 4x4 handles as well on the road. It's crisp through the bends, with little body roll, rides pretty well and is great fun.


A great used buy: fun, stylish and very reliable

  • Reliable, drives well on the road
  • affordable
  • Not great off the Tarmac

The three-door version is the most fun to drive, but rather cramped in the back. So, families will prefer the larger five-door model, which gives you useful extra space and practicality, but without losing too much of the enjoyment.

Ownership cost

What used Toyota RAV4 4x4 will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Toyota RAV4 4x4?

Compared with a conventional hatchback, such as the Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra, the RAV4 looks pretty expensive to buy and run. However, compared with 4x4 rivals like the Land Rover Freelander or Honda CR-V, costs are far more reasonable.

The real beauty of the car is that it very rarely needs repairs, but when things do go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right, especially compared with a standard hatch. That said, the RAV is no worse than the Honda CR-V in this respect, and labour rates at independent Toyota specialists are low, according to figures from Warranty Direct.

In terms of other running costs, the RAV looks pretty respectable. Insurance in groups 9 and 10 matches its rivals, and you can expect fuel economy of about 30mpg, which beats petrol versions of the CR-V and Freelander.

Our recommendations

Which used Toyota RAV4 4x4 should I buy?

As far as the engine goes, you haven't really got a choice. Throughout its life, the original RAV4 came only with a 2.0-litre petrol engine, originally with 129bhp, but reduced to 126bhp towards the end of 1996.

In terms of equipment, the younger the model, the more equipment it had. It was only from late 1996 that the car had standard driver and passenger airbags, for example.

On top of that, it's also worth avoiding the base three-door models, GS or EX. These missed out several important bits of kit that were standard on our favourite GX model, the next step up in the range.

The whole range was face-lifted at the end of 1997, but the best age to buy is from August '98 onwards, when the GX gained standard anti-lock brakes, air con and an electric sunroof. VX was the range-topping trim, with leather upholstery.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Toyota RAV4 4x4?