Vroom vroom: Toyota RAV4 review
Pull up to my bumper baby and check out Muddy's car review. The star of the show? The Toyota RAV4. Let’s push this pedal to the metal.
Working in London, I pretty much relied on public transport. It wasn’t until I moved to Leicestershire and started a family, I realised how important it was to have my own car (mainly for my own sanity) so ended up getting myself a little run around.
Nowadays pretty much every other car on the road – and on the school run – is an SUV designed to meet the real needs of women. Case in point, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
The first-generation RAV4 was launched in 1994 and the current fifth generation RAV4 was launched in 2019 as an all-hybrid model. There’s five models to choose from depending on how much cash you want to splash: The Icon, Design, Excel, Dynamic and Black Edition and they all come with a 2.5 litre engine. I was driving the Dynamic with a fourth-generation hybrid engine which helps to keep fuel costs down and emissions low (a big gold star) around 134g/km for this model. The car comes as either a two-wheel or ‘4WD,’ four-wheel drive (the one I road-tested).
Two words: A dream! it’s soooo nicccce! Considering this was the first time I was driving an SUV, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little anxious and the RAV4 is definitely one of the larger SUVs on the market, but it’s such an easy, smooth drive, the car did all the work for me.
I don’t know if it was the high-riding visibility or the shiny 19 inch alloys, but I couldn’t help but feel a little smug as I drove out of the Farmer and Carlisle showroom.
I spent the next few days driving the car for well, basically everything. Pootling around town doing everything from the school run to the weekly shop. I also squeezed in a shopping trip to Thurmaston (for research purposes of course) and got to experience it driving down the A46 (though clearly I didn’t go above the limit at ANY POINT!). The kids gave it a big thumbs up and for all its size (don’t fear it, embrace it!), the RAV4 is super easy to handle and sooo quiet – even Mr Muddy commented that he couldn’t hear the engine as I sped off the driveway.
It’s robust and safe and I like the fact that I could pretty much use it on EV mode when in ‘mum’ mode, but if I had to venture further afield and use more power, the car would automatically use the petrol engine. Plus, you won’t need to make any unexpected pit stops as it’s got a well-designed, self-charging battery – a life saver if you’ve got kids in tow.
Inside it’s very comfy and spacious indeed. The two car seats for the kids take up the entire backseat in my current car, but in the RAV4, there was still plenty of room for one more person plus, ample space in the boot for school bags, bikes, sports kit and whatever else they’re ferrying to and from school. Speaking of the boot, it definitely benefits from a convenient and practical hands-free power liftgate – handy for when you’ve done a big shop and it could easily fit at least three large suitcases and also a small buggy.
As well as the standard bits; reversing cameras, blind spot monitor, heated front seats, built-in sat nav, auto-retractable door mirrors, the RAV4 also comes with a helpful hybrid system energy monitor. This nifty tech tells you exactly what the car is doing for you and they’ve made it so simple; green means it’s self-charging, yellow for when you’re driving on electric power and red means you’re using the petrol engine.
The actual hybrid technology features a useful regenerative braking device which basically means that when you brake or coast, electricity is produced and stored in the battery for later. If that wasn’t impressive enough, the battery can stay charged for up to two weeks so no need to worry when that all-important family holiday comes around.
But the biggie for me is that you can drive this beauty without the emissions guilt, particularly as we’re trying our best to stop trashing the planet. 134g/km of CO2, means your fuel consumption is just under 50.4 mpg which basically means low running costs and low car tax rates. Put it this way; you can use the money you’re saving towards your next shoe purchase (or is that just me?!).
For all this car, it’s a cool £38,275 and while you may pay a little more for the hybrid technology, it is pretty good value for money in the long run and, you’re doing your bit for the planet! The two wheel drive is slightly cheaper at £35,940. The Black Edition starts from £36,350.
GOOD FOR: Families, holidays, road trips! It’s got ample room and can easily fit five people comfortably plus there’s room for a furry friend too. Such a versatile set of wheels.
NOT FOR: I don’t think you need a car this big if there’s just two of you. There’s plenty of other smaller hybrid models which may suit you better.
Fancy a test drive? Go on then! Farmer and Carlisle, 129 Welford Road, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE2 6BE. Tel: 0116 285 2851 or Belton Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 1ND. Tel: 01509 215 731.