All RAV’ed Up: The 2014 Toyota RAV4 Review [Video]
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The RAV4 has been a compact SUV soft roading feature since 1994. Now in a 4th generation that proves just how far it’s come with the constantly developing market. The 2014 Toyota RAV4’s now plusher, bigger, smarter looking and more efficient. This reasonably affordable family soft-roader is trying to get back in touch with its small 4×4 roots.
The RAV4 has achieved a much more aggressive look over the years. It’s longer, wider and lower yet still maintains a sleek compact profile that defines this kind of car. The main change is evident at the front, where the latest ‘keen look’ design language has been spread liberally giving it a thoroughly modern style. In the cabin, there is a more stylized feel and quality has shot up several notches with nice materials and in interesting 3 tier dash that dominates the cabin and an eye catching metal arch that shoots up from the transmission tunnel and over the instruments to frame the driving position. The first tier of the dash gives you a rather old school digital time display, while the second tier houses a clear and effective infotainment system. The bad side of this domineering dashboard is that it hides away a number of buttons including the all-important Sport mode switch. The seat has improved a lot since the previous model – it’s now comfier, more adjustable and allows for a better field of view over the bonnet.
Interestingly enough the driver’s position is now 30mm lower which actually makes it hard to believe you’re sitting in any kind of SUV. Some will find it refreshing to have a position that feels more driver focused. The rear seating area really shines here as it has benefited greatly from the extra 100mm of expanded wheelbase to allow for extra space and knee room. The area should prove very comfortable for passengers, especially due to the fact that each seat reclines independently. Round the back, the boot hinges have moved from the side to the top so it opens in a practical skyward fashion rather than the distinctive but ultimately unwieldy fridge door style. The 2014 Toyota RAV4 has a good 547ltrs of cargo space back here with the option of extending this with the back seats down to a maximum capacity of 1746ltrs. There is also an underfloor compartment that serves as an extra 100ltr storage space or the place where the optional spare tyre lives.
The 2014 Toyota RAV4 is available with 3 forms of engine – the 122bhp 2.0ltr D4D 2WD diesel, the 148bhp 2.2ltr D4D 4WD diesel or the 149bhp 2.0ltr 4WD (available in automatic only). All get to 62mph from rest in about 10 seconds up to tops speeds between 111 and 118mph. The engineers at Toyota have rethought the oily bits to be a bit more in tune with its 4×4 roots so there is a stiffer body, revised electric steering and retuned suspension. The alterations are not so obvious in the base 2WD model, but the 4WD changes this as it allows you to redistribute the power between the wheels.
The ‘Sport’ button is incredibly important here as it powers the 2014 Toyota RAV4 around tight corners by forcing the power to the back as you turn. This completely fixes any understeering problems. The general steering and throttle response (and gear shift times if you spec it with automatic transmission) are vastly improved, giving it a much more spirited and dynamic drive.The 187mm ground clearance is severely limiting for those wishing to take on the Serengeti, but it should be proficient enough going through light stuff. If you plan on doing any towing, then its diesel power all the way due to its 2000kg brakes towing capacity.
All in all, what’s the lowdown with the 2014 Toyota RAV4? This car in its original form defined what the soft roading segment is all about and it still maintains those important virtues – smart, practical, reasonably roomy and relatively affordable with a dash of SUV-ness about it. The 4th generation builds on this with more space, technology, a plusher interior, cheaper running costs and a more dynamic drive. It’s hard to see what more they could’ve done to make this everything a Toyota RAV4 should be. One things for sure – it’s still up there with the best of this class and is definately one to consider when shopping for a good soft roader.
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