Toyota RAV4 was launched way back in 1994 as the Recreational Active Vehicle 4WD and has been a global success in the sales race ever since. It was a cross between a passenger car and an SUV and appealed to many buyers. It has grown in size over the years and is now verging on being a mid-size rather than small vehicle.

The fifth generation of the Toyota RAV4 that we are testing here is slightly shorter and lower than the gen-four. But has a wider body, sits on a longer wheelbase and has had an increase in the front and rear tracks.

Bold and squared-off lines make it look larger than it really is, the Toyota RAV4 is aimed at people who want a combination of practicality and tough – well semi-tough – looks. The shape takes the cabin and load areas out to the corners to maximise interior room.

Quality looks are similar to those of a European vehicle in this size class. The dash area works nicely and ties in neatly with the shape of the lines on the front doors.

The rear load space has been extended by 65 mm and now offers an impressive 580 litres with all seats up. It features a two-level reversible floor for added functionality, however this is not available with the full-size spare wheel option.

A large range of powertrains is on offer. Toyota RAV4 comes with 2WD, or mechanical or electric AWD systems. This time around there is no turbo-diesel option.

Toyota’s hybrid system combines a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor generator. They have combined maximum outputs of 160kW for 2WD variants and 163kW for AWD versions.

Most non-hybrid RAV4s are powered by a new-design 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 127kW203Nm, driving through a CVT automatic with a launch gear mechanism.

The RAV4 Edge AWD has a new 152 kW / 243 Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine that drives through a conventional eight-speed automatic.

The AWD system in the Edge features a multi-terrain select system that offers different modes for mud and sand, rock and dirt, and snow.

The Toyota has 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.

The RAV4 has active cruise control, pre-collision safety system with autonomous emergency braking, lane departure alert and speed sign notification).

The Toyota RAV4 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, though there’s some bump-thump on bridges with horizontal joins. Having said that it’s far from the worst we’ve felt on similar bridges.

On the motorway it’s beautifully smooth and quiet and more than happy to cruise at 110 km/h with a minimum of stress on the engine and transmission.

We suspect that if we had time to spare and taken a trip to the Northern Territory it could cover big miles at 140 to 150 km/h all day long. Maybe some other timeā€¦

There’s some tyre noise on sealed roads in the bush that have seen better days. We feel the RAV4 would be more than happy for us to travel in on extended holiday trips, sadly we didn’t have time to do something like 1000 km plus during our week in the Toyota.

The engine is very quick to respond to the throttle away from traffic as the first few metres are driven by the electricity from the hybrid’s battery. Similarly, overtaking takes a minimum of distance as both powerplants drive the car simultaneously.

Fuel consumption is impressively low, we found it sitting in the five to seven litres per hundred range around town. Dropping to four just to five 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 the RAV4 is set up correctly for the buyers it’s aimed at.

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 on a place on your short list if.


2.0 GX 2WD: $32,695 (manual), $34,695 (automatic)
2.0 GXL 2WD: $37,415 (automatic)
2.0 Cruiser 2WD: $40,915 (automatic)
2.5 Edge AWD: $48,915 (automatic)
2.5 GX Hybrid 2WD: $37,070 (automatic)
2.5 GXL Hybrid 2WD: $39,915 (automatic)
2.5 Cruiser Hybrid 2WD: $43,415 (automatic)
2.5 GX Hybrid AWD: $40,070 (automatic)
2.5 GXL Hybrid AWD: $42,915 (automatic)
2.5 Cruiser Hybrid AWD: $46,415 (automatic)
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

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

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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