We drove the fourth generation Toyota RAV4 after its early 2013 launch but now in its 20th year the RAV4 has earned some tech goodies on higher spec models which may just tickle your soft off-roader fancies. EFTM took an “Inferno” (read burnt Orange) RAV4 Cruiser on a camping trip for a few days to check out some of the new gear.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
As a wannabe off-roader the RAV4 at least gives the impression of wanting to leave the asphalt from time to time. The cabin is a little noisy and the ride a fraction unrefined and hard. For example the optional full size-spare wheel tends to crash around under the rear cargo floor when tackling speed humps. But from behind the wheel there’s a sense of some rugged and capable DNA floating around. Most importantly a level of fun-factor has been built into the RAV4 which is precisely the point of this segment.
Dynamically vehicles like the Mazda CX-5 are far more engaging with near sedan-like handling manners and an excellent interior. However I’d prefer to occupy a RAV4 when it comes to simple but rock-laden, sandy river crossings or tracks that become unexpectedly challenging. For me the original SUV has always been a true all-rounder and remains so.
The as-tested 2.5-litre petrol engine variant does little to enhance the RAV4 experience, while free revving in nature it delivers only adequate pulling power in most instances. A fact proven on the open road when well-timed run ups are required for overtaking slower motorists.
But as a complete package the RAV4 still gets plenty right. It looks the part inside and out, is durable but funky and now even lends itself to the technophobes.
Ins And Outs.
The Toyota RAV4 Cruiser we sampled featured the newly introduced “Inferno” paint scheme. Matching terracotta and black highlights on the doors, dash and leather assented seats certainly added significant flair.
Last year the RAV4 offered a couple of firsts for any Toyota in Australia, albeit somewhat late compared with some others. Rear Cross Traffic Alert was added which allows sensors to basically peak around corners or obstructions like parked cars when reversing. Lane Departure Alert triggers an alarm when the driver starts to drift lanes although lacks steering correction like some more sophisticated systems found for example in a top end Ford Kuga.
Combine this with Blind Spot Monitoring, Automatic High Beam, DAB+ radio and an 11- speaker JBL sound system and you have a very adept package.
The Cruiser model tested here was fitted with the Camry sourced 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that develops 132kW and 233Nm. A six-speed automatic with Sport and Eco modes gets the job done with minimum fuss and can be overridden manually should engine braking be required. The Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) system is managed by an array of sensors and computer management systems to achieve the best possible level of traction at all times.
Torque can be spit up to 50:50 front and rear and the system certainly works well and gives the RAV4 some surprising off-road ability. A point proven when I tackled shallow but sandy and jarring river beds. Although part of the exhaust does jut out of the engine bay in a seemingly perilous way. Aside from that clearance levels are good and moderately difficult tracks can be tackled with ease.
As of December 2014 228,677 Toyota RAV4’s were snapped up by local buyers over its 20 year reign. That’s more than any other mid-sized SUV. You’d assume Toyota would think in this instance the RAV4 is simply the original and best and based on those figures it’s hard to argue with that. The problem of course is that during that 20 year period a host of very capable alternatives have spawned. Look no further than the Mitsubishi Outlander, Mazda CX-5 and the excellent Jeep Cherokee.
The Toyota RAV4 AWD Cruiser Petrol auto is priced from $47,290. A fair jump over the $38,190 GXL auto model. Toyota Advantage capped price serving is $170 for the first 3 years or 60,000kms. Fuel economy isn’t crash hot, I averaged 11.7L / 100km with the claim being 8.5L / 100km. If you just had to have a RAV4 the turbo-diesel variant is a must.
EFTM Rubber Stamp
The Toyota RAV4 won’t set your world on fire, but plenty of Aussies are still forking out for the rather benign but accomplished little SUV. In 2014, 18,160 of them drove out of showrooms, a jump of 6.9 per cent over the previous year. With SUV’s accounting for just over 30 per cent of the total market you can be sure that cars like the RAV4 will continue to improve and prosper. The facts don’t lie and the people have spoken and that’s why we give the top of the line Toyota RAV4 Cruiser the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp Of Approval.