CHOICE tested the five-seater, mid-level Toyota RAV4 AWD model with a 2.5L engine. We also lent it to CHOICE staffer Jen Paterson and her family, James and Harper, for a weekend visit to Wollongong in New South Wales and to run some errands around the city.
The Patersons say:
Accessing the rear seats is easy, as is getting our three-year-old daughter, Harper, in and out. It would also be fine with a baby capsule. The rear seating doesn’t look wide enough for three child seats, but was fine for Harper. The child seat anchors are easy to locate, mounted on the back of each chair.
When Harper is fastened in, she has enough room when the driver's seat is back as far as possible. The boot space is a little restricted, and can only fit a large pram. We don't think fitting a large bicycle would be possible. We also found that the electric window controls are within Harper's reach.
The car is easy to drive, with good handling and a roomy cabin. We particularly like the USB outlet, however it would be better situated in the middle console rather than the central console below the radio. Other than that the layout of the controls on the steering wheel and dash is good.
Steering is well weighted and there is good communication between the driver and the car. We think the fuel economy is pretty good for such a large and heavy car – better than the previously reviewed Honda CRV and Subaru Forester. The six-speed automatic works well. The ride is sure-footed, although a bit on the firm side.
The front seats are supportive and comfortable on a long trip. There was lots of side support for both pew and backrest. Noise in the cabin is low while driving on both smooth and coarse roads. The interior is a mix of different surfaces and finishes, and while it's not unattractive, it's not attractive either.
The floor of the boot space comes up a fair bit, which is due to the presence of a full-size spare tyre. On previous models, the wheel was mounted on the boot door. Rear seats fold down to almost flat by moving a lever. There was good all-round visibility.
Ease of driving and good handling won over the Patersons, but they have more boot space in their small wagon. Our tester was impressed overall with the seats, performance and economy for a big and heavy car, but thought the cargo area was compromised by the full-size spare.
Cost: from $31,990
Fuel usage claim vs measured per 100km: 8.6L vs 7.5L
Acceleration to 100km/h: 9.3s
Braking distance from 60km/h: 15.3m
ANCAP safety rating: 5 stars out of 5