Toyota RAV4: 'All in all it's been an impressive update'
The Toyota Rav4 gets an update for 2016 with the addition of a new Hybrid option, joining the Yaris, Auris and Prius in the brand's semi electric line-up.
Performance & Running Costs
The existing diesel engines have also been replaced by a more efficient 2.0 D-4D, with an impressive claimed fuel economy of 60 miles per gallon. The Hybrid returns slightly less than that at 57, but Toyota reckons the real appeal of the semi-electric model won't be in the running costs but rather in the way it drives, and the increase in usable power – offering the equivalent of 197 HP to the diesel's 143.
Having driven both, there's no denying that the Hybrid driving experience is a pleasant one. The silent start-up and smooth power uptake from the automatic E-CVT gearbox make for a very relaxing drive. With a starting price of nearly €38,000 though, it's difficult to say whether that will be enough to tempt customers away from the more traditional (and fuel-efficient) diesel option.
Both offer a very comfortable ride, and the diesel remains impressively quiet at any speed, feeling almost as powerful as the Hybrid, even if it's not on paper. The suspension set-up is just soft enough to cushion the blows from any rough surfaces, without ever crossing that thin line into bouncy. Well-weighted steering, great all-round visibility and that high driving position complete the list of what most people are looking for from a mid-size SUV.
What’s in the cabin
One of the highlights of the facelift is the new interior, with better quality materials and an abundance of leather giving it a really premium look and feel. Styling aside, it's as practical as it has ever been, with one of the most spacious cabins in the class and an impressive 547 litres of boot space (although you will lose 50 litres of this if you go for the Hybrid).
Value for money
Equipment levels have also improved with 17 inch alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, Bluetooth and Stop/Start technology now standard on the entry level Aura model (from €29,950). For a €1,750 premium, the top-selling Luna trim adds cruise control, a seven-inch touchscreen, sports seats and a reversing camera. A new Luna Sport model with upgraded styling features sits between that and the top-of-the-line Sol, which kitted out with a full-leather interior and 18 inch alloy wheels starts at €36,500.
It's got all the usual safety gear and scored the full five stars on the NCAP when it was last tested in 2013. New this year though is the addition of some new features to the Safety Sense technology pack, including Adaptive Cruise Control and a Pedestrian Recognition System. These join an already impressive list of active safety features including Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring and Road Sign Recognition.
They may lot be allowed to call themselves 'The Best Built Cars in the World' anymore, but the Toyota name remains synonymous with reliability and longevity, and even the relatively new Hybrid technology has proven to be virtually trouble-free so far.
For that reason, they tend to hold their value very well on the used market, and the faith we have in that badge as a country makes residual values another strong selling point for the brand.
All in all it's been an impressive update, and while the RAV4's main strengths still lie very much in its core components of space, practicality and reliability, the addition of the Hybrid technology alongside some other impressive new features should certainly help widen its appeal on the modern market.