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All Ravved Up, Many Places To Go!
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
There has been a Toyota RAV4 in our family since 1999. Our first, an original five-door GX, provided excellent all-weather family transport for five years or so. Of appeal was the raised driving position, great build quality and the fact that it was fun to chuck around the country lanes.

It was replaced with a newer 2001 model as we desired air conditioning for those sweltering Yorkshire summers and anti-lock brakes for wet and wintery conditions.

That car still sits on our driveway today. It looks good, drives well and has been the most reliable car that I have ever owned – and I’ve owned a lot of cars…

We suffered our first breakdown last year and I suspect the seized brake calliper was due to lack of use. Impressive stuff.

As our RAV4 rapidly approaches its twentieth birthday, thoughts of its replacement loom large. This brings me nicely on to the latest incarnation, which has been my main mode of transport this last week. Is this the car we should upgrade to and keep for a decade or two?

My week behind the wheel would prove to be a stern test as not only was there the usual local running around to do, but a quick trip to London was also on the cards.

The latest RAV4 is a much bigger car and this pays dividends when it comes to passenger space. Four or five generously proportioned adults will now fit, with head and legroom to spare. That’s would not the case with our oldie.
Soft curves have been replaced by crisper lines – more modern, yes, but prettier, maybe not…

With diesel now out of favour and no longer available in the RAV, I was curious to see how the 2.5-litre petrol engine/battery combo would fare in this new supersize model.

Toyota has after all been at the forefront of hybrid technology, with plenty of opportunity to hone and refine their skills in the various Prius incarnations that continue to ply our roads. Minicab anyone?

The engine is mated to an electric CVT gearbox and I must confess to having had a few reservations. Whilst CVT transmissions offer smoothness, brisk acceleration usually brings with it a surfeit of engine noise as the motor and gearbox synchronise.

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I am pleased to report that my test car proved to be a most refined travelling companion, with engine noise well muted and only intruding when full acceleration was called for. Excellent sound deadening clearly must help.
The transmission has three modes; eco, normal and sport. There seemed little to choose between the first two, whilst sport did noticeably improve sprinting ability.

All-wheel drive is an option which was fitted to my test car and with Toyota’s enviable reputation for building capable off-roaders, I took the RAV4 for a gentle excursion off the black stuff.

With no special tyres, the able Toyota tackled rutted tracks, mud and the dreaded wet grass. All obstacles were tackled with ease which came as no surprise.

What did, however, was how economical the RAV proved to be. My London trip, M1 south and A1 north, with plenty of traffic-choked city roads in between yielded and impressive 51mpg and when the car departed after some 600 miles in total, the trip computer read 50.3mpg.

I should at this point mention that Toyota quotes 47.8-48.7mpg for the combined economy under the new stringent WLTP testing regime and I am not renown for having a gentle right foot!

Looking back at my notes, the previous generation diesel RAV4 I tested a few years ago recorded a little over 40mpg in my hands. I should also mention that our cherished 2001 model, petrol-powered, struggles to break 30mpg…

If this is the future of greener motoring, we have little to fear.

So, what else can I tell you about this new RAV4? Equipment levels are high, build quality is top notch and there is a distinct improvement in the quality of the materials used in the interior.

I can’t say I found the silver exterior/black interior combination especially inspiring, but more vibrant hues are of course available.

Toyota now offer a five-year warranty, which I doubt you will need as the marque regularly scores highly in customer reliability surveys.

As a long-term ownership proposition therefore, this latest RAV4 appears to tick all the right boxes and may just be that worthy replacement for our old stager. Time to do the sums.

FAST FACTS

Toyota RAV4 Excel AWD
Price £36,155 OTR
2,487cc petrol engine
Transmission – electric CVT
Total hybrid system output 219bhp
0-62mph in 8.1 seconds
Top speed 112mph
Combined economy 47.8-49.7mpg (WLTP)
Emissions 103g/km CO2
Insurance group 30A
Servicing 10,000 miles/annually
Boot capacity 580 litres

All Ravved Up, Many Places To Go!, 27th August 2019, 19:30 PM