The Toyota RAV4 has finally come of age, writes David Bonnici
Since it first appeared on our roads about 20 years ago, the RAV4 has been through a variety of incarnations that seemed to at first appeal to ’90s gym junkies before moving on to soccer mums.
Toyota started getting the look right in 2013 and the 2016 facelift hits the spot, comparing well with its sharp looking competitors.
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I like its aggressive angular looks, particularly at the front – the white car I test drove kinda looked like a Star Wars stormtrooper.
Gone are the compact short-wheel-base RAV4s of days past. This is quite a decent-sized car.
OUR WHITE RAV4 TEST CAR KINDA LOOKS LIKE A STORMTROOPER. PICTURE: DAVID BONNICI
At the top of the tree is the RAV4 Cruiser which at about $50,000 is on the pricey side yet is chock-full of safety features and gadgetry usually found in premium SUVs with extra digits in their prices.
Inside, the RAV4 dashboard looks good but some of the switches are obscured by the steering wheel and a lip that runs along the dashboard.
The Cruiser has a 6.1-inch multimedia touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard and a 4.2-inch trip computer display in the instrument panel that liven things up a bit.
The trip computer is straight out of a Lexus, with heaps of information ranging from fuel economy to a sway warning that warns about fatigue if the car senses you driving slightly erratically.
Other active safety features include radar cruise control, lane departure alert, auto emergency braking, automatic high-beam and rear cross-traffic warning.
Storage at the front of the roomy cabin is good and includes a decent centre console locker, space to put your phone and keys and a sunglass holder above the windscreen.
The power-adjusted, heated leather front seats are nice and firm with terrific back support. The back seats are very comfortable for two adults and offer plenty of leg and headroom.
The middle seat would be tight for another adult but shouldn’t pose any issues for kids. The back seat has the usual fold down armrest in the centre, complete with two cup holders. This is more than enough car for an average-sized family.
The cargo area is quite big. The rear seats fold completely flat in a 60/40 split to provide a cargo floor space of 1.8 metres – enough for most of us to sleep outstretched. The Cruiser comes with A powered tailgate.
On the road
This isn’t a small vehicle but the 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine pushes it along pretty well.
It’s got an ECO mode for city driving and there’s a sports mode to be selected when you can sense this car chomping at the bit. Just touch the accelerator at the lights and you’re off.
Fuel economy isn’t too bad for a 1.6-tonne vehicle – I averaged about 8.1 litres/100 kilometres. There is a turbo diesel version that will do a couple of litres less.
Being all-wheel-drive, the car has a nice feel on the road and handles rough roads and fields nicely, too. Even in the rough stuff, it felt stable and comfortable – even at speed.
The RAV4 Cruiser is a very safe car, with a suite of active safety features including radar cruise control and trip computer with a heap of different fuel consumption settings.
The RAV4 Cruiser shows just how much one of the original SUVs has come of age.
The RAV4 range starts at $31,654 drive away, with the 2.5-litre petrol Cruiser priced at $48,676