The Toyota RAV4 for almost 20 years has been an enduring silhouette on Australian roads. Widely regarded as the original ‘Recreational Active Vehicle’, it’s been a consistent hot seller both here and internationally. But has the 2013 RAV4 gone soft? Has it morphed into an alien radical that has insulted its loyal following? Has this pioneering cross over vehicle given in to the relentless plague of popular yet largely superficial and pointless SUV’s?

EFTM had one week to decide.

Toyota Rav 4

Toyota Rav 4

The 10 Minute Test Drive.

First impressions of the fourth generation RAV4 revolve mainly around the risky styling. Plastic body mouldings that would rival a Tupperware party are a distant memory. Nor is there any sign of the rear mounted spare that usually featured a novelty cover with a Tasmanian Devil shouting “back off”.

Large chunks of the 2013 Corolla / Camry design DNA have been whipped up to produce an unrecognisable RAV4.

Toyota Rav 4

Toyota Rav 4

From the majority of angles it’s visually impressive, front on it’s strangely narrow looking.

It’s also now noticeably smaller.

Jump on board and laid out before you is an elaborately designed dashboard that features numerous different materials and layers. The driver and front seat passenger exist in two uniquely styled spaces.

Toyota Rav 4 - Interior

Toyota Rav 4 – Interior

From behind the leather clad steering wheel is a blue lit binnacle instrument display that features an unnecessarily large fuel level read out. There are round, rectangular and top mounted air vents. Incorporated into the ledge like upper dash is a retro looking digital clock and seat belt reminder lights.

Toyota Rav 4 - Dash

Toyota Rav 4 – Dash

Below that is a simple 6.1″ colour display for audio and phone controls. Satellite navigation is available on higher spec models. Continuing with the sectional feel sits a climate control module before a stitched padded panel veers off into the front passenger space with an open upper storage area and glove box beneath.

It’s a unique, interesting layout.

There are numerous storage options throughout the cabin along with well placed cup / bottle holders.

Heavily bolstered black fabric seats are firm but supportive on the tested GXL model, although only manually adjustable.

The AWD GXL is equipped with the larger 2.5 litre petrol four-cylinder unit. It comfortably hustles the RAV4 along. Nothing overly brisk off the mark, but quite willing under rolling acceleration. The ‘Sport’ mode changes the throttle personality quite dramatically and even  sharpens the electronically assisted steering. It makes for a more snappy experience.

The 6-speed automatic as tested was largely faultless.

The RAV4 certainly isn’t softly sprung. Its suspension tune borders close to being too firm for some of our roads. But ideally it does provide for a stable competent platform that promotes a decent drive.

In’s and Out’s.

The 2.5 litre 132 kW / 233 Nm four-cylinder unit is positioned between the smaller capacity 2.0 litre 107 kW / 187 Nm petrol four-cylinder and the newly arrived 2.2 litre turbo-diesel that generates 110 kW / 340 Nm.

GXL models score highlights such as 17″ Alloys, dusk sensing head lamps, rain sensing wipers, reversing camera, premium steering wheel with audio and telephone controls, automatic dual zone climate control and smart entry with keyless start.

Toyota Rav 4 - Spare Tyre - Inside the car!

Toyota Rav 4 – Spare Tyre – Inside the car!

The rear mounted spare has been moved to beneath the rear cargo floor. A net and tray tonneau cover come as standard.

Daytime running lights bring the RAV4 up to speed with today’s modern offerings.

While no more than a gimmick on some soft off roaders, EFTM discovered the Toyota AWD system capable enough to tackle more than a Westfield car park. The system provides enough traction and the benefit of a centre diff-lock to confront a little bush bashing within reason. Of course common sense should prevail here!

Towing ratings for the Australian RAV4 are controversial at best. Dependent on engine and transmission the RAV4 is only allowed to pull as little as 500kg or up to 1500kg for the larger capacity petrol engine.

Bragging Rights

Having the newest model on the block is usually worth a bit of chest beating. However we were a little surprised at some of the feedback on the EFTM Facebook page.

Toyota Rav 4

Toyota Rav 4

Comments such as:

“Old one looked more like a proper SUV”

“What’s with the tiny widows”?

“So you put the spare tyre inside the car, change the rear tail lights and call it a new car”

In fact the vast majority seemed to be at odds with the 2013 model. EFTM was quite comfortable with the new creation, it has a fresh modern look that edges towards being sporty. There are far more benign looking SUV’s out there.

The Lasting Impression

Toyota Rav 4

Toyota Rav 4

It’s almost become a cliche but there’s just something about a Toyota. Durability and reliability is what they’re renowned for. As a driver it’s something you can just sense.

Toyotas don’t pretend to be something they’re not. There are no-show pony tricks, no radical gimmicks. In a motoring classroom Toyota would be a straight B student. The RAV4 is no different.

The Hip Pocket

As tested the GXL model is $37,990 (plus silver paint and full-size spare options).

Toyota Rav 4

Toyota Rav 4

Finding the right RAV4 for you shouldn’t be difficult with 16 variants, spread across three models, GX, GXL and Cruiser.

  • 2WD petrol GX manual $28,490 for the GX manual, 2WD petrol GXL manual $32,490
  • 2WD petrol GX manual $28,490
  • GXL manual $32,490
  • AWD petrol GX manual $31,990
  • GXL manual $35,490
  • Cruiser manual $42,990
  • AWD diesel GX manual $35,490
  • GXL manual $38,990
  • Cruiser manual $46,490

EFTM Rubber Stamp

From a manufacturer that had a bad habit of producing ‘white goods on wheels’ the dramatically restyled RAV4 probably will prove uncomfortable for some to digest. Toyota is attempting to get funky. The RAV4 feels a bit like a 50 year old bloke deciding to dress like he fronts a boy band.

But you know what? It works.

Toyota Rav 4  - Earns the EFTM Credit stamp!

Toyota Rav 4 – Earns the EFTM Credit stamp!

The Toyota RAV4 earns the EFTM Credit Stamp