- Good off-road ability
- Solidly built
- Not very refined
- Interior is dated
- Not as fun to drive as rivals
Toyota’s long-running SUV is solid and spacious
The Toyota RAV4 has since its first introduction way back in 1994, been a popular choice amongst UK buyers. Back then, there wasn’t the same competition that there is today, but with SUVs now outselling regular cars, there’s an awful lot of rivals to compete with. The RAV4 offers buyers a pretty solid package. It’s not the most fun to drive, not the best-looking, nor is it the most refined, but with great build quality and Toyota’s impressive reliability record, the RAV4 is a good option for the practically-minded buyer.
The current fourth-generation RAV4, introduced in 2013, featured a complete redesign, improving the RAV4 in almost every area.
Well built, spacious, but drab
Compare to a lot of its closest rivals, the Toyota RAV4 disappoints in its interior. Everything is well-built, and designed with simplicity in mind, but it’s not as sleek, nor as high-class as you can get from other manufacturers.
The dashboard of the RAV4 is one area in which a lot of people will be disappointed. The design feels very dated, especially when you compare it to an Audi Q3 or a Nissan Qashqai. It’s durable and simple, but with so much competition, it’s a little frustrating to see the lack of effort the Toyota design team have made in the RAV4’s interior. There’s also some hard plastics to be found, though most are soft-touch, and there’s some leather flourishes here and there.
Space-wise the RAV4 impresses. The RAV4 is one of the biggest cars in its class, and with 547 litres of boot space, there’s more than enough room for day-to-day activities. Compare it with the 430 litres on offer in the Nissan Qashqai, and the RAV4 starts to look like a great option for those in need of storage capacity.
Spec levels in the RAV4 are also pretty impressive, with even the entry-level Active trim coming with air-con, electric windows and mirrors, and keyless entry. The mid-range Icon trim is probably the one to go for, and the option sat-nav is well worth considering.
Overall the RAV4 disappoints in its interior. The quality and design on show aren’t up there with the best in class, though everything is well-built and solidly put together. There’s also plenty of practical space, and spec levels are pretty decent.
Good off-road ability, average on-road
The Toyota RAV4 is one of the few cars in its class that can perform well off-road. Most buyers won’t use it for that effect however, and it’s a little bit disappointing on tarmac.
When it comes to handling ability on-road, the RAV4 may leave some drivers feeling underwhelmed. Steering is pretty decent, and there’s plenty of grip, though there’s an awful lot of understeer going into corners. The Sport button is pretty misleading as well, as at no point does the RAV4 feel even close to sporty.
Ride refinement in the RAV4 is similarly disappointing. There’s lots of body roll, which makes for a sloppy ride. It copes well with most potholes and rough surfaces, though the worst of British roads make the ride bumpy. There’s also a lot of wind and road noise at high speed, especially on motorways.
Gearbox options in the RAV4 come in two guises: a six speed manual, and a CVT automatic transmission. The manual box does the job without too much of a fuss, though the automatic on offer can make for a noisy ride, with quick bursts of acceleration leading to high revs.
Efficient diesels and eco-friendly hybrid
When it comes to deciding how you want to power your RAV4, you’ve got three options: petrol, diesel, or petrol-hybrid. It’s good to see Toyota’s hybrid technology in an SUV, but it’s not quite as impressive as it sounds.
If it’s speed you want from your RAV4, there’s not a particularly stand-out option. The quickest non-hybrid model is the top of the range 2.2 litre diesel-powered motor. With 150bhp on board, and a 0-62mph time of 9.6 seconds, you’re not going to be challenging people at the lights anytime soon. There’s enough power to get you from A-B however, and there’s more than enough grunt to tow a caravan.
For the eco-friendly buyer the stand-out option in the RAV4 is undoubtedly the petrol-hybrid engine. With 115g/km of C02 emissions, this engine is undoubtedly impressive, but it’s a little disappointing that Toyota couldn’t get those figures below the magic 100g/km mark. Nevertheless for an SUV it’s pretty impressive.
The best engine choice for money savers is the diesel-powered 2.0 D. It’s not quite as efficient as the hybrid, but it’s cheaper to buy, and is more likely to achieve better fuel efficiency in real terms. With up to 57.6mpg, and relatively low emissions of 127g/km, you can save yourself money at the pumps, and on road tax.
Whichever engine you choose to go for, there’s enough quality to keep you moving from A-B without too much of a fuss. Diesels are efficient, and the hybrid looks impressive on paper, but petrol-powered RAV4s should be avoided.
Full marks in NCAP safety tests, impressive standard equipment
Like nearly every car in its class, the RAV4 easily achieved the highest possible 5-star NCAP safety rating. With scores of 89% in adult protection, 82% in child protection, and 66% in pedestrian protections, the RAV4 scores highly. There’s also the usual array of airbags, stability control, and a tyre-pressure monitor as standard. The RAV4 really is a safe car for you and your family to be inside.
Good value for money, so long as you avoid the cost of new-car depreciation
The Toyota RAV4 offers reasonably good value for money, especially for an SUV. This obviously varies from model to model, but roughly speaking C02 emissions are average across the board, and there’s good fuel efficiency to be had, especially if you avoid petrol-powered models.
When it comes to insuring your RAV4, you may well be pleasantly surprised. It’s not the cheapest car on the market when in terms of insurance costs, but you shouldn’t be too much out of pocket. The cheapest model in the range to insure is the 2.0 D-4D Business Edition TSS, which is group 23, with the most expensive being the top of the range 2.5 VVT-i Hybrid Excel, which sits in group 34.
Depreciation is one area that particularly affects the RAV4. With first year depreciation as high as 40%, you’re better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The Toyota RAV4 is a pretty solid offering from the Japanese manufacturer, but it’s not up there with the best in the SUV class. It’s let down by poor interior design, dull handling, and disappointing ride refinement. But there’s plenty of space, efficient diesel engines, and an off-road ability that few competitors come close to.
Buying a used Toyota RAV4 online with Carspring
If you’re after a used Toyota RAV4 for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used RAV4. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used Toyota RAV4 online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used RAV4? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used Toyota RAV4, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used RAV4, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Carspring Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used Toyota to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st-year depreciation cost of 40%.