Why Aussies love this family SUV
Australians love SUVs and the new Toyota RAV4 is at the top of a lot of shopping lists. And while the hybrid version is winning all the acclaim, including News Corp's Car of the Year, the petrol-powered versions have some serious pedigree, too.
Here are five things you need to know about the petrol RAV4 if you are keen on a mid-size family car.
1. Join the shorter queue
High demand and initial brake issues have collectively caused delivery delays for some hybrid RAV4 models. Those ordering hybrid variants now can expect to wait months, and more than six for the most popular Cruiser specification. There is no such issue for the two-wheel drive petrol variants. They start from a little more than $30,000 for the manual versions, but the vast majority of Australians will opt for autos.
2. Don't venture off-road
Looks are deceiving and while the RAV4 looks fit for off-road work, the two-wheel drives target the bitumen. The toughest terrain they are likely to tackle is muddy puddles at soccer training. That will suit most SUV buyers, and the Cruiser models combine luxury and new technology. Among the highlights of the range-topping front-wheel drive are leather-accented seats, sunroof, nine-speaker JBL stereo linked to an eight-inch touchscreen display, satnav and 19-inch alloys. Tech-savvy families will appreciate the wireless charging for enabled phones, three front and two rear USB sockets, keyless entry and push-button start. Buyers can also retrofit smartphone mirroring applications Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
3. No need for speed
Reliable and honest, the four-cylinder petrol engine is a fine example of Toyota sensible. Those who don't ask too much of its sprinting abilities will find the four-potter fine for daily duties. Plant the right foot with too much vigour and the continuously variable transmission struggles to react in a timely fashion - a common issue with CVTs. Hybrid models offer extra kick under acceleration.
4. Keeping the bank manager happy
Performance may not be scintillating, but our average of 7.2 litres for every 100km with a combination of real-world highway and urban driving is a reasonable return for an SUV of this size. Hybrids have better efficiency, but cost an extra $2500 at this specification. With a five-year warranty and service costs that are $210 for the first five years, it's one of the least expensive SUVs to keep on the road. Services are required annually or every 15,000km.
5. Room to move
There's ample room for the growing family and it's among the more spacious medium-size SUVs available. Boot space is now a massive 580 litres, dwarfing the best-selling CX-5 at 442 and only just shy of a Skoda Octavia wagon. The room is good enough for a couple of surf boards and two kids still in the back using the 60-40 split-fold seats.
Toyota RAV4 2WD Cruiser vitals
Price: $43,000 drive-away
Warranty/servicing: 5 yrs/u'ltd km; $1050 for 5 yrs/75,000km
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 127kW/203Nm
Safety: 5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, active cruise, lane keeping, cross traffic alert
Spare: Space saver