1.7.2019Toyota RAV4 2.5 Hybrid 2WD review
The Toyota RAV4 has come a long way from its origins 25 years ago as one of the earliest successful crossovers. It's grown up both in size and spirit, but this latest version looks to inject a bit more youthfulness into the family-sized SUV. Available with one of the now familiar Toyota hybrid powertrains, we test the RAV4 2.5 Hybrid.
Review by Chris Lilly
Buyers have a choice of just the one option - Toyota's 2.5 litre petrol hybrid. It sees maximum power figures of 218hp for this two-wheel drive version tested, while the addition of a second small electric motor on the rear axle sees all-wheel drive versions get 222hp. Sticking to the model driven, a 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds is in a good middle ground between fast and sluggish. As such, performance is about what you need from a large, practical SUV, and not much more. The RAV4 feels punchy at low speeds thanks to assistance from the electric motor, and the petrol engine takes over when that runs out of puff. As such, the RAV4 deals well with pottering around at town speeds, and equally performs well on the motorway. The CVT transmission will make a noise when accelerating hard, but stick to gentle prods of the throttle and refinement remains excellent. Worked hard, that refinement is lost almost completely, and is best kept for when you really need to get a wriggle on. Keep in the hybrid's sweet spot however and the RAV4 will deal with most situations easily.
There's no getting away from the fact the RAV4 is a large car and it feels it out on the road. When cornering, there is a fair amount of body roll compared to other, more sports-orientated rivals. It can feel like a heavy car if pushing on, but as mentioned above, it's best to take everything easily in the RAV4. This way, the supple springs offer a comfortable ride to occupants, and the Toyota turns into an excellent long distance cruiser. It will level off motorway undulations with ease, and the steering weightens up nicely. At lower speeds, the steering is light but precise, meaning it's easy enough to navigate car parks or cramped streets. Grip feels very good even in two-wheel drive specification, and the RAV4 dealt with a crossing some fields and farm tracks with barely a shrug.
Toyota's designers are doing things their own way, and while it might not be everyone's cup of tea, I reckon the RAV4 looks great. It's the most stand out model generation since the original came along, and for a sensible family SUV, the creases, bold shapes, and cuts make the Toyota look interesting. Interior space is a real strength for the RAV4, with those prioritising practicality prompted towards a gander at the Toyota. There's easily enough space for five adults in the rear, with head, shoulder, and leg space excellent across the rear three seats. The floor is almost flat in the back to help things there, and even six-footers front and rear will have no complaints. Visibility is pretty good all-round, and there are parking cameras and sensors fitted to all models. Boot space is superb, and larger than a number of rivals. It's a practical shape as well, and there's effectively a flat floor to load on to.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The interior is a bit of a different take on a cabin compared to much of the rest of the Toyota range - though not hugely so. There are some great features that distinguish the RAV4 from the crowd, such as the large, chunky, rubber-wrapped dials for controlling the air conditioning and smaller versions found on the infotainment system. They might be small elements, but they are controls that are used regularly and, as such, make quite an impression. The rest of the cabin looks good too, with one large screen controlling many of the features and creating a relatively clean-looking dashboard. The seats are comfortable throughout, further improving the RAV4’s credentials as a relaxing long-distance cruiser.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Official fuel economy figures for the two-wheel drive RAV4 are 50.4 MPG and 102 g/km CO2. Having covered more than 700 miles in my time with the RAV4, I was certainly impressed with how the Toyota performed in real world conditions. The trip computer displayed 52.1 MPG by the time the keys went back, which is a real statement as to how efficient the hybrid system is for what is a large SUV. Since there is only one choice of petrol engine, and the single option being that between two- and four-wheel drive, this model tested is the most efficient in the range. There’s no need for any other conventional powertrain type really, since a petrol wouldn’t offer much more performance but would take a big hit in economy. Conversely, a diesel would struggle to exceed the real-world efficiency of the hybrid. Only further electrification would bring additional benefits really, and Toyota’s hybrid expertise shine through.
Unsurprisingly, the hybrid powertrain is the key green system deployed in the RAV4. A small electric motor acts as a booster for the petrol engine when it’s under load. If accelerating hard or climbing hills, the motor acts as an electrified support act. It can also cover short distances by itself, but the engine will quickly take over. You can see that the RAV4 manages to complete a fair amount of miles in a trip under electric power, which is pleasantly surprising. The system will recharge the battery under braking, descending a hill, or from the engine if necessary. There is a drive mode select system to allow Eco to be deployed for additional support from the car. It affects the throttle response and transmission settings. According to our calculations, the Toyota RAV4 tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 32
There are four trim levels - Icon, Design, Excel, and Dynamic - the last of which was the specification tested. Standard across all trims are 17-inch alloys, automatic wipers and lights, rear privacy glass, Toyota Touch 2 infotainment system, rear view camera, LED headlights, and rear parking sensors. It’s a good standard of basic kit, but top of the range Dynamic trim adds 18-inch alloys, front parking sensors, keyless entry and start, powered tailgate, heated steering wheel and front seats, leather upholstery, improved safety kit, sports seats, and bi-tone metallic paint. Options include a premium JBL stereo, panoramic rear view camera, and opening panoramic sunroof.
The RAV4 is a practical family SUV that has a number of attributes that indicate its a good car. A comfortable ride, good levels of refinement, decent performance, and lots of space tick a number of boxes. The surprising thing for me was that the RAV4 has recaptured some of the character of its previous generations. It’s a car that appeals on more than just a practical level, and the Toyota is a fun car to drive and live with.
Model tested: Toyota RAV4 2.5 Hybrid Dynamic 2WD
Engine / CO2: 218hp petrol hybrid / 102 g/km
Trim grades: Icon, Design, Excel, and Dynamic
On-road price: From £30,485. Price as tested:£35,250
Warranty: Five years / 100,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars