Toyota RAV4 2WD Review

The recall exempt entry-level Toyota RAV4 might just make the most sense. Find out why by reading our review.

"No, this on hasn't been recalled. And yes, it's quite good."

What is it?It’s pretty odd to turn the key of an SUV and not hear a diesel engine of some kind or other rattle into life. So that’s why we decided to take a spin in the base spec Toyota RAV4 that comes with the firm’s 2.0-litre Valvematic petrol engine and new six-speed manual gearbox.

What’s more, the engine also heralds the re-introduction of the two-wheel-drive RAV, for customers who want the high driving position and space of a normal SUV, but without having to pay at the pumps. And no, in case you're wondering, this RAV isn't on the recall list.

What’s it like on the outside?The RAV4 isn’t exactly what you’d call exciting to look at. Ever. But the fact that its design is pretty bland also means that it’s pretty inoffensive, so you won’t attract the unwanted attention of people who think SUVs are the spawn of satan. This particular RAV went on sale last year, so it benefits from Toyota’s most recent styling tweaks - new front bumpers, new headlights, indicators mounted in the door mirrors and new rear light clusters. Super.

What’s it like on the inside?The phrase 'wipe-clean' isn’t used often enough in car reviews, but that’s just about the best way of describing the RAV’s interior. It features very simple switchgear and control made from very plain, simple plastics that will take all you can throw at them and only need the attention of a damp sponge to make them look presentable again. It’s functional, and practical, with the rear swallowing up two mountain bikes without fuss.

What’s it like to drive?The RAV4 is surprisingly dynamic for an off-roader. The engine provides a decent amount of get up and go, and the new gearbox is very slick and positive. The steering is pretty good too, providing a surprising level of response. The suspension is fairly stiff so you don’t end up cornering on the door handles all the time. But the unfortunate trade off for this is that the ride is pretty fidgety, and particularly jarring on the motorway. At least the new engine is nowhere near as noisy as the diesel option.

VerdictIf you don’t do many miles, and have your heart set on a smallish Toyota off-roader, then the two-wheel-driive RAV is a competent choice. It drives well thanks to the punch of the engine and weight loss caused by dropping the four-wheel-drive system. It’s a whole £3,883 cheaper than a four-wheel-drive diesel too. It’s not exciting, but it’s unlikely to go wrong ever either.

Car Specs - Toyota RAV4 XT-R

Engine:2.0-litre petrol, 156hp
0-62mph:10.2 seconds
Top speed:115mph
Economy/emissions:38.8mpg/174g/km CO2
Price/On sale £20,113/Now

We rate:Engine offers decnt punch and refinemendTwo-wheel-drive makes sense

We slate:Ride isn't compliantIt's dull dull dull

Rating: Image removed.

By Tom Phillips

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