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Friday - 27 November 2020

Toyota Rav4 range review – The 8 sided polygon

As you smart people are already aware, a polygon is a plane figure that is described by a finite number of straight line segments connected to form a closed polygonal chain or polygonal circuit (according to what I looked up) and the all-new Rav4 comes loaded with them. From the grille to the tail, inside and out, if you look closely enough, you’re sure to find one. However, as I discovered at the NZ launch several months ago, the new generation SUV is far more than simply a plane (or plain for that matter) figure and to underline this fact Toyota NZ gave me a ‘pentagon’ of Rav4s to thoroughly explore – back to back   

Having a vehicle nameplate that’s passed the quarter of a century mark should be testament enough to the fact that the Toyota Rav4 has been a popular SUV but with almost 40,000 of the previous four generations sold in NZ, evidently, the fifth generation had some big shoes to fill. As it turns out, the All-new Rav4 is up for the challenge. 

Toyota Rav4 review NZ

The new Rav4 is a ground-up rebuild and sits on their very tidy, next-generation platform. It’s available in three grades, GX, GXL and Limited, all-wheel drive, three front-wheel-drive petrol grades, three powertrain options, including a 2.5-litre hybrid-electric petrol engine for the first time in a New Zealand-specified RAV4 and a top of the line Adventure grade. Eight options in total and I got to drive five of them.

Reviewed by grade and price, first up is the RAV4 GX 2.5 Hybrid with ECVT, AWD and a price tag of $38,990. The powertrain stats are impressive. 131kW at 5700 rpm, 221 Nm from 3600rpm (163 kW total engine + hybrid system output). Economy is reported to be 4.8 L/100km combined while emitting just 112 g/km CO2 combined.

Toyota Rav4 review NZ

The Hybrid offers a smooth, linear acceleration. According to Toyota, it’s thanks to the way the system optimises the level of electric motor assistance and engine revs without the engine running at high revs. It’s easy and dare I say light around town yet feels bold on the open road. The E-Four AWD system (a first for the Rav4) uses a dedicated electric motor to power the rear wheels when needed, sending up to 50 per cent of the torque to the rear axle where the differential can then send it in varying amounts to the individual wheels. It works independently from the hybrid system’s front electric motor and driving the rear wheels alone, E-Four smoothly switches the RAV4 Hybrid AWD to all-wheel drive on slippery road surfaces and from stationary starts. 

Despite being the base model in terms of grade, the GX comes with Toyota’s Safety Sense as standard, including Pre-Collision System with Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Tracing Assist, All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Automatic High Beam and Road Sign Assist. It has an eight-inch touchscreen, a 4.2” Multi-Information Display and Satellite Navigation with SUNA traffic channel, oh and a 6-speaker sound system. The interior is black, cloth furniture but comfortable and rather spacious, in short, it doesn’t feel basic. It moulded in with my family duties with ease, from school and shopping runs to heading North to the beach.

Toyota Rav4 review NZ

Next, the RAV4 GXL 2.5 Hybrid, at $42,490. The powertrain numbers were the same but the jump up in luxury was noticeable. The 17” feet had grown an extra inch making it felt better on the tarmac and as it now came with dynamic torque control, the cornering felt just a tad more confident too (not that it was bad before). The cabin came with premium fabric trim, leather wheel and gear lever, satin chrome door handles (inside), front and rear USB charging points and a Qi wireless charger – lovely.

Although the ‘drop’ in powertrain numbers in the $44,999 Limited 2.0 Petrol FWD CVT was apparent, the spec additions certainly filled the void. 127kW at 6600 rpm and 203 Nm from 4400rpm isn’t exactly bad though and when you throw in 6.0 L/100km combined matched with 140 g/km CO2 emissions it’s all fine and dandy. Acceleration is not exactly neck-breaking (through the Direct Shift-CVT) but thanks to the very firm next-generation platform chassis, cornering offers just as much fun as the others, possibly moreso as the 2WD is a little more playful!

Toyota Rav4 review NZ

19-inch feet keep you stuck to the road while leather keeps you stuck to the seat (hmmm, that didn’t come out quite right), either way, they’re heated, lumbar supported and have a memory. The panoramic moonroof lets light flood the cabin night or day, the instrument cluster is now 7-inches, the infotainment system now has a panoramic parking view and the sound system is upgraded to a 9-speaker JBL. 

Toyota Rav4 review NZ

Of course, the Limited 2.5 Hybrid AWD ECVT at $47,990 combines all the best bits of the others combined but it was the Adventure 2.5 Petrol AWD at $48,990 that was my favourite. 

Toyota Rav4 review NZ

The Adventure model adds more dynamic design features inside and out. The arches are flared, the roof changes from moon to Sun, the lights are LED and projector, the seats are sporty and ventilated, the multi-terrain select has downhill assist control, there’s an Adventure only ‘Safari Green’ with orange highlights all over the place – it just feels more vibrant and alive. 

Toyota Rav4 review NZ

The fifth-generation Rav4 is bigger and bolder than ever before and (thanks to the number of variants) is more or less sure to have a model to suit your requirements. There are many sides to a Polygon and although I admit to preferring the Adventure model the most from my Pentagon press drive, don’t underestimate the fun that the 2WD has to offer.

Toyota Rav4 review NZ

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