RAV4 SR 2.2 D-4D D-CAT Auto
before the worst winter
weather on record for December
had arrived, sales of SUV and
4x4 vehicles were up. And one
in particular, Toyotas RAV4,
making light of the snowy
UK SALES OF SUVs AND 4X4s have shown a significant increase in 2010
as the buying public return to the 4x4 fold. Audi, BMW and Land Rover have all
reported increased sales for their 4x4s with long waiting lists well into 2011.
The introduction of new generation, lightweight models with more fuel efficient
engines has been the spark that has reignited interest and probably the foresight
by customers that we might just get another bad winter and, as it turned out
yet again, the inability of local authorities to keep our roads open and safe.
With 'global warming' now seeming to be just so much hot air and the anti-4x4
lobby hibernating, freedom of choice appeared to be alive and well. Only the
economic climate might freeze 4x4 sales this New Year as VAT increases along
with the price of fuel.
For me, Father Christmas arrived in the form of the delivery driver who braved
the snow-covered roads to get to my home on the Cotswolds a few days before
25 December to deliver, for a seasonal test drive, the very latest Toyota 4x4
the five-door, five-seater RAV4.
the 20% VAT rate now in force, RAV4 models range from £23,580 to £28,320. The
latest Euro 5 line-up has a two-wheel drive 2.2-litre D-4D 148bhp diesel-powered
version with a six-speed manual transmission added.
a closer look at the
RAV4s abilities it
could be the wisest thing
you ever did. It certainly
made me feel like a wise
man at Christmas
because I was moving on
the roads when others
This new version, with its low-ish CO2 emission level of 154g/km and XT-R trim
and equipment levels, has joined the range in response to the growth in demand
for 'crossover' type vehicles; cars that look like SUVs but with the low running
costs of a family-sized hatchback. This version carries the starting price for
the revised range along with an annual road tax bill of £155. Company car drivers
will pay 23% BIK tax.
RAV4 models with all-wheel drive use the same 2.2-litre diesel engine and incur
the same road tax and BIK costs as the new two-wheel drive version. For petrol
lovers there's a 2.0-litre, 156bhp, Valvematic unit with Toyota's Multidrive
S CVT auto transmission, all-wheel drive and XT-R trim. The price is £24,530
and road tax is £300 in the first year.
Top of the revised line-up are XT-R and SR specification, all-wheel drive versions
using the 2.2-litre D-4D turbodiesel unit but with a D-CAT four-way catalyst
system to reduce NOx and particulate emissions. They both use a six-speed automatic
gearbox as standard. These models cost £26,550 and £28,320 respectively. Both
will incur a hefty £425 first year road tax and £235 per year thereafter.
The latest RAV4 models gain a strong and distinctive new front-end design featuring
a fresh and wider grille with horizontal blades and chrome accents, framed by
new-look headlights and signature styling features of the latest Toyota models
such as Avensis and Verso. The headlights, which incorporate projector-type
low-beam lamps, are integrated into the new bonnet and front wing design which
emphasises the RAV4's wide track and refreshingly sporty appearance.
There's also a new, full-width, aerodynamically-styled front bumper which accentuates
the vehicle's stance. The addition of chrome accents to the grille, bonnet moulding
and fog lamp surrounds reinforces the premium quality of this new design.
The interior is also upgraded to a higher level, with an extra touch of luxury
for XT-R all-wheel drive models in the shape of a new leather and Alcantara
upholstery combination as standard, together with heated front seats. In addition,
both AWD and 2WD versions ride on new-design 17-inch alloy wheels.
introductions build on what are already generous specifications. Highlights
of the XT-R grade include cruise control, dual-zone climate control, automatic
headlights and wipers, six-speaker sound system, Bluetooth, seven airbags, Hill-start
Assist Control and rear privacy glass; AWD versions add Intelligent All-wheel
Drive with automatic or Multidrive S transmissions and Downhill Assist Control.
previously an extra-cost
option. This hi-tech
dedicated disc space
for owners to set up
The top-spec SR models also gain Toyota's hard-drive SatNav system, previously
an extra-cost option. This sophisticated navigation technology, which is also
optionally available on XT-R models, includes dedicated disc space for owners
to set up their own on-board 'jukebox' containing their favourite audio files.
Apart from good sounds, the five-door body offers decent load-lugging space:
586 to 1,469 litres.
My test drive RAV4 model, the SR version, is offered exclusively with the 2.2
D-4D D-CAT engine and six-speed automatic transmission and in addition to the
features listed for the XT-R, also comes with 18-inch dark-finish alloys, smoke-finish
headlamps, a reversing camera and a Start button.
The 2.2-litre D-CAT turbodiesel four-cylinder engine (used also in the Toyota
Avensis range) produces 148bhp and 251lb ft of torque, on tap between 2,000
and 2,800rpm. That's sufficient to tow 1,800kg braked as well as provide a strong
balance of performance and responsiveness combined with 39.8mpg in the combined
cycle with the SR spec's standard six-speed auto 'box.
In real life during the very cold weather and snow-covered roads at Christmas,
and the milder spell over the New Year holiday, my test car returned 31.8mpg.
That was for all types of driving, from locked 4x4 mode in snow and ice to motorway
journeys to stop-start family shopping trips as well as static early morning
de-icing periods. Once the weather warms up, that figure should improve to more
like the official one.
Excuse me now for getting 'technical', but the whole point of a useful 4x4 is
its drivetrain. Core technology, and the most praiseworthy, is the RAV4's all-wheel
drive system whether used with the manual or auto transmissions. My model had
the six-speed auto gearbox and many SUV customers will choose this set-up.
It's easier to use in good or bad weather and with less wear and tear in the
drivetrain off-roading or when towing. In standard Auto mode the changes are
fast and smooth and there's a selectable Sport mode for a more aggressive shift
pattern using AI-SHIFT Control (or Artificial Intelligence-Shift).
driver can also opt for sequential manual shifts. Slotting the selector lever
into M mode allows gears to be changed using the shift lever or paddle-shifts
on the steering wheel. This new six-speed Sports Direct Shift gives a more direct
feel and provides a lock-up function on second to sixth gears to provide as
wide a gear ratio range as possible. The result is a sporty drive like that
of a manual system.
driver can also opt
for sequential manual
shifts. Slotting the
selector lever into M
mode allows gears to be
changed using the shift
lever or paddle-shifts
on the steering wheel...
Sports Direct Shift also adds more driving fun with its 'blipping' feature:
this is achieved by controlling the injected volume of diesel and hydraulically
controlling the clutch, and contributes to extremely fast downshift times.
Also included in the drivetrain is the Integrated Active Drive System. This
takes a series of separate vehicle technologies and, using high-speed data communications,
combines them into a single package.
The three elements in the system are Active Torque Control four-wheel drive,
Steering-Assist Vehicle Stability Control and Electric Power Steering.
The Active Torque Control system continuously monitors and controls the transfer
of torque between the front and rear wheels, and is standard on all RAV4 models.
Instead of a conventional centre differential, electronic sensors are used to
monitor information from the throttle angle, engine torque and speed, gear ratio,
vehicle speed and steering angle. This allows RAV4 to switch between front-
and four-wheel drive modes to ensure stability in all driving conditions and
reduce fuel consumption.
When moving off from standstill, the vehicle requires maximum traction and acceleration
so the system automatically and seamlessly distributes the torque to both front
and rear wheels in a front:rear ratio up to 55:45.
In normal driving conditions, the system can switch from four- to front-wheel
drive to help fuel economy. The distribution can then vary between 100:0 (front
wheels only) and 55:45 front-to-rear to meet different driving demands.
addition to the Active Torque Control, the driver can lock the torque distribution
to 55:45 using the AWD lock button on the dash. This can help free the vehicle
should an individual wheel lose grip in off-road conditions. Once vehicle speed
exceeds 25mph, the system is automatically switched off. This function was of
real-life use during my driving over snow and ice covered roads and a vital
part of the RAV4's very sophisticated all-wheel drive system.
the RAV4's system might lack the low ratio drive found on heavyweight 4x4s or
the medium-sized Suzuki Grand Vitara (which I also rate highly), RAV4 models
fitted with automatic transmission have a function called Downhill Assist Control
to help out and it's available simply by pushing a button.
the RAV4 lacks
the low ratio drive found
on heavyweight 4x4s,
RAV4 models fitted with
have Downhill Assist
Control to help out
by pushing a button...
During a steep descent, the engine braking force alone might not be sufficient
to reduce speed. Downhill Assist automatically applies appropriate hydraulic
pressure to the brakes to maintain a constant low speed without locking the
wheels. This increases control when descending slopes off-road.
Most vehicles' various stability control elements, such as ABS braking, traction
control and power steering, work independently of each other. Toyota's VSC+
system, however, integrates these functions and then works with the Active Torque
Control to control not only the speed of individual wheels but also to add steering
torque assistance to help the driver correct a skid. It anticipates a skid,
understeer or oversteer and assists the driver by making the correct steering
action easier and the incorrect action more difficult. 'Nannying' and intrusive
it is not; helpful it most certainly is.
With hordes of new crossovers coming onto the market, but mainly only with two-wheel
drive traction, and a few new-generation SUV 4x4s which are designed only for
occasional tough going, the latest RAV4 can easily be overlooked or dismissed
by the unwise.
So take a closer look at the RAV4's abilities; it could be the wisest thing
you ever did. It certainly made me feel like a wise man at Christmas because
I was moving on the roads when others were not.
So what's not to like? The price, actually it seems that even
medium-sized 4x4s are getting expensive to buy. The RAV4's also expensive to
tax, has a firm ride and does not have the brand desirability of the Land Rover
On the sunny side, the RAV4 offers smart looks, is well equipped, its all-wheel
drive system is first class and easy to use (and made easy work of the snowy
and icy conditions) and has a nice to use auto 'box. It's also tough and selling
well. David Miles
Toyota RAV4 SR 2.2 D-4D D-CAT Auto | £28,320
Maximum speed: 115mph | 0-62mph: 10.8 seconds | Overall Test MPG:
Power: 148bhp | Torque: 251lb ft | CO2 189g/km