The RAV4 has received some tinsel, just in time for its inclusion in a few post-Christmas stockings. Since its inception in 1994, the RAV4 has led
the charge of the modern soft-roader.
The most recent update makes it larger than ever and more grown up, too. It’s an important model for Toyota: as an indication of its segment-leading charge, the RAV sold an average of 440 units a month right through 2015.
A reshaped, smoother nose and decluttered grille are the primary external changes, along with LED headlights and blacked-out LED tail lights, which add a modern look more closely aligned with the latest Auris and Yaris passenger cars.
Both the basic GX and fancier VX models have redesigned alloy wheels, though Toyota has sensibly opted to keep wheel sizes small at 17-18 inches, in the interests of retaining ride quality and off-road ability.
On the inside, updates include a brighter and more legible instrument binnacle as well as a new 7-inch touch screen in VX models. This multimedia
interface includes a rear-view camera, vehicle information, climate control and security settings. Of course, media devices can also be connected via Bluetooth, USB or auxiliary cable.
Extra safety features include front sonar (VX only), improved rear-view camera display and auto headlamp-levelling. An additional 12 volt socket in the rear and trailer-sway control round off the facelifted package.
At the moment, the RAV4 enjoys the lowest entry price (R327 700 for the 2.0 GX MT) amongst established competitors, which include the Ford Kuga, Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai ix35.
The 4WD RAV models employ a Haldex AWD system that apportions power between axles where needed on slippery terrain, and which can be locked in a 50/50 front/rear torque split if need be. Five variants are available, with the sweet spot in the range clearly being the 2.2 diesel GX manual because of its punchy, frugal engine and good price.