Toyota RAV4 Hybrid interior
The Toyota RAV4’s interior is neat and simply laid out, but the infotainment system is its biggest weak point.
The Toyota RAV4’s interior might be laid out in a simple and sensible style but it certainly looks more modern than the rather plain look of the VW Tiguan’s cabin. The Toyota gets 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 infotainment display is a freestanding affair that sits high up on the dashboard rather than built-in lower down so it’s easy to glance at while you’re driving. It manages to look rather more integrated than other similarly high-riding screens (like the one on the Ford Kuga for example) thanks to some surrounding chrome trim that extends down onto the lower part of the dash.
The cabin features a few hard, brittle plastics – most notably on the grab handles, around the glovebox and below the central armrest – but, generally speaking, 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 get black cloth seats while Excel versions get black leather seats and suede-like Alcantara door trims. Top-level Dynamic cars get a faux-leather seat covering with contrasting blue stitching but there is a variety of different leather colour options available on all the trims.
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Every Toyota RAV4 comes with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard, although what that system can do differs depending on which model you go for.
Regardless, 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 isn’t as easy to use quickly while on the move.
The array of physical shortcut buttons are a bonus, though, and they will help you switch between the features you’ll use most often. There are also two easily reached physical dials for the stereo volume and radio tuning.
Turn attention back to the screen and the home menu is very difficult to decipher. It displays 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.
If you want the aforementioned satellite navigation then you get it as standard so long as you avoid the entry-level Icon model. It’s relatively easy to pop in 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 turns rather tricky. You can zoom in manually, but only using the on-screen buttons. Using a pinching motion, which you would on a smartphone, means that the map stops following your progress and stays in a fixed position.
However, if you would rather use one of the navigation apps on your phone then you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard on all models. You can also use the standard Bluetooth connection to play music from your phone through the car’s stereo, or there’s an aux-in socket if you want to link up using a cable.
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.