A week with a Toyota RAV4

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ToyotaRAV4_1Day 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.

ToyotaRAV4_2Day 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.


  1. 148hp from a 2.2l diesel?! When did Toyota design this engine? 1999?

    Anyway, as far as trim level adjectives go ‘Invincible’ must be approaching the zenith. Well done, Toyota blokes/blokesses.

    Also, with all these f̶r̶e̶e̶ ̶c̶a̶r̶s̶ generous manufacturer reviews you seem to be getting, when was the last time you actually drove your own car, Mr P?

  2. Since you ask, yesterday.

  3. I now realise that looks like a Sniff Petrol picture caption. But I really did drive my own car yesterday.

    In other matters, all of these soft roaders have 2- or 2.2-litre diesel engines and almost all of them seem to produce 150PS (or 148bhp in old money). It’s rival product benchmarking madness.

  4. You are good at this.
    Ever thought about applying for a job in the motoring industry?

    P.S. I still want a Dab Of Oppo t-shirt.

  5. 148 bhp from a 2.2 diesel isn’t too shocking anyway. It’s what people would have called “under-stressed” in the old days. Since diesels are getting uber-complicated these days I kinda prefer it when they don’t push their luck by aiming for huge hp/litre figures.

  6. it’s a Toyota , they’re crap!

  7. Have they still got the stupid side opening tail gate??

  8. Day 6 had me in stitches, very good indeed.

  9. The front end resembles an angry Kabuki theatre mask. Hmph.

  10. Six years since I first encountered an electric tailgate on a rented Lincoln Navigator in the US. At the time I hoped they’d stay in the land of laziness and lawsuits, but no chance. The only good bit is hitting the remote open button on the key fob as you approach your SUV in the car park at Sainsbury’s in the hope of frightening other shoppers.

  11. See you ladyboy?

    You shop at Saynzeberrys ‘n think you’re cool?

    Whatz wrong with Morrissonz?

    Your SUV will not SUVIVE!!! (GEDDIT?)

    U PLONKAH !!!

  12. u don’t fryten me mister

  13. OOOeeer-pleez don’t hit yer key fob.

    And WOW you’ve been to the US?

    RESPECT !!!

  14. RE: Day 3 – not all of them have superb door fits, surprisingly.
    A guy at work bought one to replace an awful Urban Cruiser. The doors on his RAV4 fit rather better on the offside than the nearside – I assume it must have been a Friday afternoon effort?

    On the subject of excellent door fits/shutlines, no car
    including various VW, Lexus, Audi, Mazda etc beats a 2004 Vauxhall Meriva in the carpark, despite it being probably the worst there, (along with a ratty MINI Cooper D)

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