Toyota RAV4 (2019) review

Our motoring journalist Tim Barnes-Clay on test location in Barcelona, Spain

Ushered in at the beginning of the year, this fifth incarnation of the RAV4 has sharper looks, as well as a low roof and an elevated ride height. Motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay went to Spain to drive it at its media launch.

Toyota’s fresh RAV4 comes in four trims, but all are factory-fitted with front fog lights, LED headlights, alloy wheels and a rear camera with reverse parking sensors. The flagship Dynamic I drove also has two-tone metallic paint and black 18-inch alloys.

The SUV’s cabin looks fittingly modern, with all housing an eight-inch touchscreen and a seven-inch display screen for the driver. Alas, the RAV4’s infotainment set-up is not easy to use and looks old hat.

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Thankfully, build quality is excellent with the exterior and interior feeling well fastened together. The seats are comfy with oodles of adjustment for the driver - and the rear chairs will tilt back for added comfort.

Real-world practicality is a must for a big SUV, and the Toyota doesn’t embarrass itself in this department. There’s space for five-up, with masses of leg and headroom for a trio of adults in the rear. There are a couple of cupholders in the middle of the front seats, substantial door pockets, and a cubbyhole near the gearstick. There’s also a good-sized storage box beneath the car’s centre armrest.

Importantly, the Toyota RAV4’s cargo capacity has been boosted by nearly 80 litres – and at 580-litres it’s comparable to the new Honda CR-V’s boot. Collapse the rear seats and the Toyota’s load area provides 1,690 litres of space.

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On the road, the all-new SUV supplies a satisfying ride that irons out road defects pleasantly and it should keep everyone content on long journeys. There’s a Sport switch by the gear stick, but don’t get carried away. It’s not a motor that inspires you to drive in an exceptionally athletic manner. The suspension is too soft, so you end up rolling in corners – and the steering is vague.

The petrol engine wails if you do stamp hard on the gas, but the continuously variable transmission (CVT) does its job well enough. Mind you; it adds to the din when you demand power quickly. The Toyota is also plagued by wind noise around the mirrors at speed.

The up-to-date RAV4 is only offered with a petrol-electric hybrid arrangement. The car’s combustion engine is a 2.5-litre unit and all models, bar the basic Icon (this can only be acquired with front-wheel drive), come with front-wheel and all-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive variants contain another electric motor to work the rear wheels, and this enables a degree of off-road motoring.

The Toyota’s biggest selling point is its low CO2 emissions; because they are low, business users will fork out less in terms of tax. But the RAV4 will attract non-business types too because it's a big, safe car with lots of kit stuffed into it. Sure, some consumers may not like the hybrid set-up and will want a diesel. Well, they’ll be left wanting because no RAV4 oil-burner is ever going to be made. However, other motorists will approve of the hybrid-only engine range’s eco-friendliness.

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Pros ‘n’ Cons

·       Comfortable √

·       Bountiful kit √

·       Spacious √

·       Efficient to run √

·       Noisy X


Fast Facts (New Toyota RAV4 Dynamic FWD – as tested by Tim Barnes-Clay)

·       Max speed: 112 mph

·       0-62 mph: 8.5 seconds

·       Combined mpg: 49.2

·       Engine layout: 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol + electric

·       Max. power (PS): 218

·       CO2: 105 g/km           

·       Price: £34,400


Read Carcliq’s other Toyota reviews:

Toyota Yaris GRMN 2018 

Toyota GT86 

See all Toyota Reviews 

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