Toyota RAV4 PHEV

Dynamic Premium

Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, side, action
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, side
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, rear
Toyota RAV4 PHEV Design, 2021, interior
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, boot
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, charging
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, charging point
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, engine
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, badge

REMEMBER the original Toyota RAV4... a neat, pioneering SUV about the size of an Astra or Focus and available as a three or a five-door?

Well, that was back in the Nineties, and it arguably launched the craze for small SUVs. Of course, the three-door has long been axed, but the name RAV4 is still very much alive albeit attached to a much larger high-rider.

And, in line with the rivals offering various degrees of electrification, it is a plug-in hybrid - an area in which Toyota has excelled.

Thanks to its low running costs the RAV easily dispels the myth that all SUVs are gas-guzzling Chelsea Tractors. In fact, the review car regularly returned around 55mpg in our hands - not bad for a sizeable five seater.

The only penalty is a reduced load area but it still holds almost 500litres of luggage, enough for most needs.

It couples a large 2.5-litre four cylinder petrol engine with electric motors which together knock out a substantial 302bhp giving the boxy 4WD an almost indecent turn of speed.

It reaches 62mph is just six seconds, making it one of quickest mid-size SUVs on the market.

It's possible to travel up to 46 miles on electric alone in ideal circumstances and even less cautious drivers will manage around 35 miles.

Despite impressive straight line acceleration, it would be a mistake to regard the RAV as sporty. Its ride is firm enough and reasonably settled but cornering, though safe and predictable, isn't particularly dynamic or rewarding from a driver's point of view.

And the extra weight due to electrification results in some body roll but this isn't excessive.

Engine noise is subdued but the continuous variable transmission - an automatic system favoured by Toyota and some other hybrid brands - doesn't make for relaxed progress. When revved it feels a tad strained but at steady cruising speeds it's pleasantly quiet and hushed.

Unlike the early RAVs, the current model has generous external dimensions and a roomy cabin with plenty of stowage spaces, cubbies and bottle holders. Materials used may not be in the luxury category but they appear plush enough, hard wearing and appropriately rugged.

No shortage of head or legroom front or rear. And the Dynamic Premium version we drove gets such niceties as electrically adjustable front seats, LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, head-up display, leather trim and glass panoramic opening sunroof.

All models are fitted as standard with dual zone air con, rain sensing wipers and electric folding door mirrors.

The tailgate is power assisted and opens to reveal a large regular shaped luggage platform which can carry 490 litres of cargo. Rear seats split 60-40 and fold to boost cargo capacity. There's space for storing the electric cables beneath the floor. Unlike some rivals, the RAV4 is a strict five seater without an option of a third row of seats.

FAST FACTS

Toyota RAV4 PHEV Dynamic Premium

Price: £45,755

Mechanical: 2.5-litre, 4 cyl, 302bhp petrol hybrid engine driving 4 wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 6.0sec

Combined MPG: 282mpg

Insurance Group: 34

C02 emissions: 22g/km

Bik rating: 8%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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