The Toyota Rav4, a pioneer in the family SUV segment, unveils its fifth generation. It undergoes a complete transformation, from its platform and body to its interior. This update also includes a shift in its powertrain, with the complete abandonment of diesel engines and an exclusive focus on hybrid options.
A Comfortable Cabin
While the overall finish of the new Rav4’s interior is nearly flawless, with well-assembled high-quality materials, its layout may not win everyone over. In various areas, multiple elements made of different materials are intricately put together, resulting in a complex design. The dashboard is heavily sculpted, angular, and often quite busy, mirroring the exterior’s angular elements. This design choice sets it apart from the competition, which tends to favor a more conventional look.
However, the interior also suffers from some ergonomic flaws. The absence of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto systems is regrettable, as these features allow users to display their smartphone content on the multimedia screen. The new Rav4 does offer connected services through the new MyT application, which provides various functionalities such as continued navigation on a smartphone for pedestrian guidance (Car to door), sending routes to the car (Send to Car), and locating the vehicle (Find my Car), among others. Unfortunately, the screen is not user-friendly due to complicated controls. Some functions can be accessed through the touchscreen, while others require the use of buttons located on either side. Getting used to this navigation style may take some time and practice.
On the bright side, the cabin is pleasant and offers a spacious feel in the front. The rear seating area is also roomy, and the three seats provide ample comfort and width. There are several storage spaces, although not all of them are practical, especially the small glove compartment. On the other hand, the central storage bin and the trunk offer generous volume. With 530 dm3 of space, the trunk falls within the average range for its category. However, it is disappointing that the rear bench does not fold completely flat when needed.
One standout feature is the digital rearview mirror, which displays the image captured by a camera. This solution provides a wide field of vision and is enjoyable to use. However, it requires a short adjustment period as judging distances becomes slightly more challenging. For those who prefer a traditional mirror experience, they can easily switch to the classic mirror effect. We recommend using this configuration during nighttime driving.
Behind the Wheel
We had the opportunity to drive the new Rav4 in both the two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. It’s worth noting that the four-wheel drive version will only be available in dealerships starting in May. Slightly more powerful (222 hp compared to 218 hp in the 2WD version), the 4WD model utilizes a second electric motor to drive the rear wheels. During normal road use, this architecture is hardly noticeable, and the difference in driving behavior is barely perceptible. Even fuel consumption is very similar for both powertrain options, averaging around 6.3 liters per 100 km according to the onboard computer. This is a satisfactory result considering the weight of the vehicle (1,590 kg and 1,650 kg empty). To experience differences in performance, one would need to venture onto forest trails to fully utilize the four-wheel drive capability. The 4×4 SUV performed admirably in muddy ruts, where a 2WD version would have easily gotten stuck. However, even though we were pleasantly surprised by its traction, it’s important to note that the Rav4 is not meant for serious off-roading. On wet mountain roads, the all-wheel drive capability also shines, providing superior road-holding. The 4WD version features an intelligent all-wheel drive system (AWD-i) that automatically manages power distribution between the front and rear axles to provide optimal traction in all conditions. The “Trail” mode, selectable via a button on the center console, is recommended for off-road adventures.
Once back on paved roads, we truly appreciated the comfort of the SUV. The suspension is relatively soft while still effectively controlling body roll during cornering. Bumps and speed bumps are handled well, ensuring minimal disturbance to passengers. However, this comfort comes at the expense of a slightly reduced driving sensation, exacerbated by an overly assisted steering that sometimes lacks feedback.
In urban environments, the new Rav4 is hindered by average visibility and its somewhat imposing size. However, the various aids (radars and cameras) provide valuable assistance. The Rav4 has an EV mode, which allows for operating solely on electricity for a few kilometers. Hopefully, the manufacturer will soon offer a plug-in hybrid version capable of covering longer distances, as seen in the compact Prius. The only real letdown regarding the Rav4’s driving experience is the “scooter effect” caused by its CVT gearbox. When accelerating even slightly, such as during overtaking or starting at a traffic light, there is an unpleasant sensation of slipping.
All Rav4 models come standard with the latest version of the Safety Sense system introduced in 2015. The detection range of potential hazards has been improved through advancements in the camera and front radar. Additionally, the size of the module has been reduced to enhance the driver’s field of vision. The second-generation Toyota Safety Sense includes upgraded versions of the pre-collision safety system (PCS), now capable of detecting pedestrians, as well as the intelligent adaptive cruise control (iACC), lane departure alert (LDA) with lane-keeping assist, road sign assist (RSA), and automatic high beam control (AHB). Moreover, it introduces a lane tracing assist (LTA) function. In heavy traffic, the iACC and LTA cooperate by “monitoring” the preceding vehicle, maintaining a safe distance and speed, stopping the Rav4 when necessary, and resuming smooth acceleration when traffic starts moving again.
Ratingperson’s test drive of the Toyota Rav4 confirms its status as a reliable and comfortable family SUV. With its innovative hybrid technology, impressive safety features, and spacious cabin, it’s a strong contender in its segment. To learn more about the Toyota Rav4 and other reliable car models, visit Ratingperson.