Toyota RAV4 driving

Toyota RAV4 review (2019-2023)

The RAV4 is a mid-size SUV with lots of space for the family. It’s built to last and likely to be completely dependable. Running costs are low, particularly for hybrid-powered models.

Pros

  • Low running costs
  • Spacious interior
  • Excellent relaibility

Cons

  • No seven-seat option
  • Engine can be noisy
  • No diesel option

Summary

"The Toyota RAV4 SUV provides lots of space, comfort and safety in a car that’s a convenient size."

The Toyota RAV4 SUV provides lots of space, comfort and safety in a car that’s a convenient size. It’s reliable, easy to drive and the popular hybrid models have particularly low running costs.

A long-time favourite of British drivers, this latest generation of RAV4 was launched in 2019 and given a refresh in 2022. It offers the same qualities that made the older models so popular, but every element of the car was rethought and redesigned to make it better. It’s slightly bigger and more spacious than earlier cars, and is only available with hybrid power – both full-hybrid and plug-in hybrid models are offered.

What's the interior like?

"Five adults will fit easily on comfortable and supportive seats."

The Toyota RAV4 looks rugged on the outside and feels it inside, with a solid and well-built interior, albeit without a particularly premium feel to the materials. All models come with lots of equipment, including a wide-screen digital display for the driver instead of conventional dials.

You and your passengers have lots of space. Five adults will fit easily on comfortable and supportive seats. There’s more than enough space, then, for children of all ages, including young ones in bulky child seats. The boot is big enough for four large suitcases and there’s extra storage space under the floor.

Unlike some rivals, there's no seven-seat option, and there's no diesel option either – just a full-hybrid petrol model, or a more powerful plug-in hybrid version. Both front-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive models are available.

What's it like to drive?

"The RAV4 feels safe and composed through corners."

The latest RAV4 is only available with hybrid power – a 2.5-litre petrol engine backed up by an electric motor. You can choose from a full-hybrid model or a plug-in hybrid version, which has more power and will manage up to 46 miles of electric-only driving on a full battery. This could save you lots of fuel for short journeys, but it's more expensive to buy. There's no diesel model, which could be a deal-breaker if you do a lot of longer journeys.

All RAV4s have an automatic transmission, and while the plug-in hybrid model is more sprightly, both will get up to motorway speeds quickly. The full-hybrid model can be a bit noisy when it's worked hard. If you live in an area where the road or weather conditions are often poor, it’s worth considering the four-wheel-drive models.

The driving experience isn't as agile as you'll get from rivals like the Ford Kuga or Seat Ateca, but it feels safe and composed through corners.

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

"The RAV4 costs a bit more to buy than other SUVs of a similar size but it tends to be better equipped."

The RAV4 costs a bit more to buy than other SUVs of a similar size like the Ford Kuga and Honda CR-V but it tends to be better equipped. When the RAV4 came out there weren't many cars of this type available with hybrid power, although rivals have since caught up. This means that for older cars it stands tall, but there are other decent options if you're looking at a more recent model.

According to official figures, the RAV4 can achieve average fuel economy of more than 51mpg. Drive carefully and you should get pretty close to that. CO2 emissions are low as well, so car tax won’t cost much. The plug-in hybrid model's real-world fuel economy will depend on how you use it – keep the battery charged and do mostly short journeys and a tank of fuel will last for ages, but do longer joruneys where the petrol engine does most of the work, and the fuel economy will drop considerably.

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Which one is best for you?

All RAV4s come very well equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which means you don't need to use Toyota's somewhat outdated infotainment system. Most models have sat nav and a rear view camera too. Top of the range models add desirable features like heated leather seats and a sunroof, as well as a ‘surround view’ camera system, which shows a bird’s eye view of the car to make parking much easier.

While the RAV4 isn't really a proper off-roader, the four-wheel-drive models provide extra reassurance that may be valuable if you live in the countryside. The PHEV model is more accomplished – potentially more economical, quieter and more relaxing to drive, but it will cost you a premium over the full-hybrid model.

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