THERE can be no doubt that the impact the original Rav4 had on the SUV market was huge. The introduction of the compact three-door adventurer kick-started a segment the motoring community never knew it needed. Now, almost 20 years down the line, Toyota finds itself fighting a rather hefty list of competitors. But it does believe the new Rav4 will once again dominate the very market it created.
A lot has changed over the years and while the Rav4 has lost a lot of its adventurer charm, the Toyota crossover has slowly evolved into more of a touring-oriented vehicle, straying farther from the rugged “let’s-get-dirty” scene it once had.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because from a styling standpoint the Rav4 now embodies Toyota’s design language found on the front-end of the newly launched Auris and it does boast some rather aggressive lines. That said, despite its city slicker attire, under the skin the Rav4 does retain some of its adventurous elements and ergonomics.
Available in South Africa with a choice of three engines, the 2.2-litre diesel is the pick of the litter. Developing 110kW of power and 340Nm of torque, this smooth-revving powertrain is mated to a six-speed manual transmission and comes in all-wheel-drive guise. Toyota has found a healthy balance between power and consumption with this 2 231cc engine, as its claimed fuel consumption is a very respectable 5.6 litres/100km with of Co2 emissions of 149g/km.
The other engine derivatives on offer include the smaller 2.0-litre petrol engine, which turns out 107kW of power and can generate 187Nm of torque. The engine may be mated to a choice of six-speed manual or CVT automatic transmissions and is available exclusively in two-wheel-drive. The big daddy in the line-up is a 2.5-litre petrol motor, which has been recalibrated for the Rav4, delivering 132kW of power at 6 000rpm and 233Nm of torque at 4 100rpm.
The Rav4 has found the perfect balance of power and driveablity while its looks are also appealing and the powertrain line-up impressive.
The Toyota design team didn’t forget about the interior either. Cramming it with a host of creature comforts, including Bluetooth, a touch-screen multi-information display and keyless entry (available in VX trim) to name but a few.
On the safety front, this Toyota continues to elevate the brand with higher levels of active and passive safety. While the RAV4 hasn’t yet undergone its Euro NCAP crash test programme, the guys at Toyota believe it has what it takes to achieve a five-star rating. The new Rav4 comes standard with a 3-year/100 000km warranty and 5-year/90 000km service plan.