What is it?
The Spice Girls came onto the scene in 1994 screaming at you to “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.” Car consumers didn't know but Toyota did. Unlikely as it may sound, the RAV4appeared in '94 as a true trendsetter. It was the first SUV crossover and the ingredients have not changed since. It combined roominess and ride height of an SUV with the efficiency of a sedan. That formula still continues.
Does it look right?
RAV4s are pretty popular here in Bangladesh. Our review unit is the fourth generation highlighting the current design language of Toyota. The profile is immediately sporty with that hawk-like beak of a slope up front. It has the sharp profile of a car that can carve through air.
There's plenty of Gundam warrior influences with the squinty headlights and the gaping maw of a bumper airdam. The lines flow neatly along the sides breaking up the large slab into two visually appealing creases. The top crease carries on and out toward the taillights creating a bit of a shelf where you rest your elbow and pose against your new car for that standard selfie. Quite convenient actually. Gone is the rear mounted spare wheel which once carried on the pretence of a big SUV without being visually pleasing. It was an eyesore and good riddance.
What's it like inside?
Couple years ago Toyota thought fake embossed stitching on plastic would fool people into thinking it was upmarket. Plastic feels like plastic. Things like stitches are so basic in functionality they should never appear as plastic copies. Kind of like Megan Fox. So the plastic stitch was ditched in favour of the real thing. Yes, you can poke them and feel them move. This may verge on nit-picking, but it goes all out making the previously plasticky interior of the last three gens a forgotten memory. We got the black and terracotta red interior that looked smart and felt good with the soft touch surfaces.
Simplicity and solid construction was probably on the designers agenda. It's not a work of art but it works and it feels solidly constructed to last forever.
Can you have a board meeting in there?
There's acres of space inside, so much so that my sub-Editor felt there was just too much space; he drives an oversized Camry. But there's no such thing as too much space which you will appreciate here. Rear passengers have enough space to stretch out while browsing their laptop and occasionally dropping it. Yet, the dimensions on the outside aren't that big. This is great packaging making a compact crossover feel large on the inside.
How does it ride?
Despite the tall ride height, the RAV4 exhibited moderately tight handling. From my experiences with all three previous generations, I expected much more body roll during fast cornering. It's no racecar but it showed as little bodyroll as much lower sedans. Most people here will be used to Premios and Allions. The RAV4 makes those cars feel like boats which is quite surprising.
Road noise does creep in but it never gets loud enough that you have to shout. At speed over our typically jittery roads, it provides composed movement and subdued thumps of those 17 inch wheels. There's a good balance between handling and ride comfort.