The Toyota RAV4 comes with a neat interior that looks smart and feels pretty upmarket but it’s let down by a few cheap-feeling trims and an unintuitive infotainment system
The Toyota RAV4’s interior is laid out simply and sensibly and it certainly looks more modern than the VW Tiguan’s rather bland design. You get swathes of soft, squidgy plastics across the dashboard and doors, and plenty of aluminium-effect trims on the steering wheel, door handles and around the air vents.
The free-standing infotainment display sits high up on the dashboard so it’s easy to glance at while you’re driving. Unlike the rather incongruous display you get in a Ford Kuga, the RAV4’s screen looks like it belongs perched way up above the air vents thanks to a few shiny metal trims which extend downwards and form a ring around the centre console.
There are a few hard, brittle plastics – most obviously on the grab handles, around the glovebox and below the central armrest – but on the whole the RAV4’s cabin feels pretty plush and suitably solid. The chunky air conditioning knobs are easy to use too, but the heated seat switches are tucked away under the dashboard.
Icon and Design models come with fabric upholstery while Excel versions come with black leather seats and suede-like Alcantara door trims. Sporty Dynamic cars get some faux-leather sports seats with contrasting blue stitching but you can pay extra to have leather seats fitted in either brown, black or black and grey or a two-tone black leather and Alcantara design with brown or grey stitching.
Toyota was so close to nailing the RAV4’s interior – until it turned its attention to the infotainment system. It’s so much trickier to use than what you get in most other family SUVs
Every Toyota RAV4 comes with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard. The screen is bright and relatively easy to read in direct sunlight, but it isn’t as sharp as the screen you get in a VW Tiguan and the clunky menu screens aren’t as easy to read with just a quick glance.
You do get plenty of physical shortcut buttons to help you switch between the features you’ll use most often, and there are two physical dials for the stereo volume and radio tuning.
Unfortunately, the home screen is very difficult to decipher – it shows a window for the sat-nav, one for the stereo and a third showing you the status of the hybrid system, but they’re so jumbled together you’ll have real trouble reading them or following directions.
On the subject of sat-nav, you get satellite navigation as standard in all but entry-level Icon models. It’s relatively easy to input an address and add a waypoint, but the maps themselves aren’t particularly clear. Sure, the graphics are nice and bright, but the system defaults to a very wide zoom which makes spotting upcoming turning rather tricky. You can zoom in manually, but only using the on-screen buttons – if you try to pinch (as you would with a smartphone) and the map stops following your progress and stays in a fixed position.
Unfortunately, you can’t mirror your phone’s navigation apps like you can in the VW Tiguan because no Toyota RAV4 comes with the option of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. You can still use the standard Bluetooth connection to play music from your phone through the car’s stereo, though.
Speaking of stereos, you get a fairly nondescript six-speaker system as standard but Excel and Dynamic cars come with the option of an upgraded nine-speaker JBL unit with subwoofer in the boot to deliver clearer, punchier bass notes. It certainly sounds better, but alternatives come with even more impressive stereo upgrades.