The Toyota RAV4 is a practical family SUV that has a roomy cabin, plenty of standard equipment and a frugal hybrid system, but alternatives have tech that’s easier to use
The Toyota RAV4 is an affordable family SUV with a spacious cabin, a big boot and a clever hybrid system that makes it cheap to run. It’s an alternative to the likes of the VW Tiguan and Honda CR-V, but stands out from these cars thanks to its super-aggressive looks.
From any angle, the Toyota RAV4 is a mishmash of creases, angular shapes and blunt surfaces. Its gaping octagonal grille looks more like it belongs on a menacing sports saloon than a practical family runabout. It won’t appeal to everyone, but it’s certainly memorable.
Less striking is the Toyota RAV4’s interior. Its collection of simple surfaces, clean lines and posh-looking metal-effect trims looks pretty understated and rather classy and most of the surfaces you’ll touch regularly feel plush and sturdy. It’s not quite as solid-feeling as a VW Tiguan, but it looks much more exciting than a Honda CR-V.
Unfortunately, one area you won’t be too keen to touch is the infotainment system. An 8-inch screen comes as standard in all RAV4s but its clunky menus and outdated graphics make it a bit of a pain to use while driving.
The supportive seats are just the thing to help calm your nerves, though – especially in mid-range cars where they come with lumbar support to reduce backache on long drives and loads of electric adjustment as standard. You’ll have ample space to stretch out, too – even if you’re tall.
The striking Toyota RAV4 makes a good alternative to the crop of humdrum family SUVs – especially if you rank practicality and running costs above sporty handling
The Toyota RAV4’s back seats are also impressively roomy and there’s more than enough space for a six-foot passenger to sit behind an equally tall driver. There’s enough shoulder space to carry three adults at once too, and you can recline the seat backs by a few degrees as standard – even in entry-level cars.
You won’t break a sweat fitting a child seat either, and the Toyota RAV4’s boot is easy to load thanks to its wide opening and flat floor. It’s more spacious than the Honda CR-V and you can flip the back seats down easily to carry really big stuff – such as a bike.
It’s not just easy to fill with luggage, driving the Toyota RAV4’s a doddle, too. Every model comes with a hybrid system which lets you cruise almost silently around town using just the power of its electric motor. And, you get an automatic gearbox as standard so you won’t find yourself constantly changing gear in heavy traffic.
Sadly, the latter causes the 2.5-litre petrol engine to rev loudly every time you accelerate. However, when cruising, the RAV4’s reasonably quiet at motorway speeds and irons out bumps pretty well, too. As an added bonus, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting close to Toyota’s claimed 51mpg fuel economy figure.
It comes with plenty of driver assistance features that make the Toyota RAV4 relaxing to drive for long periods and help prevent avoidable accidents – perfect if you’re looking for a safe family SUV that’s easy to live with every day – but it’s not as fun to drive as a SEAT Ateca.