Toyota Rav 4 Review: Toyota Revs Up Compact SUV Market

13 February 2014 - Shawn Jooste


It’s a little known fact, but Toyota pioneered the compact SUV market when they initially launched the RAV 4 back in 1994. Now in it’s 4th generation, the RAV 4 finds itself competing in a very crowded market.

Just about everyone now makes a compact SUV, and we’re beginning to see some proper performance variants in the space too.

Added to this, the Koreans and the Chinese are beating down the price in this segment, so Toyota, who seemingly pioneered the segment really have a fight on their hands.

It’s not a bad looking car, and there are a number of different spec models available. We drove it for a week to see what’s what!


There are 2.0-litre petrol engines available, or you could have the 2.2-litre diesel engine, or the model we tested, which has a 2.5-litre petrol engine. This 4-cylinder delivers 132kW, and 233Nm of torque to get you going.

Connected to the engine is a 6-speed auto ‘box driving permanent all wheel drive.

The power was more than adequate, and enough to pull you along nicely, even uphill. The torque figure could be a little higher, but if you stay away from lots of exuberant driving you’ll be just fine.


The larger the engine and the heavier the foot, the more of a knock your fuel economy figure is going to take.

Fuel consumption takes a knock in town driving, with Toyota claiming 11,4 L/100km. Their combined consumption claim is 8.4 L/100km, but lets face it, we spend most of our time driving to work or the school or the shops. And even if we did find ourselves out in the wild, we’d probably be trying to take the RAV 4 off road which would completely stuff up your fuel economy anyway.


The RAV 4 has a solid collection of tech inside. In fact a lot of the bits in the new RAV 4 I recognised from my Lexus IS 250. So the goodies you’ll find inside the RAV 4 have been handed to it from Lexus. It’s like driving a Lexus SUV.

The screen mounted in the dash allows you to control most of the car, and of course that’s where you see the SAT NAV and all those good things.

The screen is a touch screen too, and sports AUX and USB and all kinds of toys like that, even integrates with your smart phone for audio playback.


The RAV 4 does really, really well in the comfort department. The leather seats are great, ride quality superb and cabin noise at a minimum. It’s built in typical Toyota fashion; well.

The ride position is superb,

Ergonomically the RAV 4 does well, the centre screen for instance could be turned a little more in the drivers direction, but Toyota have this stuff sorted out. You can’t fault the RAV 4 for comfort on or off road.


As a compact SUV, the RAV 4 is spacious enough as a soccer mom's car, but not quite 7 seater size. It is of course much more spacious than that previous generation RAV 4 with the 3 doors.

The RAV 4 will navigate some off road terrain, but you’ll encounter obstacles, that it can’t get over (like the Prado for instance). Bare in mind the RAV 4 only has 160mm ground clearance, so you’ll need to pick your off-road trails carefully.

The rear seats can comfortably accommodate an adult or two, and the kids have room enough to be comfortable at the back.


The compact SUV market is growing in competitiveness, and Toyota have answered the competitive market well with the RAV 4. It’s nothing radical, but what you get is a good looking, solidly built and reliable compact SUV which comes at a really affordable price.

You can easily find yourself in a new RAV 4 for under R300k, which is probably prompted by the Korean automakers like Hyundai and Kia, and the ever looming-on-the-horizon GWM.

It’s a good time to be in the market for a compact SUV if you’re not looking for a performance version like Audi and Porsche are showing us. The RAV 4 is a solid option to buy here.