The Toyota RAV4 has long been part of the staple diet of SUV loving Australians. It was one of the first compact SUVs launched here, and remains one of the most popular.
Much like rice or potatoes, it’s long been no frills yet reliable choice, a popular option alongside Mazda’s CX-5 and Nissan’s X-Trail.
But the updated RAV4 certainly adds some welcome spice. It’s a fresh take on a proven recipe. Here we test the circa 50 grand Cruiser flagship version.
The 2016 model is distinctly different looking from the outside, adopting the same face as various other updated Toyotas, including the Corolla.
An electric tailgate – that’s a nice touch. There’s 577-litres of space with the sets in use, which is excellent – and it’s suitably versatile.
Although the exterior changes are noteworthy, it’s in here that I was really surprised. It’s barely recognisable.
It’s got a bit of flair in place of that old no frills feel. Matte black trim with silver accents is always a nice combo.
The top of the range Cruiser, which is what we have here, as well as the GLX get a new instrument cluster with a 4.2-inch colour display too.
You get Lexus-like quality and better presentation. The media system is a big improvement but the screen is pretty small and angled more towards passenger than driver. Some bad glare on instrument display panel at times too.
New safety features are a welcome addition. Our range-topper gets pre-collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure alert and radar cruise control.
And that’s not all. There’s a reversing camera, with front parking sensors, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.
Up front there’s a familiar 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine – and it’s quite peppy. It’s quiet in here too… Toyota has upped the insulation and it’s noticeable.
Shock absorbers and coil springs have been tweaked too… and while it may have been marked down previously for being a little harsh on the road… again, the changes have had a positive impact on comfort levels.
Ride better than it was but still short of benchmarks like the locally tuned Hyundai Tucson, and can be sharp over broken pavement and hard edges like road joins.
If you’re going to be towing a trailer – the trailer sway control is handy. But braked towing capacity is 1200kg for the diesel. That lags behind the Mazda CX-5 at 1800kg or the Hyundai Tucson at 1600kg.
The top tier Cruiser with the diesel engine costs $49,490 before on-road costs. It has a three year 100,000 km warranty with a capped price servicing plan every six months or 10,000km.
The Toyota reputation for reliability has certainly been a factor in its continued popularity… despite it lagging behind its competitors in areas like technology, styling and the finish of the cabin.
But now the Toyota RAV4 is looking better than ever both inside and out.