Let’s be honest. The original Rav 4 from way back when was, to be frank, rather ugly. It was originally based on the Corolla platform and really exactly what it was called. A sedan with a slightly higher ground clearance disguised in a sort of an SUV-like shell. It was different and also economical; therefore it sold by the millions.
After a couple of years, nearly 2 decades, Toyota has emerged from the shed with this great looking vehicle. It looks modern, it looks futuristic, but it is also following a trend of all the other Japanese vehicles and that is the sharp angles and spaceship-looking body. I have to hand to them though, the Rav4 is rather pretty.
Our model we have here is the entry level, bottom of the range 2.0gx manual. This means that Toyota has left all the nice bits for the more expensive models and given this GX the hand me downs; or have they? The way I see it is that this GX is so well specced, you don’t really need much more than this. It has your electric windows, power steering, reverse parking sensors and even a touch screen multimedia unit, which has integrated Bluetooth for calls. The volume and sound of the stereo is also pretty impressive. If you like your car audio, this will not disappoint and is as good as what you are going to get in this price bracket for a compact utility vehicle.
The interior is cloth and the seats are 3 way adjustable, the rear obviously has ISOFIX connectors and also a little bit of space underneath them. The multifunction steering features controls for you stereo as well as you on-board computer, which will report back driving data, in real time.
Get in, close the door and start your engines. On a first note, the clutch on the 2.0Gx is very light; almost too light for a big heavy manly left leg. I do believe that our female counterparts would find this to their liking. Working my way through the 6 speed gearbox is quick and effortless, but with a small low torque engine, you sometimes need to keep things on the boil and this is where the Rav surprised me. The 107kw engine likes to be revved, and this is also apparent with the peak power being delivered at 6700Rpm. The torque is a little on the low side, but still pretty good 187nm at 3600rpm. Variable valve timing is rather noticeable with the engine note becoming a little angrier as the revs climb. Sounds sort of hot hatch like, if you know what I mean.
The fuel economy we averaged was a rather good 7.5l/100km and the worst, after some enthusiastic driving, as up to 8.8l/100km; with a tank size of 60l, this will give you a decent range on the open road.
While the Rav is only a 2wd, I found that its gravel road performance was rather impressive and even at higher speeds the stability was still excellent. Don’t get me wrong, it won’t perform like the AWD variants, but still very well for a 2wd vehicle running on a sedan-like suspension with the Mcpherson front struts and the torsion beam rear setup. It did a real job of soaking up the bumps on the more corrugated gravel roads and handled everything with ease.
From the safety point, the Rav is fitted with dual front airbags, side curtain airbags and also a driver knee airbag. Anti-lock braking, as well as electronic brake assist, vehicle stability control and electronic traction control are all standard.
I can’t really think of anything to fault the Rav4 on, besides the light clutch. It does everything so well and is very spacious on the inside. It’s almost deceiving from the outside. I strongly believe Toyota has a very competent compact utility here and my predictions are that it is going to sell very well. Especially at the nearly give away price of R279 000
For more info, head on over to Toyota.co.za