The Toyota RAV4 is a much loved vehicle that plays a role in many Australian’s lives – whether it’s the family vehicle, the retirement tourer or the favoured mode of transport for the young, adventurous couple. In fact, the RAV4 is the first SUV to reach 250,000 sales in Australia (no mean feat considering it only surpassed 10,000 sales in 2001), including an all-time high of 18,435 sales in 2015 – proving that not only is it the best SUV’s of all time, but its relevance is still profound 22 years after its introduction to Australia. In December last year, Toyota unveiled an arguably overdue all-new RAV4 – improving its design, capability, safety and technology – all of which will only further fuel RAV4 sales growth in 2016.
On test recently was the top-of-the-range AWD Cruiser with 2.5L petrol engine producing 132kW of power @ 6,000rpm and 233Nm of torque @ 4,100rpm. The engine is mated with a 6 speed automatic transmission. The drive is surprisingly quiet thanks to the improved thickness and coverage of insulation, resulting in reduced tyre and road noise. The overall feel of the drive is one of stability and comfort with a planted stance on all road conditions. The RAV4 also benefits from Toyota’s Dynamic Torque Control AWD ensuring that torque is distributed between front and rear wheels in accordance with current road and driving conditions. The RAV4 Cruiser also has Active Cruise Control, ECO mode monitoring, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high beams and fog lamps to improve the driving experience. Our test model averaged about 10.8L/100km in fuel consumption.
The incremental design changes to the RAV4’s exterior mean that its signature upright, small, box DNA is completely eliminated – to the point where all week I was met with people saying “That’s not really a RAV4 is it?” Instead, the RAV4 now boasts a bolder, slimline design incorporating an aggressive, lower grille, svelte LED headlights and 18” alloy wheels. The design upgrade continues inside with leather accents, functional layout without compromising aesthetics and in the Cruiser a choice of black, tan and beige colour schemes – our test vehicle being the classic black. The driver’s seat is slide, recline, height, cushion and lumbar adjustable and the steering wheel is tilt and telescopic adjustable, ensuring optimal comfort is achieved for any shape and size of driver. Both front seats also benefit from heating for those chilly winter mornings.
The driver’s display houses all the usual information in an easy to navigate and easy to read format while the central display is reserved for the dual-zone climate control air-conditioning and infotainment screen. The 6.1” screen is home to the satellite navigation system and audio system boasting 11 speakers, AM/FM/DAB tuner, MP3 compatibility, single disc CD player, USB input, Toyota Link and Bluetooth capabilities. There are now a total of three 12V accessory sockets, including one in the rear seats for children’s electronics. As expected with a car of this calibre, the RAV4 Cruiser’s display also features a reverse camera and there is also keyless entry with push button start on the Cruiser variant.
Building on these safety features, the Toyota RAV4 AWD Cruiser has blind spot monitoring, front parking sensors, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Departure Warning. On board is also a pre-collision safety system that identifies scenarios where a crash may be possible and even automatically apply brakes. The usual long list of three letter acronyms are packed into the safety features of the RAV4 including DAC (Downhill Assist Control). There are also 3 child-restraint anchorage points. With proper trailer brakes fitted, the Cruiser AWD has a towing capacity of 1,500kg.
Ultimately, the update of the Toyota RAV4 has brought it back up to date with other competitors – which is vital in such a competitive market. With a re-design, new technology and enhanced driving capabilities, the RAV4 is poised to capitalise on strong sales figures this coming year. From $49,035* the AWD Cruiser sits somewhere in the middle when it comes to pricing amongst its competitors yet still represents value for money, reliability and now full of 21st century technology, safety and design. Without a doubt, the new Toyota RAV4 will service a whole new generation of Australian’s adventuring and family needs.
*all prices are drive-away for postcode 2000 and are subject to change.