When Toyota first introduced the RAV4 in 1994, the quirky newcomer, especially the two-door, although dubbed a ‘hairdresser’s’ car, quickly wormed its way into the garages of a large cross-section of the population – building on this with each successive iteration.
Now, the fifth generation brings the RAV4 into play as even more of a top end player in the growing SUV world by introducing the use of Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) for the first time, meaning for the customer this makes the car more fun to drive, while at the same time enabling design freedom inside and out, enhanced safety performance that gives greater peace of mind and more comfort for everyone on board.
The lowest possible centre of gravity is achieved by making every component lighter and locating it lower down in the vehicle – everything from the engine to the seats in the cabin. The platform also allows for a 57% increase in body rigidity, which contributes to a stable, flat ride with superior handling.
Response from the electric power steering has been improved by moving the assist motor from the column to the rack. The RAV4’s TNGA platform also distinguishes itself in its use of a double wishbone rear suspension system. Thanks to the low centre of gravity and high body rigidity, the suspension does not have to be rendered stiffer to meet dynamic targets. Handling is thus agile, faithful and neutral, giving the driver confidence with accurate responses to the driver’s use of the steering wheel and throttle pedal as well as optimised shift patterns.
While I was not able to put this to the test on the launch drive, reports from fellow motoring scribes indicate it is not all PR woffle.
The RAV4’s new design brings in angular features with a bold bumper, grille, LED headlights and tail lights and, along with its increased ground clearance and shorter front and rear overhangs, the all-new RAV4 can take on tough terrain with ease, as well as maximising the available space.
The cabin is also upmarket and soft-touch surfaces abound, including the dashboard and door panels. Switchgear is new, too, with integrated buttons and tactile controls, such as the soft-touch knurling on the audio and air-conditioning controls.
Reducing the front and rear overhangs by a combined 35 mm (-5 mm front, -30 mm rear) means the new model is shorter overall by 5 mm (4 600 mm), yet the wheelbase has been increased by 30 mm (2 690 mm), securing a more spacious cabin.
Overall width has grown by 10 mm (1 855 mm) and the front and rear treads have been increased. At the same time, overall height has been brought down by 10 mm (to 1 650 mm).
Securing better all-round visibility was a key consideration in RAV4’s design process. The TNGA platform allows the bonnet to sit 15 mm lower, the front pillars to be slimmer, whilst the belt line has been lowered and the rearward view from the driver’s seat has been improved.
Both the driver’s hip point and range of steering wheel adjustment have been improved. This, together with a generous seat adjustment range and precise positioning of the pedals and armrest, ensures more customers are able to find their ideal position when driving.
Comfort for rear seat passengers has been improved with increased seat width, more spacious rear footwells and increased opening-angle of the rear doors.
The load space behind the rear seats has been made larger and more user-friendly, notably thanks to a fully flat floor and a length extended by 60 mm to secure a capacity of 580 litres (79 litres more than in the current RAV4). Flexibility is integrated so that the space can easily be adapted to gain more cargo room when required: with the rear seats folded down, the new RAV4 can accommodate a 29-inch mountain bike without any wheels having to be removed.
The rear seats have a 60:40 split-folding function and there are storage nets on each side of the boot.
The new RAV4 is offered with a choice of two petrol engines, a 2,0-litre or 2,5-litre four-cylinder unit. The ‘Dynamic Force’ engines, both fitted with intelligent variable valve timing, deliver improved performance and a more responsive and fuel-efficient drive.
The 2,0-litre engine delivers a maximum power output of 127 kW at 6 600 r/min and peak torque of 203 Nm between 4 400 r/min and 4 800 r/min, while also offering a fuel consumption of between 6,5 – 6,8 l/100 km and C02 emissions of 147 g/km.
The flagship 2,5-litre engine produces 152 kW of power at 6 600 r/min, and peak torque of 243 Nm between 4 000 r/min and 5 000 r/min, while offering fuel consumption of 7,3 l/100km and C02 emissions of 166 g/km.
There is a choice of a 6-speed manual, Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) or an 8-speed automatic transmission. The 2,0-litre engine is paired with either the rev-matching 6-speed Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) or Shiftmatic CVT option and offered in 2WD or AWD guise (dependent on grade selected).
The Shiftmatic CVT features Toyota’s New Generation improvements including an increase to 10 pre-programmed steps (up from 7) and fixed first gear to facilitate crisper start-off acceleration.
The 2,5-litre is exclusively combined with an 8-speed Sport Direct Shift transmission.
The mechanical all-wheel-drive system is equipped with Toyota’s first dynamic torque vectoring system with Rear Driveline Disconnect. This manages torque distribution between the left and right rear wheels using twin couplings on the rear axle to give stable performance and accurate response to the driver’s steering inputs when cornering, both in dry and slippery conditions.
The new RAV4’s AWD performance is further improved with the introduction of AWD Integrated Management (AIM). This automatically adjusts different vehicle systems – steering assist, brake and throttle control, shift pattern and drive torque distribution – according to the drive mode selected. ‘Mud & Sand’ and ‘Rock & Dirt’ modes are available.
For the first time the RAV4 line-up will comprise a three-grade strategy – GX, GX-R and VX. The GX and VX grades are familiar to current owners whilst the newly added GX-R ushers in a new ‘edgier’ kind of RAV4.
The GX model forms the foundation and offers 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, LED headlights, push-button start, a 7-inch display audio and multi-information display (MID), Cruise Control, Reverse Camera and rear Park Distance Control (PDC) are also included.
The GX-R receives an enlarged upper front grille with broad horizontal slats, a larger more prominent skidplate and chunky black over-fenders as well as adding power-adjustable leather seats with lumbar support, seat heaters, leather steering wheel and trim, smart entry, auto-dimming interior mirror, rain-sensing wipers, wireless charging and climate control.
The range-topping VX is further augmented by 19-inch high-gloss alloy wheels, Auto High Beam (AHB), Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, memory seats, power-operated tailgate, Panoramic View Monitor plus front PDC.
The new RAV4 is equipped with a full suite of crash bags – including knee and curtain types – fitted to all models, with electronic driver aids in the form of anti-lock braking, EBD, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Hill Assist Control (HAC) and Trailer Sway Control all catered for.
The VX model introduces Toyota Safety Sense for the first time on RAV4, which encompasses Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Control, Blind-Spot Monitor (BSM) and Pre-Crash System (PCS).
• RAV4 2.0 GX MT 2WD – R 416 400
• RAV4 2.0 GX CVT 2WD – R 427 600
• RAV4 2.0 GX-R CVT AWD – R508 100
• RAV4 2.0 VX CVT 2WD – R505 400
• RAV4 2.5 VX 8AT AWD – R577 900
All models carry a 6-services/90 000 km service plan with 12-month/15 000 km intervals. A 3-year/100 000 km Warranty is also provided.