Launched in 1994, the Toyota RAV4 was one of the pioneers of the SUV genre that now
dominates motor vehicle sales around the world.
The acronym stands for Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive. It was a cross
between a passenger car and a four-wheel drive and quickly attracted the attention of
buyers looking for a combination of practicality and tough-ish looks.
RAV4 has grown steadily in size over the years and is now verging on being a mid-size
rather than small vehicle. Since 2010 it has been available with two-wheel drive. Sensibly
Toyota opted not to rename these versions as RAV2.
The latest (5th generation) version of RAV4 has been here since 2018 and so is probably
about midway through its life cycle.
There’s plenty of choice including five equipment levels, two engines, petrol or hybrid, and
either two- or four-wheel drive – but one engine only.
Prices range from $34,400 for an entry-level 2.0-litre petrol 2WD GX through to $52,700
for the 2.5-litre/hybrid Edge AWD. On-road costs need to be added.
Between them sits GXL, XSE and Cruiser. XSE is available only as a hybrid, the other four
get the choice of petrol-only or hybrid.
Although it’s slightly shorter and lower than the previous model, a longer wheelbase, wider
body, and longer front and rear tracks combine to make it larger overall.
Bold and squared-off lines make RAV4 look larger than it really is. The blunt-nosed grille is
slightly different depending upon variant, including blue badge trim to identify hybrids.
Cruiser and Edge variants get a panoramic sunroof.
The exterior shape takes the cabin and load areas out to the corners for maximum interior
RAV4 has the simple, practical dashboard design that we love with most functions
accessible through the infotainment touchscreen.
But it’s also got physical knobs for the most commonly-used features such as air-
conditioning and audio. The touchscreen menu is also activated through ‘real’ buttons, four
on either side of the screen.
There are plenty of different-sized storage spaces including a long shelf on the dashboard
in front of the passenger.
There’s excellent space in the rear, both in leg and headroom. Even shoulder space is
wide enough for a mid-sized adult occupant.
The rear load space is an impressive 580 litres with the rear seatbacks in place,
expandable to 1690 litres with the seats folded.
GX is the only variant to get a full-size spare wheel. All others get a space saver.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Toyota’s hybrid system shares a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine with a
battery-powered electric motor at the front axle in the 2WD version and another for the
rear axle with the AWD.
They have combined maximum outputs of 160 kW for 2WD variants and 163 kW for AWD
Petrol-only GX, GXL and Cruiser variants are powered by a new-design 2.0-litre four-
cylinder engine with 127kW and 203Nm, with 2WD and CVT. Top-spec Edge petrol gets
AWD as well as a new 152 kW / 243 Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine that drives through a
conventional eight-speed automatic.
The AWD system in Edge features a multi-terrain select system that offers different modes
for mud and sand, rock and dirt and snow.
Standard safety features across the RAV4 range include seven airbags, front and rear
parking sensors, blind spot monitor, rear-cross traffic alert, reversing camera, and ABS
with vehicle stability control and active cornering assist.
Also standard in all models is the latest Toyota Safety Sense package which adds a pre-
collision safety system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, emergency steering assist,
active cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane change assist with
deceleration assist, road sign assist, door exit warning and automatic high beam.
RAV4 uses a fairly unexciting 8.0-inch touchscreen, but one that – importantly for the
driver – is relatively easy to use and so reduces the amount of time taken from looking
ahead. We’d expect the next upgrade to get the impressive 10.5-inch high-definition
screen that debuted in the recently-launched Corolla Cross
The most recent upgrade to RAV4, in April 2022, added the latest version of the Toyota
Connected Services app-based communications system. Owners can remotely check the
status of the doors and lights, access information such as the vehicle’s last known location
and recent trips, or start the engine or climate control.
There’s a semi-digital instrument cluster with a 4.2-inch with Multi Information Display in
front of the driver in GX and GXL. The XSE, Cruiser and Edge step up to a 7.0-inch
Satellite navigation is optional in the GX and standard on all other variants.
There are five USB-C ports, three in the front and two in the rear.
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and digital radio are all standard with a wireless smartphone
charger on GXL and higher models.
GX, GXL and XSE have a six-speaker audio system. Cruiser and Edge get a nine-speaker
JBL premier unit.
Our RAV4 test vehicle was the second-highest Cruiser variant with the hybrid powertrain
and all-wheel drive.
It has a solid feel that’s more like that of a full-size SUV than a small-to-mid sized one. It’s
smooth and quiet on most roads and cruises comfortably at 110 km/h on motorways with a
minimum of stress on the engine and transmission.
The engine is sharp off the mark with the first few metres using electricity from the hybrid
battery. Similarly, overtaking takes a minimum of distance with both engine and battery
working in unison.
Fuel consumption is impressively low, especially in the hybrids with listed numbers around
4.7L/100 km, but also in the petrol-only models (6.0L/100 km in the 2.0-litre and 7.0 in the
We found ourselves sitting in the 5-7 litres per 100 range around town in the Cruiser
hybrid, dropping to 4-5 litres on the open road and motorways.
Handling is quite responsive with little free play before the steering kicks in. Changes of
direction are handled without too much fuss. It’s not sports car but it’s not meant to be –
and owners are well-aware of this.
The latest in a long line of Toyota RAV4s is quite different from the earliest models of
years gone by. But it has been changed according to buyers’ needs and certainly
deserves a place on your short list.
AT A GLANCE
2.0 GX 2WD Petrol: $34,400
2.5 GX 2WD Hybrid: $36,900
2.0 GXL 2WD Petrol: $37,950
2.5 GXL 2WD Hybrid: $40,450
2.5 XSE 2WD Hybrid: $43,250
2.0 Cruiser 2WD Petrol: $43,250
2.5 Cruiser 2WD Hybrid: $45,750
2.5 GX AWD Hybrid: $ $39,900
2.5 GXL AWD Hybrid: $43,450
2.5 XSE AWD Hybrid: $46,250
2.5 Cruiser AWD Hybrid: $48,750
2.5 Edge AWD Petrol: $50,200
2.5 Edge AWD Hybrid: $52,700
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Toyota dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Toyota RAV4 Cruiser 2.5-litre petrol / electric hybrid five-door wagon)
Capacity: 2.487 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 131 kW @ 5700 rpm
Maximum Torque: 221 Nm @ 3600 rpm
Fuel Type: 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 4.8 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 109 g/km
DRIVELINE: Continuously variable
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4600 mm
Wheelbase: 2690 mm
Width: 1855 mm
Height: 1685 mm
Turning Circle: 11.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 1745 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 55 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres