Toyota RAV4 Design

2.5 Hybrid 2WD

Toyota RAV4, 2019, front, static
Toyota RAV4, 2019, side, static
Toyota RAV4, 2019, rear, static
Toyota RAV4, 2019, front, action
Toyota RAV4, 2019, rear, action
Toyota RAV4, 2019, controls
Toyota RAV4, 2019, display screen
Toyota RAV4, 2019, interior
Toyota RAV4, 2019, boot

TOYOTA'S RAV4 emerged as something of an automotive legend after successfully ploughing its own furrow as a compact SUV - long before such vehicles became all the rage.

I have a friend who owned one of the mid-nineties originals and he still cites it as one of his favourite cars ever - and that's despite owning Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche vehicles along the way.

That original RAV4 broke cover a very long time ago - in 1994 - and now Toyota is producing the fifth generation of it.

The latest version might not quite have the quirky character of the original but it is a good looker whose sharp design lines should help it stand out in what is now a very congested marketplace.

The latest RAV4 features Toyota's New Global Architecture or (TNGA) platform, which the company says is 57 per cent stiffer than its predecessor.

It comes with double-wishbone suspension aimed at delivering more comfort, optimised weight distribution and better steering.

Quality overall has been upped too and the interior has a decidedly premium feel.

Perhaps the biggest deal as regards the latest RAV4 is that there is only one engine option available - a hybrid.

It could be perceived as a bold step by Toyota but in reality reflects an industry trend as car makers increasingly ditch diesel.

Under the bonnet is a 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor.

Power varies depending on whether you opt for a two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive variant.

The front-wheel drive version offers 215bhp while the four-wheel drive version delivers 219bhp thanks to an extra motor at the rear.

Four trim levels are available and an entry-level Icon is only available with front-wheel-drive.

Equipment levels are fairly generous. For starters all versions come with a CVT automatic transmission and even buyers of an Icon model get an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone air conditioning, rear parking sensors and camera and automatic headlights and wipers.

The option of four-wheel drive is available on all specification levels further up the range and the next level up (Design) adds navigation, keyless entry and ignition, a powered tailgate, front parking sensors and 18-inch alloys.

Creature comforts are a defining feature of the next step up to Excel, with leather upholstery, heated front seats, electronically adjustable driver's seat, heated steering wheel, ambient cabin lighting and headlight washers.

A range-topping Dynamic model has some added styling flourishes in the shape of more striking alloys, a gloss-black roof, sports seats and projection LED headlights.

This car was a Design two-wheel drive model, which felt suitably plush and I'd imagine is the model many buyers might plump for.

Unless you really need all-wheel drive capability or want to be extra-prepared for those rare occasions when we get snow then it really makes perfect sense for most people's motoring needs.

Petrol and electric power blend as seamlessly as one could wish for and you soon get used to the virtual silence when travelling at lower speeds on pure electric power.

As well as added roadholding capability the four-wheel drive version is also swifter.

It will perform the 0-62mph sprint in 8.1 seconds, while the two-wheel drive version takes 8.4 seconds. Both have a top speed of 112mph.

The RAV4 handles nicely and definitely errs towards car-like characteristics.

Pitch and roll are minimal, aided by the fact the new platform offers a lower centre of gravity, even though ground clearance has been increased slightly by 15mm.

In terms of practicality the RAV4 certainly measures up.

It has a big cabin which can accommodate five adults in considerable comfort, while the boot has 580 litres of carrying capacity, which increases to 1,690 litres with the rear seats down.

Safety is also a high priority and all models come with the Toyota Safety Sense 2 system.

FAST FACTS

Toyota RAV4 Design 2.5 Hybrid 2WD

Price: £31,195

Mechanical: 222bhp, 2,494cc, 4cyl petrol engine with electric motor via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 8.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 61.4

Insurance Group: 26

C02 emissions: 105g/km

Bik rating: 25%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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