• Quick performance; smooth-revving engine; lots of interior space and cargo room; comfortable seats; decent sound system.
  • Styling is dated; no large LCD screen; 5-speed auto; handling not as sound as some newer models; side-hinged tailgate can be impractical

6 / 10

Toyota RAV4 Review
Toyota RAV4 Review
Toyota RAV4 Review

If you’re in the market for an SUV – and it’s almost a case of who isn’t these days – then you just may have the Toyota RAV4 on your shortlist.

The Toyota Rav4 is the oldest of the car-based off-road-style vehicles, having launched in 1994, and it continues to be one of the most popular models cashing in on the world’s – and Australia’s – obsession with SUV ownership.

SUV sales are already up 26 per cent year on year and the market shows no signs of slowing.

The SUV segment has recently grown from three to four categories – small, medium, large and upper-large – in response to the latest trend for city-sized SUVs.

If you want choice, how do 327 different SUV variants to choose from sound?

There are eight different versions alone for the Toyota RAV4, which now moves from the ‘Compact SUV’ segment to become a ‘Medium SUV’, along with vehicles such as the Nissan X-Trail and Subaru Forester.

There will be a new-generation Toyota RAV4 in early 2013, but with a year still to go we wanted to revisit a model that continues to defy fresher models.

Having notched up over 180,000 sales since its Australian launch back in 1994, it’s difficult to think of a more consistently successful nameplate in the segment than the Toyota RAV4. In the last decade, it has been a top seller three times, second on six occasions and third once.

Toyota RAV4 Review
Toyota RAV4 Review
Toyota RAV4 Review
Toyota RAV4 Review

The RAV4, like the majority of SUV purchases these days, effectively replaces the four-door family car by offering a far more flexible package, especially in terms of cargo space and enhanced visibility for driver and passengers.

It might look positively compact sitting beside a Toyota LandCruiser, but the RAV4 is anything but when it comes to interior space.

The rear cargo bay alone seems larger than you might ever need, but then there’s some additional stowage space in a cleverly concealed compartment under the cargo floor, perhaps to hide more expensive items such as laptops or camera gear.

Although it’s unlikely you would need any more cubic space in the rear cargo area, remote levers located back there automatically lower the 60/40 split-fold rear seats to a horizontal position for longer items such as skis, surfboards or even a ladder.

The rear seats can also be moved forward or back, offering even more versatility.

We also lost count of the number of individual storage spaces hidden around the RAV4 – but more than 20 without even including the dual compartment glovebox.

Then there’s the ridiculously large amount of legroom for rear seat passengers, which would rival that of many vehicles in the large car segment.

Our $39,990 CV6 RAV4 test car is a mid-spec variant, and while it doesn’t come with leather upholstery, the fabric seats are comfortable with a wide design up front for larger body shapes. For those smaller builds there’s enough side bolstering to hold you firm when negotiating twisty roads.

Toyota RAV4 Review
Toyota RAV4 Review
Toyota RAV4 Review
Toyota RAV4 Review

While the interior mixes different plastics and faux-metal accents to try and create a more interesting-looking cabin, there are few soft-touch materials to be found inside the RAV4 and the design is inevitably tiring in the twighlight year’s of this generation’s lifecycle.

There are all the usual electrically operated creature comforts, however, including Bluetooth phone and audio streaming system that is quick and easy to pair.

A colour LCD touch screen with satellite navigation would be better, however, than the very ordinary LCD display that is hard to read in sunny conditions.

We’re not too fussed about the RAV4’s styling, either, notwithstanding its age, but it’s a bit dull when compared to a number of its contemporaries, including the South Korean Kia Sportage and Hyundai ix35 twins.

One thing that isn’t lacking is the RAV4’s performance credentials – at least in straight line. Under the bonnet is the most powerful petrol engine in its class – the same 201kW and 333Nm 3.5-litre V6 found in the Toyota Aurion, Toyota Kluger and Toyota Tarago V6. (It’s worth noting that most rivals use only four-cylinder engines, where the RAV4 offers the additional V6.)

It’s fast, too; simply dab the accelerator pedal and the RAV4 leaps off the line quicker than most performance hatches. It might seem unusual to talk about 0-100km/h sprint times for the family SUV, but 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 210km/h is quicker than anything in this category and price range.

Toyota RAV4 Review
Toyota RAV4 Review
Toyota RAV4 Review
Toyota RAV4 Review

The RAV4’s extra grunt makes for safe and effortless overtaking on freeways and country roads as well.

It’s smooth revving, too, and very quiet inside the cabin at idle. In fact, we turned off the air-conditioning at the lights and the engine note was barely audible. However, things can get rowdy during hard acceleration.

An auto with only five speeds rather than at least six ratios is also indicative of the RAV4’s age.

The RAV4’s tyres and all-wheel-drive system (there’s no V6 for front-drive versions) combine to ensure there’s excellent traction, though, even in horribly wet conditions (as we experienced).

Toyota has tuned the RAV4’s electric power steering well, as it’s nicely weighted, with only a small degree of play either side of the straight ahead and plenty of assistance for an easy time with tight parking spots.

The RAV4 runs on 225/65 series tyres, which are a long way from being low profile, so the ride even over blemished road surfaces is pretty good, but it’s not exemplary like that offered by the likes of the new Mazda CX-5.

It’s the same story with the handling, the RAV4 turns in well enough and there’s minimal body roll, but it doesn’t feel quite as composed or planted as several of its rivals.

Naturally, the bigger and heavier engine isn’t going to be as efficient as four-cylinder models, and 10.5L/100km is thirsty by class standards.

Toyota RAV4 Review
Toyota RAV4 Review

A Volkswagen Tiguan 155TSI, for example, offers slightly quicker performance yet uses only 8.8L/100km.

So the Toyota RAV4 CV6 AWD will be ideal for buyers looking for a combination of practicality and performance.

But with a number of areas betraying the number of candles the RAV4 now has to blow out on its birthday cake, Toyota’s engineers and designers have some work to do to match its SUV’s qualities to its popularity.

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Toyota RAV4 Review
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  • auto

    can’t wait another year,so I will go Mazda.

  • Troll No. 36

    We’ve got the current shape RAV-4’s in our vehicle fleet at work, the thing that put me off them was the amount of hard plastic surfaces inside and the amount of engine and road noise permeating the cabin, even at only 60km/h.


    More exciting cars from Toyota… The new RAVBORE…. 

    • Johnson

      Such an inspiring silhouette and interior, the RAV4 really is car porn.

  • Mad Max

    I had a 4 cyl version for 3 years (the V6 was not out when I bought it) and can offer some comments from experiance. Apart from a major cabin water leak when I first drove it in the rain (quickly fixed by Toyota including replacing the front and rear carpet and floor mats) it was faultless for the 3 years and 85’000kms. Yes the 4 cyl engine lacks torque and its a bit slow, but for a car of its size and weight it was reasonably economical – remember this is a large car.
    The not so points I found during ownership were:
    The rear boot door is HEAVY! If the car is parked with its nose up a slope or parked on a right to left hill, children and smaller woman have a lot of trouble closing it. 
    The spare wheel is also very heavy and it can be difficult to get it on and off the rear door.
    The front seats don’t slide back far enough for taller people. If your 6 foot or over, you will struggle for leg room.
    The rear seats are a bit flat and don’t offer a huge amount of support.
    The screen for the stereo can be difficult to read in sunlight and the same applies for the AC display.
    The 4 speed (in the 4 cyl range) just does not do and favours to a car with a lack of torque and you often find the auto hunting through the gears. With only 4 ratios to choose from its either dying in 4th or reving its head off in 3rd.
    Some of these may have been rectified during the various updates since I had my car. I will say though that re-sale on these is really good!
    All in all it was a good car and I’d have no hesitation in recomending it.

    • Sumpguard

      ….4 speed auto in this day and age in a car that is already premium priced is a joke! That alone would see me bypassing this car. Let alone the boring styling and plain Jane dashboard. 

            It should have good resale as you pay a bundle to start with. 

         I’m glad you enjoyed your car and thank you for your honest assessment but the fact you would recommend it despite the numerous shortcomings you mentioned simply reinforces mu belief that people buy these for the badge and have NOT test driven the alternatives. 

          Though it does appear toyota have started to realise that buyers want more than a simple transport. The latest Camry appears to have broken with tradition.  

      • Nm

        The same reason why people choose Audi, BMW over Lexus, right?

        • Sumpguard


    • Johnson

      Faultless? You just listed a dozen faults.

  • Ss1

    Love flooring Toyota V6 engines.. They spin out so easily..

    • Roomster


  • Logf1

    I’ve smoked many “sports” cars with this V6 Rav4.. It really is a beast lol

    Love the faces of people when they get their a** kicked by an SUV

    • Fali

      Your Rav4 V6 will be beaten by Forester XT any day ……

      • Logf1

        Hahaha!! Yeah right dude.. Suburu XT will have no chance..

        • Jober As A Sudge

          no chance of losing to the V6 Rav4 you mean

          • Henry Toussaint

             Rav4’s 0/100 is 7.4 seconds…but XT Manual is 7.1 seconds but do you have an Auto cause thats 7.9 seconds…

      • Birty

        I’ve driven both and I suspect I know what the outcome would be (auto Vs Auto), but look at the figures, 
        XT – 1525kg,169kw,320nm. 
        CV6 – 1650kg,201kw,333nm.

        Don’t knock the Rav4 in that respect, but they have no right to be as quick as they are haha.

    • Johnson

      You have smoked something.

  • MisterZed

    Apparently less than 10% of RAV4s sold are the V6 version.

  • JHP


  • KrisB

    The 5-speed auto should at least go into the 4-cylinder models and the V6 must be given the Aurion’s 6-speed

    • Johnson

      The 5 speed auto should go in a 1998 Camry

  • PPP

    I wish more cars came with V6’s..

    I’ve driven turbocharges 2.0L Euro cars.. And the power delivery is no where near as liner and consistent as N/A V6’s.. With FOrced Induction you have mid range power then that’s it.. No more juice left..

    With V6 you have awesome low end power and high-end power and good mid-range power.. Not to mention cruisng at high speeds is sleepy! cruising 120KM/H at 1k rpm

    • Johnson

      I wish blog comments came with spellcheck.

    • Phil

      All Wrong.

      This V6 Rav4 cruises at about 2.3K rpm at 120kmh not 1K rpm. No car runs at 120kmh at just 1000rpm.

      The engine has a peak power at 6200 where is quickly tapers off – same with the torque which dies off at 4700rpm.
      Compare that to the BMW 2.0 Twinpower where the peak power is flat from 5000rpm through to 6500rpm and torque is flat from 1250rpm through to 4800rpm. It has both HIGHER and LOWER power AND torque peaks. You got things the wrong way around.
      Furthermore, these 2.0 engines run at about 1450rpm at 120kmh with the 8 speed auto compared to around 2300rpm with the Rav4 V6 5 speed.

  • Miop300

    Recently traded my 12 year old Rav 4 for a Lexus. They take any treatment, cheap as chips to service and are incredibly reliable. Toyota will fix any problem promptly.

    Wish I could have said the same for my BMW. The heart was sorry to see it go but the head was happy not to have the headache.

    Hope the Lexus works out.

  • Brayden

    I also own a 2010 Rav4 4cyl Manual

    Faultless so far I have not come across any problems with the car yet so far run 45000ks
    Road noise as Mad Max talked about I cant say my Rav4 has as much as your talking about I cant hear any more noise coming through then the next SUV.

    The 4 Speed Auto matched with the 4cyl is hopeless when we test drove the car it felt sluggish really lacking in torque hence why we opted for the manual which feels quick and nimble off the line and pulls nicely thought the rev range.

    The back door being heavy I think its time to do some weights because me or my wife have never had a problem closing it.

    One draw back I have had is the traction in the wet straight line everything is fine but a little bit of throttle through a corner and you will under-steer quite heavily just have to be a bit more light with the throttle in the wet.

    Stereo which the guys at Car-advice missed is excellent for a stock stereo would be nice to have a Sub for low down bass but the speakers handle things quite well listened to a mix of songs and have had no complaints about the sound quality.

    Also to some of Mad Maxs comments about leg room front and rear I have never felt like im being squished and im 6,2 I have had 4 6 foot and above adults in the car on a long trip and never had a problem with leg room.


    Why do people state resale as one of a major decision to buy a car, car is not an investment and if you intend to keep it around for 5-7 years which most modern cars are capable off without falling apart like years ago, the cost won’t be critical. Toyota doesn’t own the reliable, bullet proof quality like years before, majority of the Jap and Korean have sort that out. Toyota build boring plain cars, its like buying clothes from Kmart, durable yet not enjoyable to wear and would not get coaght dead in.

  • smitthy

    The worst so called SUV on the market!

    • Roomster

      The best, actually.

Toyota Rav4 Specs

Car Details
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$21,340 - $24,250
Dealer Retail
$22,760 - $27,060
Dealer Trade
$16,800 - $19,400
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
333Nm @  4700rpm
Max. Power
201kW @  6200rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
10.5L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:1900  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
225/65 R17
Rear Tyres
225/65 R17
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Anti roll bar, Gas damper
Rear Suspension
Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Anti roll bar, Gas damper
Standard Features
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control
Control & Handling
Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Hill Holder, Traction Control System
Cruise Control, Power Steering
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Power Mirrors, Rear Spoiler
Power Windows
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Metallic Paint
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Front Floor
Country of Origin