Sunday, December 16, 2007

Toyota RAV4 Review

Toyota RAV4

The previous generation RAV4 was the right car at the right time. Its overtly 4x4 look, funky bodyshape and excellent on-road manners, meant it was perfectly placed to pick up sales during the soft-roader boom of the mid-Nineties. Toyota stuck to the same formula for the re-launched model in 2000. The look is a little more sophisticated, it's a lot safer and there’s more kit, but the core proposition remains the same. It retains buyer appeal.

Both the VVTi units - the 1.8 and 2.0 - are willing and work well, the 123bhp 1.8 in the front-wheel-drive NV is based on the MR2 and Celica unit. It's reasonably economical, returning a Combined fuel consumption figure of 38.2mpg. It's quick for a 4x4 too - with a 0-60mph time of 12.2 seconds. But the main petrol unit is the 147bhp two-litre. It's swift (0-60mph in 10.9 seconds), but less refined than the 1.8 and fuel consumption is 32.1mpg. Diesel buyers can opt for the 2.0 D-4D, it's lively enough for most people, is quite refined and gives 39.8mpg.

The RAV4 range is made up of three and five-door estates and four trim levels: NV, NRG, GX and VX. NV has air-con, electric front windows, alarm and immobiliser (1.8 NV is two-wheel-drive; all others are four-wheel-drive). NRG is the high-spec three-door choice, with a CD player, colour-coded side panels and wheelarches and larger alloys. GX models have equipment similar to the three-door NV, plus an electric sunroof and CD player. Top-spec five-door is the VX with leather trim, a CD autochanger and colour-coded wheelarch extensions.

The high vantage point will suit drivers of most sizes and shapes and it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. The dashboard is well laid out and all the buttons and switches look good, fall easily to hand and are simple to use. Good all-round visibility helps with parking and motorway overtaking.

The front seats are well profiled for good all-round support, but the three-door is very cramped in the rear and only suitable for two passengers. Five-door is better and is good for two adults or three children.

Old RAV4 was a paragon of reliability and the new one should be no different. It's been on sale for a while and owners report very few problems indeed.

Models that command the best money are the 1.8-litre NV three-door (it's ideal for town-only driving), 2.0-litre VX five-door (generous specification and good performance) and the 2.0 D-4D (although there are few outside the Toyota dealer network).

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