Do I not like Orange ?
It hardly seems possible that the Rav4 has been around since 1994, the year the World Cup hit the USA in an attempt to popularise ‘soccer’ in North America. England of course, weren’t there falling in the qualifiers to the Dutch, due to a combination of poor refereeing decisions & an elbow in England’s best player Paul Gascoignes face, that saw him play a la ‘Phantom of the Opera ‘ masked , allowing Holland to claim a draw at Wembley having been 2-0 down.
Over 150,000 Rav4’s have been sold in the UK & it arguably began the European craze for soft roaders which now accounts for 18% of European car sales. The fourth generation is in keeping with customers needs, being larger, better equipped, more comfortable, attractive & of a higher build quality than what went before. It needs to do all of these things & more in a market that every franchise has entered in recent years.
As with the new Auris, Toyota have recognised that customers are looking for an attractive car both inside & out something Toyotas of old lacked. I really liked the dash design part finished in leather, the 3 dial instrument binnacle , the easy to use SatNav & clearly laid out steering wheel controls.
The Icon sits between the Active & Invincible within the Rav4 range & should prove to be the most popular choice & with a list of standard equipment that includes dusk sensing headlights, rain sensing wipers, all around electric windows, cruise control, a power tailgate, dual zone climate control, DAB digital tuner,auto dimming rear view mirror, front & rear armrests, Touch & Go 6.1 inch touchscreen six speaker audio system, Bluetooth( easy to use ) a USB port, Aux in socket & a rear view camera.
On the outside, the Rav looks more aggressive than it’s predecessors, with an almost Lexus RX look about it. Heated retractable door mirrors, rear privacy glass, 18 ” alloys, front fogs & LED daytime running lights are all standard on the Icon.
Start the engine & the 2.2 diesel can be clearly heard, engage first gear & the Rav moves forward smoothly with a nice light clutch & easy to find gear selection. On smaller roads the Rav is surprisingly quiet & comfortable & feels like your driving a smaller car altogether. Motorway speeds are also no problem for the Rav & once in cruise mode I just sat back & watched the world go by. The front & rear suspension shows off the Rav & it’s most definitely soft roading at it’s best.
As with my recent Mazda CX5 the Rav achieved an okay 35 mpg for me, when the claimed is 56.5 mpg on the combined. CO2 emissions are 149g /km putting it in a good position for company car drivers.
Other equipment on the Rav which enhances safety & handling includes front, side & curtain airbags, 2 Isofix mounts, ABS, with EBD & brake assist, traction control, Vehicle Stability, Control Plus, Active Torque Control & something called Integrated Dynamic Drive with Sport mode. Suffice to say you feel safe inside the Rav’s cocooned cabin where it’s clear to me that Toyotas designers may have had a coffee with their Lexus counterparts.
The inside of the car feels cavernous , with loads of room for 5 adults, a 547 litre boot plus 100 litres in an eat & tidy under compartment where I kept my shopping in the recent war m weather @ with all the 3 rear seats individually folded you’ve 1,746 litres to play with enough for at least a couple of bikes laid down side by side.
What the Rav has definitely achieved is the fun factor & when compared to most of it’s competitors this is almost a first in this sector. Only Mazdas CX5 & Hondas CRV come close to the Rav & driving like a ‘car’ . It even manages to trounce the Germans in this respect too.
Whether driving to the shops, or cruising to a camp site in North Wales, the Rav4 shatters the convention of sluggish SUV’s of old & it’s this drivability that marks it out from the crowd.
An easy call. 4/5.