Toyota has treated its RAV4 off-roader to a few tweaks here and there. Ian Robertson tests the new, improved facelifted SUV
Some off roaders have gained a bad reputation mainly for their sheer bulkiness. But there’s a breed of SUV that have a smaller footprint, and are neither big, nor brash. The RAV4 is one of them, and at 4,335mm long, it is actually a few millimetres shorter than the Ford Focus at 4,337mm.
Recently facelifted, the RAV4 range has been slimmed down to just two models. There’s a range-topping SR version with an automatic gearbox and the model tested here in XT-R trim, equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox. The 2.2 D-4D engine has been revised and gains 10 per cent more power, now rated at 148bhp and an extra 22lb ft of torque. Normally more power means higher fuel consumption and worse CO2 emissions, but in this case, both have been improved, resulting in the RAV4 now having the lowest CO2 of any compact off-roader on the market, at just 154g/km. Other changes are pretty mild in comparison, with a new front bumper, lights and grille, together with new rear light cluster and a new set of alloy wheels.
The interior is an attractive design, but feels quite dated compared to newer rivals. The satin-effect dashboard is full of hard plastics and could be improved by the adoption of soft-touch mouldings. The layout is pleasing though, with all the controls logically placed, and the flat-bottomed steering wheel is nice to hold. The heated leather seats are a pleasant touch, but you feel as though you are perched quite high. The rear seats slide forwards and back, allowing extra legroom or luggage space, while the load bay is generously proportioned with 366 litres of space available below the cover. Access to the boot is awkward though, with a heavy side-hinged tailgate door that is hinged to the right, requiring a lot of space to open it fully.
First impressions on the road are quite good, with an eager engine delivering decent performance and oodles of mid-range torque. At idle, the 148bhp 2.2-litre unit is quite noisy, but that quietens down a little on the move. The six-speed manual gearbox is quite notchy and clunky, and at times was obstructive and needed a second attempt to get into first gear. The RAV4 feels quite cumbersome out on the road, and leans through the corners, yet there’s still plenty of grip and adhesion, while the ride feels quite firm and could do with a touch more pliancy.
At £22,815, the Toyota is well priced, especially when you consider the generous levels of standard kit. Heated electric leather seats, keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, power folding mirrors, auto dimming rear view mirror, rain sensor and automatic headlights are all included, while Bluetooth connectivity makes things easier for buyers that need to communicate on the move. Residual values and insurance costs are class competitive too, making the RAV4 an attractive proposition.
RIVALS: Ford Kuga Zetec 2.0 TDC i AWD, Honda CR-V 2.2 i-CTDi ES, Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0 DI-D GSE
- Engine: 2231cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max Power: 148bhp at 3,600rpm
- Max Torque: 251lb ft at 2,000-2,800rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 2,000kg
- Combined Consumption: 48.7mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 154g/km (G)
- 0-62mph: 10.2secs
- Max speed: 118mph
- Insurance group: tba
Highly specced, good performance from eager engine, low CO2 and ownership costs
Notchy gearbox, firm ride, leans a little too much in corners