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Toyota's RAVolution. Image by Dave Jenkins.

Toyota's RAVolution
Toyota's RAV4 has some stiff competition these days. How does it fare?

   



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| A Week at the Wheel | Cambs, England | Toyota RAV4 T180 2.2 D4D |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

It's actually difficult to differentiate between soft-roaders nowadays - especially the cluster of Japanese offerings - and the RAV4 is equally as anonymous as the others in profile. Front and rear styling is bolder and the side hinged tailgate is a practical solution in terms of ease of use and access, but a little more individuality wouldn't go amiss - a criticism that can be levelled at many of the offerings in the market place.

Interior wise the RAV4 is comfortable, spacious and well equipped, but the choice of materials and layout feels a little cheap in places. Switchgear is logical and pleasant enough to use, although the starter button is a needless addition on the dashboard. Overall the RAV4's cockpit is average rather than standard setting.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

Toyota's D4D engine sees service in a variety of models and impresses with the strength of its performance. The headline figures of 175bhp at 3,600rpm and 295lb.ft from 2,000- to 2,600rpm reflect its character well; it operates at its best between those extremities. Power tails off above the peak point and the engine becomes rather uncouth. Surprisingly, the noise and vibration of the engine leave a lot to be desired and certainly don't match the manners of Honda's or Nissan's latest offerings. Our test car also demonstrated a reluctance to cold start and run up, idling roughly and unhappily for several seconds before levelling into smoother running.

On the move, the high torque output gives relaxed performance; 0-60mph in 9.3 seconds and a maximum of 124mph are on a par with the best in class and in-gear acceleration is equally strong, albeit accompanied by a vocal soundtrack. The gearbox is slick and the clever four-wheel drive system promises improved off road ability over the outgoing model. Towing capability is also increased.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

As per its predecessors, the RAV4 offers a car-like driving experience and its blend of on-road capability is a fine foil for its off-road potential, although the vast majority of owners will never venture into the muddy stuff. On the open road the chassis enjoys generous levels of grip and composure and the RAV4 offers up enough ability to live up to the 'S' part of SUV. It contains its bulk and height well and the intelligent all-wheel drive does a fine job of keeping it on course in low grip conditions.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

Bearing in mind that this range topping model weighs in at over £27k one is rightfully entitled to expect a generous specification list and the RAV4 delivers with a full complement of technology and gadgets. However, it's hard to escape the fact that the premium price is not backed up by a premium interior, where as the competition, specifically the Freelander and the new VW Tiguan, show it up quite badly. Running costs are likely to be low with decent fuel economy and sensible servicing, backed up by Toyota's legendary reliability.

Overall: star star star star star

The market for SUVs has turned into one of the most competitive sectors and it takes something special to stand out. The RAV4 is definitely worthy of consideration and is a natural improvement over its predecessor, but the Nissan X-Trail and Honda CR-V represent stiff competition at the lower end of the price spectrum while the Land Rover Freelander undermines it as a premium product. In summary, the Toyota RAV4 is worth a look, but it's not the trend setter the original was.

Dave Jenkins - 26 Mar 2008



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2008 Toyota RAV4 specifications: (T180 2.2 D-4D)
Price: £27,395 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 9.3 seconds
Top speed: 124mph
Combined economy: 40.4mpg
Emissions: 185g/km
Kerb weight: 1650kg

2008 Toyota RAV4. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 Toyota RAV4. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 Toyota RAV4. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 Toyota RAV4. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 Toyota RAV4. Image by Dave Jenkins.

2008 Toyota RAV4. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 Toyota RAV4. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 Toyota RAV4. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 Toyota RAV4. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 Toyota RAV4. Image by Dave Jenkins.



2008 Toyota RAV4. Image by Dave Jenkins.
 

2008 Toyota RAV4. Image by Dave Jenkins.
 

2008 Toyota RAV4. Image by Dave Jenkins.
 

2008 Toyota RAV4. Image by Dave Jenkins.
 






 

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