New car review

Toyota RAV4 review

Can the all-new Toyota RAV4 do more than carry a torch for hybrid cars?


The RAV4 is a compelling package. Its on-road performance is highly competent, and the economy and emissions will be particularly appealing to those coming out of diesel vehicles.

Review overview

Value for money


The RAV4 is a compelling package. Its on-road performance is highly competent, and the economy and emissions will be particularly appealing to those coming out of diesel vehicles.

60-second summary

What is it?
The new Toyota RAV4 is the fifth-generation model of Toyota’s mid-sized SUV, mostly bought as a hybrid

Key features
Hybrid drivetrain
Complete redesign outside and in
Strong safety package

Our view
The new Toyota RAV4 combines both the latest hybrid powertrain and the updating opportunities provided by an all-new platform to produce a compelling package.

Its on-road performance is highly competent, and the economy and emissions will be particularly appealing to those coming out of diesel vehicles.

Similar cars
Nissan Qashqai, Honda CR-V, Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Kuga

2019 Toyota RAV4 hybrid with wind turbines

Full review


We know that SUVs are all the rage and the broadest choice of all is in the ‘largish’ segment, known as the D-segment in motor industry parlance. Here you can pay anything from £20,000 to £42,000 for your muscled-up wheels.

Problem is, much of the choice on offer uses diesel engines, and now no-one wants diesels. The petrol options are often high-power models, with the mpg and emissions pain that results. But there is an alternative…

The Toyota RAV4 has been around since 1992, and for a long time like those rivals offered plenty of diesel powertrains – in 2015, for example, 88% of RAV4s sold were oil burners.

In the following year, however, Toyota extended its petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain, made famous by the Prius, to the RAV4, and more than half of them sold in 2016 were hybrids. Last year it was up to 91%…

Now there’s an all-new fifth-generation RAV4. It’s built on the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform, and that means a distinctly different, much sleeker look and more space inside, a lower centre of gravity and a much more rigid shell for better handling. It comes with more tech and more safety.

But the headline? You can only buy the RAV4 as a hybrid.

Buying and owning a Toyota RAV4

While two-wheel-drive cars now dominate the SUV market, all-wheel drive is still more popular in the plus £30,000 segment that the RAV4 sits in – not for charging off into a field or a snowdrift, but for adding an extra sense of security on rain-soaked or icy winter days.

The new RAV4 offers both front (FWD) and all-wheel (AWD) drive in its powertrains, though it’s predicted more than two-thirds of buyers will opt for traction on all corners. The base Icon grade, which costs from £29,635 and is only available in FWD, is expected to attract just 5% of buyers.

Notable amongst the standard specification are LED headlamps, parking sensors and a rear-view camera. This is viewed through the eight-inch screen of Toyota’s Touch 2 infotainment system, again standard across the range, as is a seven-inch digital display screen ahead of the driver.

Top marks, however, to the Toyota Safety Sense package. This second-generation suite of driver aids includes autonomous emergency braking which now will also detect pedestrians at night and cyclists during the day, an intelligent adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition. And every RAV4 gets this package.

The new RAV4 hasn’t been Euro NCAP crash-tested yet but it’s hard to see it getting anything other than a top five-star rating, as its predecessor did in 2013.

It costs £1,555 to move up to the Design trim, expected to be the most popular model, and another £2,240 to have a Design in 4WD. The extras include alloy wheels an inch bigger, keyless entry, a powered tailgate and front parking sensors.

There’s a distinct choice of range toppers – the luxury-pitched Excel or the Dynamic with its styling add-ons. Excel buyers do get a fair amount of extra tech for their extra £2,240, including two driver aids not in the standard safety package, a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.

Continued on next page: Interior, drive experience and our verdict

Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

More from The Car Expert

Expert Advice

Award-winning, independent and impartial advice on buying, financing, owning and running a car

Expert Ratings

We analyse and aggregate dozens of media reviews for each new car into an overall Expert Rating

New Cars

All the most important new car launches, model updates and car reviews


The latest news from all the major car brands and across the automotive industry

Latest advice

Christmas bargains for clever car buyers

As another year winds down, many car dealers are getting nervous. if you're in the market to buy, you could get a great new car deal this Christmas.

Petrol, hybrid or electric: what gets you motoring?

As we set course for banning new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, what are your power choices for buying a new car right now?

Latest ratings

Mazda 2

The Mazda 2 has received generally positive media reviews, although it's no longer considered to rank among the best in its class.

Volvo S60

The Volvo S60 has received widespread praise for its design and outstanding safety. However, it doesn't drive as nicely as a BMW 3 Series.

Latest new cars

Jaguar E-Pace updated with new hybrid powertrains

Jaguar has given its compact E-Pace SUV a mid-life refresh, bringing a range of new hybrid powertrains as well as a variety of updates.

Fiat confirms pricing and specification for electric 500

The new electric Fiat 500 will cost from £19,995 (after the plug-in car grant) when it goes on sale in the UK early next year.

Latest news

Regulator confims new coronavirus car finance measures

The Financial Conduct Authority has set out new car finance measures to help borrowers affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Banning petrol and diesel cars: what does it mean?

The UK government has announced that new petrol and diesel car sales will end from 2030. Here's what you need to know.


What are your thoughts? Let us know below.