Reader test: Toyota RAV4
Author: Gerrit Fourie, Johannesburg
Cars have always been a very emotive aspect of my life and I have always purchased proper used vehicles instead of bread-‘n-butter new ones, excluding a couple of company cars through the years.
2007 brought the prosperous news that our family would be extended with a new member. Suddenly loathed automotive concepts such as practicality and safety entered the conundrum. We sat with two small hatchbacks, neither able to swallow all the baby paraphernalia.
Enter the RAAAAAVV. After much browsing and soul searching the privately sold 2005 RAV with motorplan and only 53 km just pipped the used Discovery 2 V8 to the posts as the preferred mode of family transportation. For once, head over heart.
I purchased the vehicle with my wife the assigned driver. I was initially disappointed with both the road holding and performance of the mini-me Prado, being used to large-engined, well-handling small cars.
And then the relationship started evolving. Firstly, I replaced the downright dangerous standard tyres with Yokohama Geolanders that made an incredible difference in the braking and cornering behaviour of the vehicle, and this is vouched for by my better half. Secondly, I had to teach myself to rev the nuts of the vehicle to extricate forward motion.
The motor is very revvy but lacks lowdown twist, despite the fender VVTI decals, which makes it a bit tiring on the long road since you have to keep playing with the short-throw gearlever to maintain motion on inclines and during overtaking. Leading me to another motion related point of dissent; can Toyota please get a German engineer to design a differential for their FWD vehicles? Even my wife complains about the wheel spin and torque steer on anything but a tractable tarmac surface, though the new tyres improved this, it is still not acceptable.
The biggest single surprise to date has to be the excellent economy of the vehicle, tank for tank we average more than 12km/l which, in my book, is excellent for a usually well laden upright vehicle.
Another feature that deserves applause for innovation is the foldable, reclinable AND easily removable rear seats that allow for cavernous loading capability and configurability. The gripe of many a motoring journalist is the door-mounted spare wheel, I on the other hand love this arrangement for the very low loading sill and large boot volume (with various tie-down points and 12v outlet) considering the size of the vehicle.
Big boot, economy, well thought-out interior, reliability, very good ground clearance for a softroader, and the smile on my wife’s face when I brought it home
Front differential, seat squabs are a tad short to support your thighs during long journeys.
All this leaves me with a moral dilemma, the RAV ticks all the boxes, especially considering the purchase price. All boxes bar one, it does not lure me into the driver seat just for the hell of it.
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