Day one: The RAV4 is waiting at home. It looks quite handsome with a big ridge up the side and that beaky front that Toyota are trying to make into a thing. The first generation RAV4 was quite curvy and had an annoying saggy window line that made it look like its pants were falling down. This one does not. It looks grown up. I’ve just checked and it’s the fourth generation of the RAV4. The first two I can remember. The third one seems to have happened while I was looking the other way.
Day two: Like the outside, the inside of the RAV4 is acceptably smart. Toyota must have recently found a company that does padded, leather-look dashboard panels with stitching on them for a reasonable price. Clearly they placed a large order. Up-spec Auris models have it and now the RAV4 does too. On closer inspection, some of the dash is a bit strange. There seem to be buttons everywhere and it’s hard to fathom where you might next find one or what it will do, like fumbling around an enormous advent calendar. Starting to suspect that Toyota’s Head of Dashboards thinks it’s 1998. Yes, he can remember to leave a place for electric window switches and powered mirrors but when someone asks where the thing to turn off the parking sensors might go he gets all confused and makes it a tiny button inexplicably tucked next to the clock.
Day three: This RAV4 is a diesel automatic. The engine is fine. The gearbox is fine. The ride is fine. The handling is fine. You know what this car is? It’s fine. Apart from the door fits. The door fits are superb. No one does mainstream car door fits like Toyota. Except Honda.
Day four: You know the way small Italian hatchbacks encourage you to drive everywhere like you are late and the car is hired? The RAV4 is sort of the opposite of that. Its natural pace is best described as ‘gentle’. Not slow, just gentle. Unfussed. Soothing. If it didn’t have DAB I’d tune the radio to Magic FM.
Day five: Five days with a Toyota. Surely it’s time for someone to slam their own head in the door of a Corolla and then moan about it until the company is forced to recall every car it has ever made. Nothing yet. I’ll keep you posted.
Day six: I need to take the dog somewhere so I lay a dust sheet in the boot and invite the hairy buffoon to get on board. She refuses. After some persuasion the panting idiot clambers in. Unfortunately, the RAV4 has a powered tailgate which appears to have been calibrated against John Woo’s slow motion machine. I push the button and the lid begins almost imperceptibly to close. The dog immediately smells a slow-moving window of opportunity and jumps out. After some persuasion, during which a passing stranger may have heard me call my own dog a ‘knob’, the hairy oaf gets back in the boot. I push the button again, the tailgate begins its aching slow crawl downwards, the dog nips out of the still-massive gap and almost runs into some traffic. For attempt three I push the close button and then crouch on the floor holding the dog. The tailgate creeps towards us then detects my arm in the way, stops and opens again. DAMN YOU TOYOTA. Eventually I close the tailgate manually which solves the main problem but makes something in the mechanism whirr and sound like it’s not meant to do that.
Goodbye: If you said you were going to buy one of these RAV4s I would not tell you not to be so ruddy stupid. If you said you weren’t going to buy one, I would respect that decision too. There’s nothing much wrong with it, but other cars are available. Personally, I’d probably buy a Freelander. But that’s mainly because I don’t want my dog to escape.
The car talked about here is a Toyota RAV4 Invincible 2.2 D-4D AWD automatic. It has a 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine which produces 148 horsepower. 0-62 takes 10 seconds, top speed is 115mph and it costs £29,305.