It’s been 25 years since the first Toyota Rav4 made its appearance and was the SUV in many instances a pioneer for the sports utility vehicle. There were already other vehicles on sale at the time that saw to the needs of those wanting a vehicle that can act as sedan, bakkie and hatchback – all in one – but it was the Rav4 with its go-anywhere design and personality that really hit the mark. Over the next two and a half decades the Rav4 would grow and mature into this all-new model and is it quite a departure from what we’ve come to know of this vehicle.
Sporting a bold new face, the design of the Rav4 reminds strongly of that of the CH-R. Toyota refers to its latest design language as ‘progressive’ and we have to agree given the markedly differently look the Rav4 boasts with. The lines adorning the car are much more angular and sharper, in an attempt to make the SUV standout from the crowd. Thankfully, like that very first Rav4 of 1994, this new model does not only rely on its Toyota badge to attract attention, but the design does it part, as well.
Built on Toyota’s TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform, the Rav4 is the first of the automaker’s SUVs to benefit from this new underpinning. TNGA brings with it the advantage of a lower centre of gravity and engineers not having to spring the suspension stiffly in an attempt to get a good ride quality. The SUV features independent front suspension and a double wishbone rear suspension to provide a sturdy drive. Despite being 5mm shorter than the outgoing model, the new one sees width increase by 10mm, a longer wheelbase (+30mm), and a best-in-class loading bay of 580L (+79L). The latter, of course, increases when the rear seats are folded down.
Powering Toyota’s new SUV is a choice of two naturally-aspirated engines. The 2.0-litre develops 127kW and 203Nm of torque, while the 2.5-litre is good for 152kW and 243Nm. The latter is only available in AWD guise. Toyota says that the revised engines now offer improved fuel economy, as well as performance gains in various driving conditions. On the AWD models, both the 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre, the drive mode selector ensures that the system automatically adjusts different aspect of the vehicle, such as braking, steering, and throttle control for ideal performances in the different conditions. Sending power to the wheels can be done via either a six-speed manual gearbox, a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), or the new eight-speed automatic transmission. The eight-speed is mated to the 2.5-litre model only, while the 2.0-litre has the option of the aforementioned two ‘boxes.
The new Toyota Rav4 does not skimp on safety and did the Japanese automaker ensure that its new SUV is well-kitted with regards to this very important aspect. All models are fitted, amongst others, with seven airbags – including knee and curtain airbags – brake assist, vehicle stability control (VSC), hill assist control (HAC), and trailer sway control (TSC). On the top-spec VX models Toyota introduces, for the first time on its Rav4, adaptive cruise control (ACC), lane departure alert (LDA), and blind-spot monitor (BSM); to mention a few. And for those keen on doing hands full of shopping whenever the urge arises, all models are fitted with a power-operated tailgate with hands-free function.
The Toyota Rav4 has, and will always be, a favourite amongst local car buyers and this new model will undoubtedly be another stellar success for the automaker.
Range and pricing:
• RAV4 2.0 GX MT 2WD – R 416 400
• RAV4 2.0 GX CVT 2WD – R 427 600
• RAV4 2.0 GX-R CVT AWD – R508 100
• RAV4 2.0 VX CVT 2WD – R505 400
• RAV4 2.5 VX 8AT AWD – R577 900
All models carry a six-services/90 000km service plan with 12-month/15 000km intervals. A three-year/100 000km Warranty is also included.
Article: Charlen Raymond