The Toyota RAV4’s a roomy family car with a spacious interior but it’s quite expensive and alternatives come with a better range of engines
The Toyota RAV4 is a practical family SUV that’s easy to drive and comes with a funky looking cabin that’s packed with practical cubby holes.
It’s even roomier inside for passengers than the VW Tiguan or Honda CR-V but it doesn’t feel quite as well built as either of those cars. Sure, everything looks suitably plush but some of the controls feel a little bit last-year.
Especially guilty of this is the seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Its graphics look blocky and dated and it’s far more fiddly to use than the slick system you get in a Tiguan.
Thankfully, the RAV4 has a loftier driving position than the VW for a better view out, and you get plenty of headroom in both the front and rear seats. Its vast doors, raised roofline and clearly marked Isofix anchor points make slotting in a bulky child seat a doddle, too.
It’s not just child seats the Toyota can carry with ease – its boot is also impressively practical. It might not be quite as large as those in a Tiguan or CR-V with all five seats in place but its flat floor and low load height make lifting in heavy boxes a breeze. There’s even some handy underfloor storage and a few useful shopping hooks.
Toyota RAV4s are a bit like mobile phones – they used to be small and simple but over the years they’ve got progressively bigger and more complicated
You can get the RAV4 with petrol, diesel and hybrid engines and with either front- or four-wheel drive. Your best bet is the 2.0-litre diesel – it’s not just the cheapest to buy but it’s also the most economical.
Whichever model you pick, you’ll find the RAV4’s a little unsettled over bumpy city streets. It gets comfier once you head out onto faster country roads, however, and it does a good job of tackling twisty roads without leaning too much in corners. Unfortunately, you’ll hear a little more wind and tyre noise on the motorway than in the Honda or VW which can make long journeys a little more tiresome.
On the plus side, features such automatic emergency braking – that’ll brake for you if it senses an obstacle ahead – helped the RAV4 earn a five-star safety rating back in 2013, although Euro NCAP’s tests have got much stricter since.
All things considered, the Toyota RAV4 is well worth a look if you’re after a well-equipped family car that’s big on space and easy to drive – if not quite as plush feeling as some alternatives.