What's the used Toyota RAV4 4x4 like?
This is the third-generation Toyota RAV4. It retains the compact, relatively sporty character of its two predecessors, but unlike those models, this one wasn’t available with three doors.
On the plus side, it’s much more practical than previous versions, with plenty of space for adults in the back, and a large, well-shaped boot. The only problem is that this is accessed through a side-hinged tailgate that makes it impossible to load or unload luggage when another car is parked closely behind.
The RAV4 was available with two engines: a 2.0-litre petrol and the more popular 2.2-litre D-4D diesel. This initially came with 134bhp, but after 2009 was upgraded to 147bhp and had lower emissions. A 177bhp version was also offered.
Like its predecessors, the third-generation RAV4 is quite fun to drive for an SUV. However, the ride is quite harsh over poorly surfaced roads, and the RAV4 is noisier than rivals such as the Honda CR-V and Nissan X-Trail.
What used Toyota RAV4 4x4 will I get for my budget?
RAV4s really cling on to their value, thanks to Toyota’s reputation for reliability and the current high demand for SUVs and 4x4s. Even the oldest of this generation of RAV4, which are now a decade old, can still command a price of close to £3000 when in good condition.
You’ll need to find £4000-£5000 for the cheapest versions of the 147bhp diesel engine, and while a petrol model would be slightly cheaper, they’re not massively more affordable thanks to high overall demand and their relative scarcity.
A late-model 2012 car with a high specification (which can include an automatic gearbox and leather trim) could still set you back as much as £15,000.
How much does it cost to run a Toyota RAV4 4x4?
To get the best possible running costs, you really need to go for the post-2009 D-CAT version of the 2.2-litre D-4D diesel engine. Although it had an extra 13bhp over the previous version, it’s actually more economical and has lower CO2 emissions.
CO2 emissions of 154g/km might not sound all that impressive in a modern context, but it’s still an improvement on the 173g/km of the previous version of the same engine, and it should get close to its official 48mpg in real-world driving.
The 2.0-litre petrol model, by contrast, averages 32mpg and 202g/km, although those covering low annual mileages and taking mostly urban journeys shouldn’t dismiss it out of hand.
Which used Toyota RAV4 4x4 should I buy?
You’re best to go for the highly-specified XT5 model, which has everything from climate control and an auto-dimming rear view mirror to rain-sensing wipers and heated front seats.
There was a two-wheel drive version of the RAV4, but this wan’t all that popular, so most that you will find will have four-wheel drive. That’s a good thing though – it makes the RAV4 more capable in poor weather conditions, and while it’s very much a ‘soft-roader’, it can tackle mild off-roading.
All models came with 17in alloys as standard, but 18in wheels were available as an option.
Our favourite used Toyota RAV4: 2.2 D-Cat D-4D XT5
What alternatives should I consider to a used Toyota RAV4 4x4?
The third-generation RAV4 arrived just as the SUV market really began to heat up, so there’s no shortage of rivals.
Honda launched its third generation CR-V just a year later, and although you’ll pay slightly more for an equivalent CR-V, it’s a larger and more sophisticated car.
The Nissan X-Trail was also replaced by a larger and more sophisticated model at this time, which makes for a very sharp RAV4 rival – good to drive, roomy and frugal.
Land Rover's Freelander was just entering its second-generation model, and it’s a car that wiped out many of the reliability worries of its predecessor. It’s (arguably) more stylish and more 'premium' in feel than the RAV4, but more expensive to buy.
Finally, there’s also the option of the Subaru Forester, which in this generation was still more of a tall estate car than a full SUV. It’s roomy, comfortable, hugely reliable and surprisingly adept off-road.
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