Toyota RAV4 Review logo

Toyota RAV4 Review

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1/10

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2019
      Body type
      Crossover
      Fuel type
      Hybrid
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Large, sturdy and economical SUV ”

Best bits

  • Huge boot will swallow pretty much anything
  • Quiet to drive in town and very cheap to run
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are fitted as standard

Not so great

  • The CVT gearbox makes the engine drone when accelerating hard
  • Parts of the interior feel very robust but not expensive
  • Well equipped, but pricey next to some alternatives

Read by

Toyota RAV4 Front Side View

Overall verdict

Toyota RAV4 Driver's Seat

On the inside

Toyota RAV4 Rear Side View

Driving

Toyota RAV4 Built-in Sat Nav

How much does it cost to run

Toyota RAV4 Bootspace

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Toyota RAV4 set the trend for the crossover way back in the 1990s, and it is still setting trends now."

Toyota RAV4 Front Side View

Its petrol hybrid powertrain offers a relaxing drive that few competitors can match, along with fuel economy that the original RAV4 could only have dreamt of.


A lot has changed since that Toyota RAV4 arrived in 1994. It’s bigger, more complicated, now limited to 2.5-litre petrol hybrid powertrain only. The competition has also changed, from non-existent to absolutely packed. Rivals include the Volkswagen Tiguan, SEAT Taracco, Skoda Kodiaq, Honda CR-V, Ford Kuga, Peugeot 5008, Nissan X-Trail and many, many more. 


Compared to those cars, the RAV4’s styling is a striking mixture of angles and creases like its body has been folded to create a giant origami model. It’s striking but also not so polarising that it’s likely to rub you up the wrong way.


There’s not much going to annoy you about the inside, either. It feels solid and is relatively easy to operate, although a Volkswagen Tiguan is posher still and more intuitive to operate. Toyota could also have integrated the infotainment display more neatly, as it is, the screen looks like a bit of an afterthought, has blocky graphics and isn’t very responsive. Also watch out for early cars that didn’t come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are now fitted as standard.


Start considering practicality and the news gets better. The RAV4 has loads of room up front and a large back seat that’ll happily sit three adults. There are numerous handy cubby spaces sprinkled around the interior that help keep it tidy and the boot is huge. You’ll get a set of suitcases in there without having to remove the parcel shelf and with the rear seats down you can fit an adult’s bike with an impressive amount of room to spare. 


What’s less impressive is the Toyota’s engine range – you get one. In fairness, though, it does a good job of offering all things to all people. It’s a hybrid with a 2.5-litre petrol engine backed up by an electric motor and a large battery.


This combination means the RAV4 can turn in praise-worthy fuel economy figures in town because most of the time it runs on silent electric power. Factor in the standard automatic gearbox and this is one of the most relaxing cars of its type if you’re driving through the city. Plus the standard reversing camera means parking the big Toyota isn’t a pain. 


On the motorway you’ll find the RAV4’s an adept cruiser. Sure, there’s the usual complaint about the engine drone under acceleration caused by the CVT automatic gearbox, but it’s relatively muted. 


Anyway, the fact that all RAV4s come with active cruise control and lane assist – so they can accelerate, brake and steer autonomously on the motorway – makes up for this. Turn off the motorway and onto a country road and the Toyota handles corners safely and predictably but if you’re looking for a more engaging SUV then you’ll be better off with the Ford Kuga. 


The RAV4 is a big practical SUV that’s very well built and back by Toyota's excellent reputation for reliability. It comes as standard with a petrol-electric hybrid engine that makes it very economical and relaxing to drive.


If you're looking for the older version, you need our Toyota RAV4 (2013-2019) review.


Is the Toyota RAV4 right for you?

If you want a family SUV with striking looks, build quality that makes a tank look fragile and an interior that’ll swallow everything a family can throw at it, the Toyota RAV4 is well worth considering,


Sure, it’s pricier than some rivals but it also comes very well equipped as standard with an eight-inch infotainment screen that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, climate control and autonomous driving aids that take the strain out of long motorway journeys. 


The RAV4’s unique selling point, however, is its petrol-electric hybrid engine which turns in impressive fuel economy and makes the Toyota a very relaxing car to drive in town. 


What’s the best Toyota RAV4 model/engine to choose?

The Toyota RAV4 is only available with one engine so the choice is easy – you’ll want the 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid.


Basic Icon models are well equipped but it’s worth considering the popular Excel version. It sits near the top of the range and adds features that’ll be handy if you have a family, such as keyless entry and a posh-looking leather interior that’ll be easy to keep clean.  


Excel models also get additional safety features that can warn you of cars hidden in the blind spot and a system that can emergency brake the RAV4 if you try to reverse out of perpendicular parking space into oncoming traffic.


What other cars are similar to the Toyota RAV4?


A better question might be: “what other cars aren’t similar to the RAV4?” The Toyota competes with models such as the well built and logically designed Volkswagen Tiguan, plus the SEAT Tarraco and Skoda Kodiaq that are mechanically identical to the Volkswagen.   


You can also consider the comfy and reliable Honda CR-V, the sweet-handling Ford Kuga, the stylish Peugeot 5008, the spacious Nissan X-Trail and many, many more. 


Learn more

Toyota RAV4 Driver's Seat

On the inside

Toyota RAV4 Rear Side View

Driving

Toyota RAV4 Built-in Sat Nav

How much does it cost to run

Toyota RAV4 Bootspace

Prices, versions and specification