Toyota‘s RAV4 is the car most recognised as kicking off the SUV craze. As most small cars have done, it’s increased in size and tech. But has the recently facelifted RAV4 kept up with the most important of all, the times? A Wheel Thing checks out the new look 2016 all wheel drive in top of the tree Cruiser spec.The facelift mentioned brings the RAV4 more into line with the Corolla. The front has the angular, sharp nosed look, with the compressed and chrome lined air intake design plus large-ish T symbol front and symbol but also has the chin that wouldn’t look out of place on a Superman actor. The headlights have slimmed down and have lost the four dot LED driving lights, gaining, instead, a full width setup. It’s brought even closer to the Corolla by slotting in lookalike tail lights complete with the neon light look.
Behind the grille sits Toyota’s 2.5L petrol engine, a revvy and responsive unit. To be honest, it surprised in its capability to buzz around the dial and get the RAV into a comfortable speed, utilising the 233 torques (4100 revs) when under way quite nicely when an increase in forward motion was required. From a standing start, it’ll wind around to the peak power of 132 kilowatts (6000 rpm) easily, getting the RAV to freeway speeds with surprising alacrity. A kerb weight of 1600 kilos goes some way to helping…
Coinciding with the drive being apportioned is one of the display options shown in the centre of the dash, being the proportion of power being sent to the four corners. Under normal driving, it’ll light up the front tyres but when punted hard, the display shows how much drive is sent to the rear. There’s a price to pay for that exuberance, however, and that’s 11.4L of 91 RON being slurped for every 100 kilometres in an urban cycle from the sixty litre tank.
It’s tractable enough and the six speed auto it twirls is a delight with the slickness and imperceptibility of the shifts. Under heavy acceleration the gears wind through nicely and on a downhill run will downshift until the fourth gear which, depending on the length of the slope, will hold that ratio.
For every silver lining, there’s a cloud: the brakes lack feel and in one almost emergency stop, the car “locked up” rather than having ABS kicking in. There’s a need, much like the Ford Ranger and Everest, to push down too far before any semblance of grab makes its way back to the driver’s brain. And, unlike Holden’s SV6, as an example, there’s no feel of progression, with no sense of increasing retardation the further down the brake travels.
The interior seems almost old school compared to the freshen up the exterior has received. The sweep of the lower section of the dashboard almost intrudes into the driver and passenger’s personal space plus the switch gear just doesn’t have the same feel of modernity that something like the Corolla has. The feel of the plastics lacks the tactility that other mainstream Toyotas have and the stitched leather look just doesn’t seem to gel with the rest of the plastics used. The somewhat lacklustre look is highlighted further when the sunroof is opened, bringing the outside in.There’s plenty of tech, as you would presume: pretensioning seatbelts, airbags all around, bluetooth streaming, satnav, the LED screen in the dash, parking sensors, reverse camera, DAB radio with a punchy 11 speaker sound system including a cargo section mounted subwoofer, but only the driver gets an electric seat, rather than both front pews. There’s blind spot monitoring and autonomous braking to add to the safety package as well.Room wise it’s a more than comfortable four seater but if you’ve three adults needing the back seat, like many cars of this size, it’ll be a tiiiiiight squeeze. Maximum width is just 1845 mm, but there’s plenty of leg room thanks to a 2660 mm wheelbase inside the 4605 mm overall length. There’s machine made leather cladding the seats, a fold out and down cup holder for the rear seat whilst the front of the centre console lodges a holder right underneath the bottom sweep of the dash, slightly slabby squabs and no print to the material. The look is….not of a high quality and drags down the overall presence. Sensibly, though, Toyota has eschewed carpet and fitted rubber floor mats instead. They’re easier to clean and far more hard wearing and durable.
It’s a good handler, however, with the 235/55/18 rubber providing plenty of grip, translating into precise movements from the steering wheel. There was, though, a slight propensity to understeer in ninety degree turns, with the nose not tracking as tightly as expected. Ride quality tends towards the firmer, almost sporty, inclination, with almost no float, feeling tight and tied down.
At $44500 plus onroads (coming in at close to $49K driveaway) there’s good value to be had in the RAV4 Cruiser but it could be better value with an improved interior and better brakes. Fuel economy could also be better around town yet is balanced by a highway figure of 6.8L/100. The refresh has certainly brought the exterior into line with the Corolla, almost positioning the RAV as an extension of that family as there’s no wagon available. Compared to something like the Ford Kuga, though, the interior lacks class and presence. It’s a good drive though, moves with alacrity and has a good sound system for when the freeway calls…
Head across to here: 2016 Toyota RAV4 details for all you need to know.