Stepping behind the wheel of the new RAV-4, I hit 0 – 100 in 4 minutes. Woah! Did I make a mistake or what’s so great about that one? Well… When I slip into a test car for the first time, usually, I give the both of us time to get used to each other, before I lift the embargo on my right foot and my wary grip. In the RAV-4, the curfew ended a couple of minutes early. This car has a way of making you feel at ease.
UPSIDE: Reassuring drive, Reasonably comfortable ride, Useful off-road qualities, Organized storage space
FLIPSIDE: Less responsive touch screen controls, questionable rear design, some compromise on cabin furnishing
Al-Futtaim Motors pricing: 2WD model EX- AED 89,900 and EXR- AED 95,900. AND 3 grades for the 4WD model: GX- AED 109,900, GXR- AED 114,900, and VXR- AED 124,900.
The new RAV-4 drive has a slightly firm character, which falls within the parameters of comfort both on road and off. Toyota’s steering dynamics is getting there – getting better with every new model introduced. And in the RAV-4, it is even closer to the driver in sympathetic driving dynamics.
The acceleration of the RAV-4 is not phenomenal but totally adequate. At no point does it show it is stressed for power. The RAV-4 is composed and confident, and makes a statement in the most emphatic masculine voice in the compact SUV segment… and to imagine this used to be a car women favoured most!
Call in the genie living just below the steering wheel to the left of the dash, and you are equipped to check out that mound beyond the gravel path – or find a nice parking for you next to the beach barbecue pit. Hill control and four-wheel drive make it a good weekender, along with neat space management and a driver’s seat designed for long drives.
The wings of the new Toyota RAV-4 are a bit raised and hence the front side view is compromised a bit – not much of an issue but watch out for a blind curb in the parking lot. The beltline has taken a sharper upward turn, making the car look sleeker yet very slightly compromising on the side vision, just as the narrowing rear wind screen does. The front bears the smiling new grille of Toyota while the sculptured lamps in the rear stick out high and reminded me of the Dodge Caliber – aggressive needn’t have come with a pronounced doubt of identity!
Cabin and Controls
The RAV-4 is perhaps Toyota’s most improved vehicle that has come by us this year. The front seats are very comfortable and offer good support – lumbar and the flanks especially – placing you in a tight embrace to confidently grip the steering.
The cabin has class-leading legroom and boot space with no space for any grudge though some rivals offer a more open feeling in the cabin. The cabin looks, and it is, pretty ‘teched up’. Only, the touch-screen might ignore a casual hand occasionally.
Toyota has got the ergonomics right inside the RAV-4 cabin. The navigation screen is excellent and so are the arrangement of controls, especially with the provision of a soft feel sub-dash that serves the AC controls conveniently ‘on a platter’, while making space for a niche above the glove box to tuck sundry things into.
The music system in the new RAV-4 plays music – that is about it – but the navigation is something you can rely on to take you home from strange stretches of pocket roads you may encounter on your weekend adventure. The Bluetooth control is a bit layered but does its job well. The thin skin of leather and the hard plastic are a bit under the overall quality feel but they don’t discount the cabin’s good looks.
As I looked for the choice of driving dispositions that are pretty much standard in most sedans and SUVs these days, the tucked away button under the dash for Eco and Sport modes required a bit of searching.
The ISOFIX seats, ample boot space and long drive comfort make the RAV-4 a genuine family vehicle. The Toyota RAV-4 is like children you’ve seen grow over the years. It has grown with the needs and times both in presence and power.
The boot space is neatly organized with a quick storage deck and has roof rails for picnics and Friday jaunts. Despite having no air vent at the rear, the AC doesn’t test you on a bright sunny afternoon. The rear seats even have a centre armrest with space for cups or bottles. Carry your iPod and USB along, for there is provision for those – anyway, if Apple innovates, could cars of our times be left behind?
The Essential RAV-4
The compact SUV segment is really getting crammed up. With models and features. Recently, I heard of a Volkswagen Tiguan that was subject to an excruciating journey into the wilderness of Oman, just because some of the picnic-poopers had this uncontrollable urge to carry back more than memories and settled sandcastles! Whether your trusted demi-SUV lives up to the challenge is a different question. The RAV-4 has been redesigned to do so. With long-drive friendly seats, enough space to take care of a couple of stranded days, and just enough power to ensure that you aren’t stranded for too long!
Drive Courtesy: Al Futtaim Motors
Picture Courtesy: Supplied & DriveME