Toyota RAV4 is an impressive all-rounder

·4-min read
The Toyota RAV4 PHEV
The Toyota RAV4 PHEV

The Toyota RAV4 has been a huge sales success since its introduction in the mid-1990s.

Back then, it was considered to be the first compact crossover SUV but – as manufacturers followed suit – it was no mean feat to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

True to form, the latest RAV4 line-up, complete with plug-in hybrid technology for the first time, is right ‘on message’ in today’s motoring climate.

And while it might be on the pricey side when compared to its predecessors, you get a lot of car for your money.

Good looks, a high-quality interior, lots of tech and an excellent powertrain combine to make the RAV4 PHEV an impressive package.

York Press: The Toyota RAV4 PHEV
York Press: The Toyota RAV4 PHEV

My test car was powered by a 2.5-litre petrol engine mated to an 18.1kWh battery and a pair of electric motors.

Together, the powertrain puts out a combined 302hp, which means the sprint from a standing start to 62mph can be achieved in just six seconds.

That feels very swift for a vehicle of this size, with the instantly available burst of power proving really useful when overtaking on B-roads or entering a motorway on the sliproad.

However, with economy in mind, you might want to save those heavy bursts of acceleration for when they’re really needed. Official figures suggest the RAV4 can deliver a combined 282.5mpg and carbon emissions of 22g/km, although you’re only likely to get anywhere near those statistics if you keep the car charged up all the time and drive mostly on electric power.

In real world driving, the powertrain felt at its best when the electric motors were supporting the combustion engine, but it’s worth noting that a button allows you to save the electric charge for the most appropriate circumstances, such as stop-start driving around a busy town.

The electric part of the powertrain is impressive in its own right, providing an EV-only driving range of 46 miles and being capable of running at speeds of up to 84mph with no intervention from the petrol engine.

In terms of handling, the RAV4 is sure-footed in all circumstances as all-wheel drive comes as standard. The steering could do with a little more ‘feel’ and there’s a bit of body roll to look out for when cornering swiftly but, generally speaking, it’s a car that is composed on the road and inspires confidence.

When it comes to looks, the RAV4 has an eye-catching front end, with the distinctive grille fanning outwards towards the bottom, creating an intriguing triangular effect.

York Press: The Toyota RAV4 PHEV
York Press: The Toyota RAV4 PHEV

The overall silhouette is athletic and purposeful, while black roof rails, dual exhaust pipes and a black rear spoiler all add to the dynamic appearance.

During a 400-mile round journey to take in a football match, we came to really appreciate the comfort and refinement of the cabin and, tellingly, didn’t feel weary at the end of such a long stint in the car.

The smart and comfortable upholstery combines with a decent amount of on-board kit, with all the main controls are within easy reach.

The nine-inch touchscreen is a user-friendly piece of tech, controlling the Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system with smartphone integration including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The six-speaker sound system is good quality, while you get nice little extras such as wireless phone charging, heated front and rear seats, and remote dual zone air conditioning.

The driver’s higher seating position offers a commanding view of the road ahead, while there’s plenty of adjustment for both front seat occupants, plus no shortage of room in the back.

York Press: The Toyota RAV4 PHEV
York Press: The Toyota RAV4 PHEV

The cabin is well insulated from wind and tyre roar, while even the CVT transmission is smoother and better mannered than that seen on some previous models.

With all the above factored in, it's as good a vehicle that you can find in this segment – but that kind of quality doesn't come cheap.

This Dynamic version of the PHEV costs £42,650 on the road, while the top spec Dynamic Premium version comes in at £46,150.

The Lowdown: Toyota RAV4 PHEV Dynamic

0-62MPH: 6 seconds
TOP SPEED: 112mph
PRICE: £42,650 on the road
ENGINE: 2.5-litre petrol with electric motor
TRANSMISSION: CVT with four-wheel drive
EMISSIONS: 22g/km
ECONOMY: 282.5mpg

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