Mark Jones
Road Test Editor
4 minute read
7 Aug 2019
11:49 am

Long termer: Smart, new Toyota RAV4 joins the fleet

Mark Jones

One could almost argue that many, many moons ago, Toyota’s RAV4 was this little three-door soccer mommy wagon that was way ahead of its time in terms of today’s SUV/crossover explosion.

The all-new fifth generation RAV4, dare I say it, has matured over the last 25 years and packed on a few pounds, but it has become smarter and more sophisticated, while offering extra interior space and all-round comfort.

A well-suited family car that is backed by the fact it is the number one seller in its segment. I am travelling down a dangerous road regarding what I have just said. And as my wife often warns me, do not poke the bear. But life is too serious sometimes. But a lynching by soccer mom or my wife for that matter is not what I need on a Wednesday. Sleeping with one eye open is not fun.

Moving on rather quickly, I am here to welcome our long-term Toyota RAV4 to our test fleet. We will be living with the top of the range 2.5 VX AWD drive model that retails at R586 500 for the next few months. This car is based on the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform that the cool looking C-HR came to our market with. It’s the first time it has been used for an SUV and, in the RAV4, it contributes to a supple ride, a spacious interior with class-leading load space.

The TNGA platform’s inherently lower centre of gravity and high body rigidity also means the engineers didn’t have to compensate with an overly stiff suspension to give the RAV4 a decent ride on tar or off the beaten track.

You will be happy to know the RAV4 now boasts a best-inclass luggage capacity of 580 litres (a 79-litre improvement over the previous model). But if like me, and the number of litres of luggage space means nothing, then perhaps this will make more sense. When the 60:40 split rear seats are folded down, you can accommodate a 29-inch mountain bike without any wheels having to be removed.

Being the top-of-the-range offering, our RAV4 comes with the 2.5-litre Dynamic Force naturally aspirated engine that produces a healthy 152kW of power at 6 600 rpm and 243Nm of torque between 4 000-5 000rpm. This engine gets mated to an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift transmission, while the fuel consumption is claimed to 7.3-litres per 100km. Thus far we are getting 9.1-litres per 100km in the real world, which I think is fine for a car like this.

Being a Toyota SUV, you know that this is like a mountain goat dressed in some good looking threads. You get increased ground clearance and shorter front and rear overhangs, which allows you to take your bling mountain goat out on some tough terrain.

The mechanical all-wheel-drive system is equipped with Toyota’s first dynamic torque vectoring system with Rear Driveline Disconnect. This manages torque distribution between the left and right rear wheels, providing stable performance and accurate response to steering inputs when cornering, both in dry and slippery conditions.

Toyota’s AWD Integrated Management systems – a unique feature in its class – further improves the RAV4’s AWD performance by automatically adjusting different systems (steering assist, brake and throttle control, shift pattern and drive torque distribution) according to the drive mode selected. “Mud & Sand” and “Rock & Dirt” are the modes available.

Safety is also not ignored with the family car, and the new RAV4 is equipped with a raft of safety features. A full suite of airbags – including knee and curtain – 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 VX model, like we have on test, introduces Toyota Safety Sense for the first time, which includes Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Control, Blind-Spot Monitor (BSM) and Pre-Crash System (PCS). With steering assist, as well as radar-controlled braking in conjunction with acceleration functions, these Adaptive Cruise Control and LDA systems essentially lend a level of autonomous driving to the VX models.

All models carry a six-services/90 000km service plan with 12-month/15 000km intervals, along with a three-year/ 100 000km warranty. Motoring editor Jaco van der Merwe will be putting our RAV4 through its paces next month and he will bring us his impressions on September 4.

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