When the Toyota RAV4 was launched in 2004, it was able to create a market that preferred stylish yet small off roaders. The new market came to appreciate the RAV4’s combination of hot-hatch driving and gangster tough appearance. The second generation was released in 2000 to keep up with the market and 2006 witnessed the last update on the second generation.
Driving performance choices ranges from automatic, four-wheel drive, two-wheel drive, manual, petrol and diesel. The dynamics of the RAV4 is practical in terms of performance and reliable in quality—all of which can be had in its compact SUV size.
The RAV4 boasts of a sleek design in spite of its large size. The doors’ profile have been cleaned up, the wheel arches seamlessly going into the total shape, plus the modern look of the upward rear window line and the curved rear light clusters by the rear flanks.
This model continues to merge elements from the 4x4 and the smaller, regular cars. Its ride height allows for a better vantage point, yet does not compromise that secure feeling you’re after with an SUV. The height is still able to reach the cabin, allowing the driver to feel at home in spite of the elevation.
Cabin storage and material quality are other great features of the RAV4. Major controls can easily be accessed from the functional locations. There’s also enough room for adult drivers, and extends after the rear seat has been adjusted forward. The rear also allows for splitting at 60/40 and the seats’ light weight makes reclining, folding, and sliding a quick task.
Under normal conditions, the RAV4’s AWD system usually powers the front wheels, but it still provides enough of a 45 per cent transfer to the rear wheels. The Actibve Drive of Toyota offers drive and braking response to emergencies as well as coordinated steering to your driving. Off-road the rims’ rubber stands out. The vehicle’s 1600kg weight does not deter it from rolling smoothly into bends and going according to a straight-line ride.
Unfortunately the steering wheel needs a bit more of a height adjustment. Taller drivers will have a problem not being able to adjust the seat according to their comfort. Some dials on the control area are inconveniently placed too low on the dash.
Two engine options come with the RAV4: the 2.0-litre Valvematic petrol or the 2.2 diesel. The former disappoint with its 156bhp and a peak torque that doesn’t measure up to 150lb ft. Its failure in power delivery makes the 11 seconds mark to 60mph slow in performance. You’re better off with the 2.2 diesel and its six-speed automatic gearbox from the Toyota Avensis.
There’s also the manual D-4D gearbox and both are easy to use. But the automatic tends put a dull spin into its overall performance. Some road noise can be expected and could distract you from enjoying the RAV4’s smooth performance. The limits can be understeered when going around bends and sometimes happens earlier than expected, so prepare for slight discomfort at the artificial feeling of the steering.
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