Toyota SA achieved runaway sales by seducing suburban housewives with the original RAV4’s “cute” SUV image. I do, however, suspect that with the current generation dropping the “adorable” three-door version, many of these housewives’ husbands may now leap at the chance to show off their new toys to the rest of the boys.
The new RAV4 is not only better looking than many of its Toyota stablemates, it has also grown up and offers loads of space and pace (particularly in 2,2-litre turbodiesel mode).
All round, the latest RAV4’s styling is neat and modern, using more pronounced creases and bulges, though it was commented that in doing this, the soft-roader has lost some of its distinctiveness.
The quality of the interior finishes can’t be faulted – classy hard facia looks expensive and aluminium trim is used with subtlety, and to great effect, in the hangdown section. The controls are large and chunky, with air-conditioning dials located on a “ledge” for easy use. And while radio controls initially seem busy and operation proved simple enough, steering wheel-mounted controls are sorely missed. Using the hazard button on the passenger side of the dash also requires an almighty stretch.
The two-tiered glovebox’s clever sliding section is ideal for storing documents and smaller items. Rear luggage space is positively cavernous, easily swallowing me on the occasion where I had to dive in to slide the rear seats forward, and pack and stack parcels.