SMARTEST RAV4 YET: Wheels24 guest writer Cyril Klopper says the latest Toyota Rav4 is smarter, sleeker and more efficient than ever before. Image: Quickpic
Jozini, KZN – With all eyes on the new Hilux and Fortuner, the recent facelifted RAV4 made a relatively quiet entry into Toyota dealerships.
The fourth-generation RAV4 is all grown up compared to the boisterous compact SUV first introduced in 1995. It may be less entertaining than the original but it is smarter, sleeker and more efficient than ever before.
Gone are the door-mounted spare wheel and the optional short-wheelbase version. Instead we now get parking aids and more safety features than you can shake a stick at. Yes, it’s very grown up.
Gallery: 2016 Toyota RAV4
The most obvious exterior revisions for the 2016 model are the full LED headlights and the reshaped front bumper with a larger Toyota emblem just below the bonnet edge.
The RAV4’s face has in effect been ‘pinched’ toward the emblem which now resembles a surly stormtrooper from the new Star Wars movie.
Read: Toyota's popular SUV in SA - 21 RAV-ishing years
At the back the square reverse light panels have been blended into the flowing red of the tail lights to give it a sleeker appearance. A larger portion of the rear bumper has also been colour-coded to the body which gives the RAV4 a more stylish and even less utilitarian appearance.
The drive through Northern KwaZulu-Natal toward Southern Mozambique involved a gauntlet of annoying speed bumps and stubborn cattle.
The RAV4’s suspension proved more than adequate when dealing with the bumps, and the ABS with EBD managed to stop the RAV4’s two tonne weight every time when a cow sauntered onto the road ahead.
At the border post the Mozambican guards eyed the convoy of ten RAV4 press vehicles with great interest. Their curiosity turned to scepticism when we told them where we were going.
“Is this a car or 4x4?” came one incredulous comment. The official’s doubts were confirmed 15 minutes later when we hit the sandy tracks of Southern Mozambique.
My test vehicle was a 2.2 diesel with AWD and although most of the journalists made it through the loose sand without getting stuck, it certainly wasn’t plain sailing.
The Toyota Fortuner D-4D that acted as our support vehicle was kept busy recovering a few of us from the shallow trenches that their RAV4’s had dug.
Prospective owners should limit their adventures to simple gravel roads and steer well clear of hard core stuff. But don’t think for a second that Toyota is wimping out on us.
They build exactly the type of cars that the majority of people want.
By year-end 2013 the RAV4 increased its market share from 3% to 7% in the small SUV class, and by September 2015 it has increased to 12% – making the RAV4 the current segment leader.
Not much has changed since the 2013 model, but the flagship VX model now has a 11cm colour multi-information display between the speedometer and rev counter which shows information on energy usage, vehicle information and offers customisation options.
There is also a neat overhead storage area for your sunglasses and an additional 12V accessory connector in the rear for the kids to recharge their cell phones.
The powertrain line-up in the latest RAV4 range stays unchanged. It comprises a 107kW 2.0-litre Valvematic petrol engine in two-wheel drive format mated to a choice of six-speed manual or Toyota’s sequential seven-speed Multidrive S transmission.
The 110kW 2.2 litre D-4D diesel engine is coupled with a six-speed manual (or six-speed auto) and AWD; while the 132kW 2.5 litre VVT-i petrol unit is married to a six-speed auto transmission and AWD.
RAV4 2.0 GX MT - R327 700
RAV4 2.0 GX CVT - R338 800
RAV4 2.2D GX MT - R409 900
RAV4 2.5 AWD VX 6AT - R457 000
RAV4 2.2D AWD VX 6AT - R487 400
The new RAV4 comes standard with a three-year or 100 000km warranty and a five-year or 90 000km service plan. Prices include Toyota’s own Roadside Assistance Programme.