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Pretty Poly – 5th Gen Toyota Rav4 Review

To most of us, a polygon is a 2D shape made from straight lines. The number of sides is actually limitless (providing they are all straight and connecting) but easy examples are the likes of triangles, squares, pentagons etc. Anywho, for Toyota, the Polygon communicates strength and coherence and they’ve used them liberally on the 5th Generation Rav4, both inside and out.

For a quarter of a century, the Toyota RAV4 has proven to be one (if not the) benchmark in compact SUVs. I remember them in Europe as fun rides used to explore some of the more popular Mediterranean islands and of course, loading them with ski gear to traipse up snow-capped mountains. Over the years, four generations of Rav4’s have been created and subsequently cherished, so it’s little wonder why Toyota has really upped the ante with the all-new generation five.

Toyota Rav4 5th Gen New Zealand

Built on the TNGA platform, the new Rav4 is longer, wider and taller than before, however, don’t read this a bulky, read it as ‘adventure ready’. Gaining powerful inspiration from their trucks (particularly around the nose) and displaying sharp character lines from the polygons I mentioned earlier, it’s an SUV that’s sure to turn heads.

Toyota Rav4 5th Gen New Zealand

The polygon theme continues inside with seats and speaker fascias to name a couple of areas, however, it doesn’t feel overdone, almost subtle unless you go looking for them. The cabin feels spacious (thanks to the longer wheelbase) and there’s a good use of soft-touch materials, tactile dials and contrast stitching to both modernise and move it more upmarket.

Depending on the model (for which there are several), infotainment is beamed to you via an 8-inch touchscreen and JBL provide the sounds. Toyota Safety Sense has been introduced as standard across all models, so you can be sure you and your kin are shrouded in bubble wrap, metaphorically speaking of course.

Toyota Rav4 5th Gen New Zealand

It’s not just the design, tech and safety that’s been up-rated either, under the bonnet you now have a choice of three powertrains, two petrol engines (a 2L and 2.5L) plus a hybrid, with the latter providing fuel efficiencies of 4.8L/100km and CO2 emissions of 112g/km.

For the New Zealand launch we were invited to join Toyota at their head office in Palmerston North. Following a very informative presentation about the Drive Happy program and an introduction to the Rav4, we headed north towards National Park where we would be resting our weary heads, but not without getting our tyres muddy on Rathmoy farm Near Hunterville in the heart of the Rangitikei and sampling some Speckle Park Beef – yum.

The Rav4 comes in both 2 and 4WD and although the grassy trek could be more described as soft road rather than off, the adventurous compact SUV covered the terrain with ease, so much so that we got to the Chateau Tongariro early – not exactly a bad thing. More sumptuous food followed by a pool challenge on the full-sized snooker table (that seriously took forever) and a great night’s kip.

During our two day hike we rotated through the full range (GX, GXL and Limited), plus one of the Halo’s, the Adventure (which was my favourite). Both on and ‘off’ road, the new Rav4 feels strong and confident, plus in the case of the 2WD, a little lively.

Toyota Rav4 5th Gen New Zealand

As I mentioned before, according to Toyota, the ‘polygons’ theme projects strength and coherence and I have to say, the Rav4 was easy to bond with. It’s still the fun car I remember from Europe, even though it’s matured a little, (especially when it comes to safety), it’s adventurous and with those chiselled good looks, can I call it pretty?

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