Updated base model Toyota RAV4 GX Diesel is solid but slightly uninspiring SUV
The Toyota RAV4 wears one of the oldest – if not the oldest – nameplates in the SUV sector, and Toyota has had to evolve the once oddball small SUV from the early 1990s into a car that not only appeals to a broader audience, but is able to go head to head with offerings from virtually all of Toyota’s rivals.
Toyota has refreshed the RAV4 range for 2016, with the most noticeable change being new front and rear styling, which brings the car into line with the model T brand’s latest design language.
What we like:
- Soft and comfortable seats
- Interior fit, finish and space
- Acceptable ride and handling
- Powerful headlamps
Not so much:
- Not a lot of equipment for the money
- Interior design is bland with a drab colour palette
- Diesel can be noisy and unrefined
- New styling isn’t for everyone
Price and Equipment
The Toyota RAV4 is offered in three key trim levels: the base GX, the mid-tier and the fully-equipped Cruiser. The range starts with the front-wheel drive Toyota RAV4 GX manual with a 2 litre four-cylinder engine that is priced from $27,990 and climbs all the way to the Toyota RAV4 Cruiser with a 2.2 litre turbo diesel from $49,490 plus on road costs.
Our test car was a Toyota RAV4 GX fitted with the 2.2 litre turbo diesel, six-speed automatic coupled to a 4×4 system. This variant is priced from $37,990 plus relevant government charges.
Standard equipment includes a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, a touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, auxiliary input, cruise control and air-conditioning.
The Toyota RAV4’s interior is simply laid out with all functions lying within easy reach. The gauges in the instrument cluster are large and clearly marked and the driver can almost adjust the heating and cooling or change a radio station without taking their eyes off the road – there’s no voice control in the GX. A big plus for ergonomics. The dashboard may have been designed with user friendliness in mind, but it lacks any sense of real style and largely appears to be a collection of vents, screens and knobs clustered together.
Granted, Toyota has utilised excellent plastics and materials throughout the cabin which echoes the brand’s reputation for quality and durability, but dark plastics have been used excessively, making the whole cabin feel a drab and light-coloured embellishments would’ve lifted the interior’s ambience.
Additionally, GX equipment levels aren’t flash and the interior often reiterates that you’re driving the base model.
The seats are a standout though, with the two front chairs managing to be both soft and spongy, while being supportive over long distances and we found the offered excellent entrance and egress, aided by the RAV’s raised ride height.
There’s a substantial amount of room in the back too, and all passengers enjoy excellent visibility. The cargo area is 760 litres in size.
Engine and Transmission
The Toyota RAV4 diesel is powered by a 2.2 litre turbo diesel powerplant the produces 110kW @ 3600rpm and 340Nm @ 2000-2800rpm. The engine’s performance is a mixed bag – it’s quiet and hushed a cruising speeds, but can be coarse and clattery whilst progressing through the rev range.
The power band of just 800rpm is narrow and the engine feels as though it simply doesn’t serve up enough power or torque for its size. In comparison, the 2.2 turbo diesel in the Hyundai Santa Fe is a different beast, delivering strong and satisfying performance yet returning commendable fuel economy.
Speaking of fuel economy, Toyota’s official fuel consumptions are 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres, although we found 8.4 litres to be more accurate.
On The Road
The RAV4’s road manners are pleasant without being standout out. The steering offers just enough feel for inner city driving, while body roll is well restrained through the bends. Ride quality is generally very comfortable but it did deteriorate over train tracks and patchy tarmac.
Should one decide to take the RAV4 off-road, there isn’t a multi-function all-wheel drive system, but you do get hill descent control.
The new LED headlights offer excellent clarity as does the reversing camera, although the rear parking sensor visual warning system looks cheap.
Dual front, side, head and a driver’s knee airbag are standard along with anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control are all standard.
The Toyota RAV4 is covered by Toyota’s 3 year/100,000 kilometre warranty.
Toyota RAV4 Diesel Specs
Make and model: Toyota RAV4 GX diesel
Engine type: 2231cc turbo diesel four-cylinder engine
Power: 110kW @ 3600rpm
Torque: 340Nm @ 2000-2800rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Fuel consumption: 6.7 litres (combined)
Dimensions: 4605mm long, 1845mm wide, 1685mm high and 2660mm wheelbase
Steering: Electrically assisted Rack and pinion
Country of Origin: Japan
Options: Silver Pearl paint, $550