For adventurous weekends away there are few better options than the new Toyota RAV4, writes Stephen Smith
Where the 1994 RAV4 was the first compact car that promised to make your life wilder and more adventurous, the 2019 RAV4 feels as though it can actually deliver on that promise.
So what do you want from a car for weekend adventures?
Space: For weekends away you need a spacious vehicle, and the 2019 RAV4 is so spacious it’s heading out of the mid-size SUV class and towards the full-size SUV segment. It will comfortably seat five adults, and the boot has a capacity of 580 litres, which is big. And if you put the rear seats down (there’s a 60:40 split) you can even fit a 29-inch mountain bike in there – with the wheels still on.
Another nifty feature is that the floor of the boot can be adjusted for height, or flipped over to show a rubberised surface when you’ve got dirty items you need to throw in there. In the cabin there are also a fair number of storage compartments scattered around.
Comfort: The problem with older SUVs is that while they were good for going offroad, you never wanted to take them far from home because they were uncomfortable. Today, the RAV4 is more car-like than ever, and one thing that stood out on our road trip to Zululand was the suspension, which is firm enough without being hard, so even on a dirt road that was falling apart at the seems there was no jarring or unpleasant noises.
There are now three spec levels in the RAV4 range – GX (the best value for money), the GX-R (for the more adventurous), and the VX (the larney option). Even the GX is fairly well endowed with features like a 7-inch touchscreen display, cruise control, manual air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and park distance control. As you proceed up the grades more and more features are added as standard. The GX-R grade also gets bolder, more adventurous styling with a bigger grille and chunky black bumpers. This is the sweet spot in the range, although the VX comes with even more opulence.
All-wheel-drive: The standard RAV4 is front-wheel-drive only, but you can opt for the GX-R or VX model with all-wheel-drive, which I think is worth the money. It’s a mechanical system that sends torque to the wheel that needs it the most, but you can select a mode (Mud & Sand or Rock & Dirt) to suit conditions, for better traction in adverse conditions.
Efficient power: There are just two engine options: a 2-litre petrol (127kW and 203Nm) that is in four of the five models, and a 2,5-litre petrol (152kW and 243Nm) that can only be had with the 8-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive in the top of the range VX. The 2-litre comes either with a six-speed manual gearbox (only in the entry-level model) or with a CVT transmission that has 10 pre-programmed “gears”.
Fuel consumption is good too, at a claimed 6,5-litres/100km and 7,3-litres/100km for the 2-litre and 2,5-litre respectively.
Safety: A full suite of airbags – including knee and curtain types – are fitted to all models, with electronic driver aids in the form of ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Hill Assist Control (HAC) and Trailer Sway Control all catered for.
The final word? The new RAV4 is very hard to fault, whether your adventures are urban or rural. Added to all of the above is Toyota’s great service network and reputation for reliability, and you can also expect phenomenal resale value when the time comes to move on.