Toyota RAV4 SUV review
"The hybrid-only Toyota RAV4 will appeal to company-car drivers and its striking design helps it stand out in a busy class”
- Low CO2 emissions
- Bold new looks
- Functional interior
- Poor infotainment system
- Limited model range
- No seven-seat option
The Toyota RAV4 has transformed from a rather dull wallflower into a striking SUV with hints of the bold Toyota C-HR crossover. Not only does it look far more interesting, but the RAV4 is now only available as a hybrid and plug-in hybrid.
Aside from picking a colour and trim level, your only choices when buying a RAV4 are whether to go for front or four-wheel drive, or the plug-in option, although the latter is considerably more expensive. Fuel economy of over 45mpg is possible for the hybrid, which is sure to impress private buyers, and company-car drivers will appreciate the low CO2 emissions figures across the RAV4 range, which place the car in the mid-range Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) bandings.
The plug-in hybrid RAV4 is in another league again when it comes to efficiency figures, managing up to 282.5mpg with CO2 emissions of just 22g/km. You'll need to keep its battery topped up to achieve anything close to this but it's impressive nonetheless.
The slightly anonymous design of the previous RAV4 has been replaced by boxy wheel arches, a squared-off nose with an aggressively large grille, and an abundance of angular slashes and edges in the bodywork. In standard trim, silver bodywork accents give the car a typically rugged SUV look, with higher trim level models getting a blacked-out roof and door pillars.
While the design of the new RAV4 is potentially divisive, it's certainly more appealing and less anonymous than the old car. The RAV4 did need to stand out more than it did before, particularly when the competition, including the Skoda Kodiaq, Ford Kuga, BMW X3, Hyundai Tucson, Volkswagen Tiguan and Peugeot 3008, makes the class so strong.
While not as daring, the inside of the RAV4 is perfectly suited to family life thanks to sturdy materials and excellent quality, along with neat touches like rubberised rotary controls. The entry-level Icon trim has plenty of features but the eight-inch infotainment system is one of the RAV4's biggest disappointments. It has somewhat outdated graphics, and a poor interface, but at least Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration has now been added, to avoid putting some buyers off the car entirely.
The Toyota wins back points for practicality, with a powered hatchback, fitted with the Design trim and above, revealing a sizeable 580-litre boot. A stretched interior also means adults will be able to travel more comfortably in the back, even if the RAV4 is smaller than the huge Skoda Kodiaq and lacks a seven-seat option.
See how this car scored on our sister site DrivingElectric.