10 Feb 2014

2014 Toyota RAV4 Short Review And Gallery

I'm running a Toyota RAV4 for a week.  Here are my thoughts after a couple of days with it.

2014 Toyota RAV4

The RAV4 is the last in a line of SUVs I've tested recently.  I knew it was coming (because I'd booked it!) but I wasn't particularly looking forward to it, because it's a Toyota I suppose.  Dull, predictable, safe.

Other than a Range Rover previous SUVs had left me cold.  They were lofty creatures who's job would be better dealt with by a car, and they cost more and consumed more fuel than a car.  The steering was often quite vague and the handling no more than OK.

So I was hugely surprised when the RAV4 turned out to be the best of the lot.  By some margin.

No individual thing about it stands out as being brilliant.  The shape is OK but not exactly sexy.  The corporate grille may put some people off.  I don't mind it but it's not an attraction.

On first glance the interior looks quite staid.  The seats are cloth and are manually adjusted.  But get in it, look in detail at everything and you realise just how clever Toyota's designers are.

The dash layout makes perfect sense.  No other car's dash comes close in terms of sheer practicality.  For example the 12V socket and USB port are under the main dash and right next to three cubby holes where you might put things that would need them.

There's a big glovebox and a space, with a lip, above it.  The dash top is flat for winter gloves and hats.  The doors cover the sills, just like they do in a Range Rover.

The infotainment screen and system is easy peasy to use and has Bluetooth and DAB which work with dazzling simplicity.

The materials used are great.  Soft leather, aluminium (that I think might be plastic but looks pretty good), limited amounts of black plastic.

The seats are comfy and the pedals and steering wheel are in just the right place.

The driving experience is pretty damn good too.  The steering has a meaty feel and the manual 6-speed gearbox is neither too light nor too heavy, and it has no notches or imperfections.

The rear seats and boot are huge, and the boot floor is low.  Much lower than in any other SUV I've seen.

It simply has no rough edges.  No small annoyances.  Everything is smooth.  The devil is in the detail and it's in the cumulative impact of many small details that make the RAV4 such a superb car.

On top of all that it has dealt with the flooded roads of West Berkshire with ease.

I'm amazed.  I never thought a Toyota would make me want to drive it.  But I do.  I have a 400 mile drive over the next couple of days and I'm looking forward to it.

None of the above should come as a surprise but it does because car enthusiasts think Toyotas are boring.  Toyota sells millions of cars.  I've just discovered why.


Power - 148bhp
Torque - 251 lb ft
Engine - 2.2 litre turbocharged diesel
Transmission - 6-speed manual
0-60mph - 9.6 seconds
Top Speed - 118mph
Economy - 49.6mpg
CO2 - 149 g/km
Weight - 1,640kg
Price - £26,500
2014 Toyota RAV4

2014 Toyota RAV4

2014 Toyota RAV4

2014 Toyota RAV4

2014 Toyota RAV4

2014 Toyota RAV4

By Matt Hubbard