2014 Toyota RAV4 Tested by autoevolution

2014 Toyota RAV4 1 photo
Photo: autoevolution
Being known for inventing the crossover utility vehicle (CUV) segment back in 1994, the Toyota RAV4 reached its fourth generation this year, coming with more style, both inside and outside, as well as improved dynamics and new equipment.

Design wise, the new RAV4 keeps its conservative lines but you can still see some neat transformations. Starting with the biggest change, the front fascia became bolder, being more influenced by the Keen Look design language Toyota uses now. This means that the headlights and upper grille are defined and contained in between two arched lines flowing onto the vehicle’s quarters, while down bellow you can see a wide trapezoidal grille guarded by foglights on each side.

The side lines got a bit revised, the designers amplifying the sharpness of the waistline that ends with some horizontally-oriented new taillights. And since we are at the back, you cannot unsee the fact that the spare wheel is missing from the tailgate, leaving it to open upwards now and even feature an adjustable electrical opening system. The spare wheel has been relocated under the luggage area and despite this, the RAV4 still manages to offer 38.4 cubic feet (547 liters) and one of the lowest loadspace height in the segment.

Now that we took an exterior tour, let’s step inside and be amazed by the changes done here. The first thing that hits you is the muscular, American design. The horizontally oriented asymmetric dashboard now features more soft touch materials and a new infotainment system in the middle. The instrument cluster, housed under the nicely shaped dashboard part that continues its shape downwards into the central console, features three sporty, simple to read gauges, with the center one showing the speed, the left keeping you informed with the engine revs while the right one shows the fuel level. Other information can be obtained through the small digital display contained by the middle ring.

All the controls are easy to reach and most materials feel nice to touch - from the leather on the steering wheel and gear shifter, to the SofTex on the seats and armrests. The new RAV4 also tries to ditch the standard plastic in some areas and replace it with what other likes to refer to as “fake carbon fiber.” I personally don’t like to consider it a cheap carbon fiber wannabe, but think to it more as a crappy plastic replacement. You know, Toyota is trying to attract younger buyers and what makes them flee faster than cheap, nasty resonating, plain plastic? See, the “carbon fiber fake” doesn’t seem that ugly now.

Having accommodated in the driver’s seat, let’s see what the 2.2-liter D-4D engine our tester had can do. Well, after pressing the start button and revving it a bit, you could swear it’s not a diesel engine. Its sound is very refined and vibrations are well contained outside the cabin, while the 150 hp and 340 Nm of torque seems to suit the CUV pretty well. The power is sent to the front wheels via a manual six speed gearbox enabling the car to sprint from 0 to 60 miles (96 km/h) in 8.9 seconds.

I had the chance to test the new RAV4 mostly on smooth asphalt, where it seems to be right in its element, with the high driving position enabling you to clearly see around and gain confidence to step on the gas. The car also came with a Dynamic Torque Control AWD system that could send power to the rear when the front wheels slip. Pressing the Sport button, the torque delivery transforms to 90:10 and if the car understeers it goes un to 50:50.

At the safety chapter, the 2014 Toyota RAV4 got awarded with the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick, while the Euro NCAP rated it five stars. The car comes with 8-airbags, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and more assisting gizmos for the automatic version.

Wrapping it all up, I say Toyota did a great job with the new RAV4. It may look like a new Auris on steroids on the outside, but stepping inside and putting some miles on the clock, you’ll get the feeling of driving a baby Land Cruiser for less than half of the latter’s price.

However, don’t forget to check out our full testdrive and complete photo gallery here.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories