After playing a session of luggage tetris, the weary-eyed members of Wheels24 headed off to Johannesburg for the start of the local international motor show. The ample boot space of the Toyota RAV4 helped ease an otherwise laborious process, though.Something has to be said about the bizarre antics of my fellow road users 3AM. For example, the Nissan Tiida driver who felt the need to straddle both lanes on the N1 for about 10km, or the Golf GTI which was desperately trying to become intimate with our rear bumper even though we were in the left hand lane of a dual carriage way.Disarmingly fun A journey across South Africa can be very daunting, but ours was made that much more bearable in the RAV4. The interior provided ample space, the controls were a breeze to navigate and driving the Rav was very enjoyable. All these factors combined to make a superb SUV that greatly reduced the stresses of a long trip.The disarmingly fun design of the RAV4 endears it tremendously to owners since it’s the roguish oddity in the Toyota line-up.Blending frugal performance from its D4-D engine, the RAV4 is a relaxing and competent cruiser, able to devour great distances whilst effortlesly overtake those innumerable 18-wheelers which dot the Karoo stretches of the N1.It 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine might not be the most powerful engine in class, yet the six-speed gearbox has excellently spread ratios; ensuring 310Nm of torque is only a downshift away. As the vehicle which defined the soft-roader segment in the early 90s, RAV4 is nowhere near resigning its status as the small SUV to love. Mother Nature strikesThere were some glitches along the way. The courtesy of flashing your hazard lights at the kind motorist who's just moved across to allow you room to pass is a little cumbersome to perform in the RAV4. The placement of the control is near the passenger seat and things become a little hairy when a simple "thank you" leaves you clumsily leaning across the dashboard.Also, it seemed Mother Nature was hell bent on testing our resolve as we encountered some bizarre albeit common weather conditions within the Free State. We welcomed the brief respite a freak thunderstorm offered, but things quickly took a turn for the worst as the winds kicked up a massive curtain of dust. Our trip was almost brought to a halt as our visibility declined to a few metres in front of us. Fortunately, as quickly as it came, the sand storm was gone and we continued our journey north.Our fuel consumption was 7.8l/100km; very fair considering the amount of baggage and passengers on board. Not to mention the blaring aircon. Twelve hours later we rolled into Joburg after surviving a jacknifed 18-wheeler outside Laingsburg, epic Free State sandstorms and a few suspect padstal meals.