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The fifth-generation Toyota RAV4 has received an enthusiastic welcome from the local market. Is this more rugged variant the one to get? 

Third: that’s where the new Toyota RAV4 placed on the list of best-selling passenger cars in South Africa one month after its release, with Naamsa sales figures indicating 839 units left showroom floors in April. It’s quite a feat when you consider the RAV4 outsold its larger, body-on-frame brother (816 Fortuners were retailed).

The local RAV4 line-up comprises five derivatives, two of which are equipped with an all-wheel-drive setup: the top-of-the-range 2,5 VX automatic (tested recently) and this 2,0-litre variant.

Sporting model-specific items such as an enlarged version of the RAV’s refreshed grille – replete with bespoke horizontal louvres spanning its angular design – a more prominent bash-plate and extra body cladding, the RAV4 2,0 GX-R AWD CVT looks decidedly more rugged than the sleeker figures cut by its GX and VX stablemates. The Urban Khaki hue of our test unit received compliments aplenty from testers.

Step inside and it is evident the GX-R derivative is aimed at the young at heart. Compared to the business-like dark leather trim of the 2,5 VX, this model featured a lighter shade of the same material, which makes the already-large cabin feel even more spacious. The orange contrast trims on the facia and seat stitching might not be to everyone’s liking but we did prefer it to the brown plastic highlights in the VX. The front pews feature heating and cooling functionality, with one tester describing these seats as possibly the most comfortable he’s sat on.

A highlight of the cabin is the chunky climate control knobs which are a pleasure to use and feel appealingly robust. The same, however, cannot be said of the small buttons placed on the steering wheel. Luckily, the volume knob is sited near to the driver and, although much more compact than the items controlling the air-conditioning, it features a similar design. The touchscreen infotainment system is simply designed, although some of its virtual buttons are a touch too small.

Like the free-revving 2,5-litre RAV4 we tested, the GX-R’s 2,0-litre petrol mill goes about its business without the help of forced induction and churns out 127 kW and 203 N.m of torque. Coupled to a 10-step continuously variable transmission, the RAV4’s four-cylinder engine does sound strained at high revs. However, drive the vehicle sedately and the revs remain within the lower half of the range and so minimising noise intrusion.

As expected, performance figures of this variant can’t quite match those of its more powerful 2,5-litre sibling. That said, the 0-100 km/h sprint was just 0,53 seconds adrift and, certainly at sea level, the 2,0-litre doesn’t feel bereft of power. If you live at the Reef, though, make sure to take the 2,0-litre for an extended test drive to gauge its responsiveness.

Continuing the impressive drivetrain showing, our test vehicle used just 6,90 L/100 km on our mixed fuel route, while its average braking time of 2,88 seconds is truly excellent for an SUV.

Like before, CAR’s testers commented favourably on the RAV4’s TNGA platform’s ability to serve up a sophisticated overall driving experience, but there were some grumbles about low-speed absorbency in rutted urban environments, where the RAV4 doesn’t quite match the polish of something like a Volkswagen Tiguan or Kia Sportage. 
RICHARD'S BAY, KwaZulu-Natal – It’s hard to believe, but the Toyota RAV4 has just celebrated its 25th birthday. That’s quite a feat in an automotive market that’s notoriously fickle, so will the new version be able to carry the weighty baton of such a strong legacy in the compact SUV segment? The early signs on our launch drive in KZN are very promising…

Bold, or business-like?

Despite its perennial popularity, it has to be said that each generation of RAV4 has progressively ushered in more sober designs, culminating in the rather amorphous-looking previous-generation model. In this regard, the new RAV4 has broken with this unfortunate tradition, coming out in two different but distinctive guises. While the bulk of their bodywork is the same – a more angular, two-box profile affair – the front end of the GX/VX models sports a sleek design with polygonal vent work and a sculpted bonnet. The featured GX-R is aimed at a younger buyer demographic looking for something a bit more purposeful looking. With an enlarged grille sporting horizontal louvres, extra body cladding and a more pronounced bash plate, it certainly looks the tougher of the two.

Impressive interior

Toyota interiors have been a mixed bag of late; some solid but simple, while others perhaps overly ornate to the extent of becoming hotchpotch in their layout and material cohesion. This new model represents a veritable leap forward in terms of perceived quality and ergonomics. Plenty of the touch-point surfaces (and many others besides) are slush-moulded from dense, high-quality plastics. The tiered facia and its controls are simple and logically laid out, while the lion’s share of information is displayed via a sharp TFT display within the instrument binnacle. 

Updated architecture

Spun off an extended version of Toyota’s TNGA modular platform, the new RAV4 features a wheelbase that’s 30 mm longer than that of the outgoing car; the upshot of which is plentiful legroom aft, but like many of its contemporaries the RAV4’s legroom-to-luggage space ratio is slanted towards the rear occupants, leaving a boot that’s merely adequate.

Like many TNGA-underpinned products, the new RAV4’s improved torsional rigidity and the move to a double-wishbone rear suspension setup afford the car a pleasingly smooth ride. The electrically assisted power steering remains on the light, town-friendly side but otherwise the RAV4 feels notably less ponderous than its forebear.

Terrain tackling presets

Although our off-road experience was limited to rutted gravel tracks, the RAV4 proved to be stable and didn’t easily succumb to the tooth-chipping jitteriness that afflicts a number of its rivals. At the heart of this particular model sits an AWD system that tailors steering, stability, transmission and power delivery parameters to best adapt to looser surfaces. “Mud & sand” and “rock & dirt” presets are accessible via a centre console-mounted dial. That TNGA platform also sees ground clearance creep up from a disappointing 160 mm to as much as 218 mm.  

Power, band

The GX-R we drove was possessed of that powertrain combination that often elicits scorn within the motoring press; naturally aspirated, four-cylinder petrol coupled with a CVT. Here, the 2,0-litre engine develops 127 kW at a heady 6 600 r/min and 203 N.m of torque. While revisions to the CVT’s low-speed pick-up and shift characteristics have gone some way to improving off-the-line performance, the perennial issue of (virtual) gear hanging strain still presents itself under sudden throttle inputs. It’s by no means the worst example of this configuration we’ve ever encountered, but given Toyota’s ability to craft light, snappy manual ‘boxes, we’d be very interested to see what a model thus equipped could do.


The new RAV4 is a marked improvement over its forebear in pretty much every respect and may even have the goods to become a leading contender in its segment. In short, the RAV4’s future is in good hands here...

Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Leather upholstery: partial artificial
  • Seats quantity: 5
  • Split rear seat: Standard
  • Folding rear seat: Standard
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Climate control automatic air conditioning: Standard
  • Cup bottle holders: front + rear
  • Lumbar support adjustment: driver electric
  • Front armrests: Standard
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Brake assist (BAS/EBA): Standard
  • Stability control: Standard
  • Hill descent control downhill brake control: Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Driver knee airbag: Standard
  • Front side airbags: Standard
  • Curtain airbags: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 7
  • Automatic drive away locking: Standard
  • ISOFIX child seat mountings: outer rear
  • Approach home safe lighting time delay park headlights: Standard
  • Emergency brake hazardlights: emergency-brake flashing brake lights
  • Start stop button: Standard
  • Hillstart assist hillholder: Standard
  • Alloy wheelsrims: Standard
  • Driving mode switch eg sport comfort: Sport, Normal, Eco
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: Standard
  • On board computer multi information display: Standard
  • Cruise control: Standard
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • Voice control: Standard
  • CD player: Standard
  • Aux in auxiliary input: Standard
  • USB port: Standard
  • Powersocket 12V: front + rear
  • Central locking: keyless
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Key less access start hands free key: Standard
  • Electric windows: front + rear
  • Rain sensor auto wipers: Standard
  • Auto dim interior mirror: Standard
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Heated exterior mirrors: Standard
  • Daytime driving running lights: LED
  • Light sensor auto on off lights: Standard
  • Xenon headlights: LED
  • Frontfog lamps lights: Standard
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Rear fog lamps lights: Standard
  • Camera for park distance control: rear
  • Rear spoiler: Standard
  • Metallic pearl escent paint: Optional
  • Fuel Type: petrol
  • Fuel range average: 821 km
  • Driven wheels: all
  • Driven wheels quantity: 4
  • Gearratios quantity: V
  • Gearshift: automatic
  • Transmission type: CVT
  • Electromechanical parking brake: Standard
  • Front tyres: 225/60 R18
  • Reartyres: 225/60 R18
  • Spare wheel size full: alloy
  • Length: 4615 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 1865 mm
  • Height: 1685 mm
  • Wheel base: 2690 mm
  • Ground clearance minimum maximum: 195 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 11.0 m
  • Departure angle: 20.0
  • Load volume / capacity: 698 L
  • Load volume / capacity: 698 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 1630-1680 kg
  • Gross weight (GVM): 2175 kg
  • Towing capacity - unbraked: 750
  • Towing capacity - braked: 1000
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 55l
  • Fuel consumption average: 6.7 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 153g/km
  • Emission control phase Euro EU level: Euro 6
  • Power maximum: 127 kW
  • Power maximum total: 127 kW
  • Power peak revs: 6600 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 77.9 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 203 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 4400-4800 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 203 Nm
  • Torque to weight ratio: 124.5 Nm/ton
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 1987 cc
  • Engine size: 2.0l
  • enginedetailshort: 2.0
  • Engine + detail: 2.0
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i4
  • Cam: dohc
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Valves quantity: 16
  • Variable camvalve timing: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 3
  • Warranty distance (km): 100000 km
  • Service plan: Standard
  • Service plan time (years): 6 services
  • Service plan time (distance): 90000 km
  • Service interval (distance): 15000 km
  • Service interval (time): 1
  • Brand: Toyota
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 60077620
  • MMVariant: RAV4 2.0 GX-R CVT AWD
  • MMintrodat: 2019-02-28
  • Introdate: 2020-01-01
  • DuoportarecordID: ToyoRAV4_5e8

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Toyota RAV4 2.0 AWD GX-R for sale in Port Elizabeth from one of's apporoved car dealerships
Used RAV4 2.0 AWD GX-R availbale from the following auto dealer:
Algoa Toyota Port Elizabeth used car dealership located in: Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa
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