This Car Review Is About: Toyota released a Suburban Utility Vehicle in the late 1990s. Named the RAV4, or Recreational Activity Vehicle: 4-wheel drive, it’s this car that’s to “blame” for the rise of the SUV. In mid-2019 Toyota released a new version and it’s been a substantial upgrade. For the first time the RAV4 has been given a hybrid driveline option and it’s available across three of the four model model range. There is the entry GX, then GXL, Cruiser, and up-spec Edge, the only one not available with a Hybrid.Under The Bonnet Is: Power is either a 2.0L petrol or 2.5L hybrid. The GX is the only version available with a proper gearbox, a six speed manual, otherwise there is a Constant Variable Transmission for all bar the Edge. Driveline options are two or all wheel drive for the hybrids. The Edge also has only the 2.5L petrol and comes with an eight speed auto. Economy figures are startling. The GX manual is quoted as 6.8L/100km, and 6.5L/100km for the auto. Go hybrid (as tested) and it’s quoted as 4.7L100km for the standard engine, 4.8L/100km for the hybrid. These figures are on the combined cycle using 91RON. We averaged on a purely urban cycle a brilliant 5.5L/100km from the 55L tank. Kerb weight for the hybrid GX is quoted as 1,705kg.Peak power for the standard engine is 127kW. The two and AWD hybrid system is rated as 160kW/163kW. Peak torque from the 2.0L is 203Nm. The hybrid engine quotes 221Nm from the petrol engine only, with no figure from the Toyota website showing a combined torque number.
What’s It Cost?: This is where it can be a bit messy due to the variants. In Glacier White, with 2WD and 2.0L manual, my drive-away price was just over $34,300. Tap the AWD button and the website automatically updates to 2.5L hybrid and CVT. Price jumped to $42,203…Choosing Eclipse Black and the price went to $42,821. GXL starts at $39,628 for the 2.0L auto in white. Metallic paint takes it to $40,246, then the hybrid option in black goes to $45,911.On The Inside Is: A long list of standard equipment. Playthings for the front seat passengers include DAB audio on a slightly fiddly to use eight inch touchscreen, plus Bluetooth streaming, and USB/Aux. The layout can be modified in look however the default, in a three screen layout, is to have the navigation screen as the primary or larger, allowing audio, eco, clock, etc, to be moved around in the other two smaller screens. Naturally the Toyota app system provides flexibility. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are coming… Wireless phone charging is available in the GXL upwards. The rear seat passengers have charge points and airvents, plus the subwoofer for the audio is behind the driver.In the hybrid there is a screen that shows the drive system, with the display showing power being apportioned between the wheels, battery, and petrol engine. There is also a usage page that shows distance and economy figures. The driver has a smaller info screen and this shows on-the-fly eco info amongst the usual radio, safety, and connected device information. If there’s a query about the interior it’s to do with the dash design overall. It mirrors the blocky exterior and offers no sense of cockpit or wraparound. However, there’s a nice touch with knurled rubber surrounds to a couple of the dials under the screen. The rear seats are 60/40 split-fold and cargo space is 542L. Lift the rear floor and there is a space saver spare.
On The Outside Is: Dual exhaust pipes featuring at the rear under a manually operated tailgate. The exterior is a more solidly engineered look, with a blocky, non-organic design. The front end has a bulldog-jowl stance, with the grille line on either side a downturned angle. This echoes the stance in profile, with a longish nose giving a head’s down appearance. The rear is also squared off and has plenty of angles and straight lines. The cargo section houses a space-saver spare, with a full sizer being an option. Black polycarbonate body mouldings feature on the sides and under the front & rear lights.Head inside and all four windows are dual touched powered. Heated seats don’t appear until the Cruiser nor do powered seats. The GX has 17 inch alloys and 225/65 Bridgestone Atenza rubber. Lighting is halogen fog lamps and LED Projector, dusk sensing, headlights for the Hybrid. The cluster is surrounded by LEDS and it’s a classy look. Wing mirrors are power operated and heated.
What’s It Go Like?
Like the proverbial off a shovel. Although noticeably front wheel drive in normal drive situations with a heavy feel to the filler, it makes it abundantly clear that it’s a front wheel biased setup when punched hard off the line. The traction control system has been tweaked to allow a driver to launch hard but with some front wheel scrabbling, even with those 225 width tyres. It quickly picks up the drive and sends power to the rear as needed. And it gets away quickly, with no sense of feeling weighed down. In gera acceleration is pretty good too, just quietly, with rapid picup and response from the pedal push.There is electric power only up to 20 to 25 kp/h if using a light right foot, but then brings in the petrol engine above that, or quicker for a heavier throttle input. There’s a few vibrations on engagement and these too disappear quickly. The petrol engine is muted in sound and when heard has a dulled metallic edge to its note. It’s a delightful highway cruiser and is as equally adept around the ‘burbs. Although the steering is front heavy it’s weighted enough to have the driver connected and aware of what’s going on with the MacPherson strut setup. On the highways it lightens enough to have lane changing feel natural, nimble, and confident, rather than imparting a sense of heaviness.Ride quality is fantastic. It’s supple and compliant, with well controlled damping. The trailing wishbone rear has a slightly tauter feel to deal with the 580L cargo space. This means slow speed bumps have the rear bang a bit harder but still not uncomfortably so.
Naturally the braking feel is en pointe, with instant engagement from the barest touch. It’s a natural and instinctive travel too, with the modulation as finely adjusted as you can get to read, via the foot, just where the pedal is and what it’s doing.What About Safety?: Passengers are wrapped in seven airbags, for good measure. Toyota crams its SafetySense package into the new RAV4 range and it’s a potent package. Lane Departure Alert, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Trace Assist with the CVT model, plus Pre-Collision with pedestrian and cyclist. Then there is Rear Cross Traffic Alert, front parking sensor alert, Road Sign Assist, Active Cruise Control, and auto high beam.At The End Of The Drive. Toyota have gone hard on the hybrid philosophy, and it’s working. There’s a high level of standard equipment and safety, a dogged, assertive look, and it’s not a bad drive. Aurally it’s as dull as dishwater, the bulldog looks may not appeal to all after coming from a more angular and sharper exterior, and the fiddly touchscreen may also not be a winner. Head to the Toyota website for more, or check the spec sheet here.