The Toyota RAV4
There have been big changes since the RAV4 first arrived back in 1994. Then it was the first ever, cool and urban-focused SUV. It was fun to drive! Now in the fifth generation, the RAV4 has morphed into an established urban family SUV. As far as Toyota is concerned, it’s a move that has served it well – globally they sell not far short of a million a year. Toyota makes RAV4s for people that need a family SUV. It gives them hybrid power plants because it lowers their running costs. It makes sure they’re reliable, and so people buy them by the thousands – it is the modern families practical SUV.
The new GA-K platform has improved body stiffness by 57 per cent. That matters because the extra shell strength lowers cabin noise and allows for improved ride quality. The centre of gravity has been lowered, and so body control is better. This time the whole range is hybrid in the UK.
The 2.5-litre petrol engine is new, with no turbo but using Atkinson cycle valve timing as favoured by Toyota for its hybrids. It’s got the usual clever Toyota variable epicyclic power-split motor/generator transmission which is what delivers the fantastic efficiency and you can have electric rear drive if you’ve ticked the AWD box. But all these components have been worked over to lose weight and friction, and the rear motor is strong enough to produce the majority of the car’s torque at low speeds. Overall system power is now 215bhp, or 221bhp for the AWD. Both will get to 62mph in the early-eight-second range.
There’s no diesel at all. But if you think hybrids can’t do towing, note the AWD can haul a 1,650kg braked trailer, which isn’t too shabby. All versions get a comprehensive bank of driver assist and safety kit. That includes radar and camera-based warning and braking for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. There’s also road-sign recognition, radar cruise control and steering assist for lane centring, and LED headlights but blind-spot and cross-traffic warning come only half-way up the range.
Appearance and Styling
The progressive outside styling meets a reasonably distinctive cabin – big blocky shapes conveying the sort of robust terrain that SUV drivers are presumably inhabiting. It’s nicely finished too. The dash and door tops are skinned in a stitched padding and several of the knobs and door pulls have a tactile striped rubber wrap. The front seats feel like a homely place to sink into. They’re heated and cooled in some versions, and the driver’s electrically adjusts.
Visibility in the RAV4 is good: the windscreen pillars aren’t too thick so your vision isn’t badly obscured at roundabouts, and the rear screen is both wide and deep. The rearmost side windows give you a clue of what’s over your shoulders, There’s still a thick rear pillar on each side that obscures potential hazards when reversing, but a reversing camera is standard, even from entry-level Icon trim. Upgrade to Design trim and you’ll get parking sensors at the front, too. Another welcome feature is the RAV4’s standard LED headlights.
Information Systems and Controls
Infotainment is undoubtedly the RAV4’s biggest letdown. The problem is the hardware, because the 8.0in touchscreen is quite low in definition compared to what’s available in rivals. The screen is positioned nice and high up on the dashboard, meaning you don’t need to divert your eyes far from the road to view it. You get a DAB radio and Bluetooth on all versions of the Quality,and the JBL stereo that’s optional on the posher trim levels delivers good sound quality.
Most of the materials on the upper surfaces look smart and feel plush. In short, the RAV4 feels more upmarket inside so expect the low resolution infotainment screen to get an upgrade in the future.
Front leg and head room are fine. The RAV4’s interior is broad, so you won’t feel your passenger encroaching into your personal space.
There are lots of storage options, too, including a reasonable-sized bin under the front armrest, decent-sized door bins, a couple of cup holders and trays in the dashboard, for items such as keys or a mobile phone.
The RAV4 is a large car, dwarfing the likes of others in the group category, so you aren’t going to hear cries of discomfort from your rear passengers. However, there isn’t a seven seat option for the RAV4 which larger families may be disappointed with.
The Toyota RAV4 boasts a bigger boot than most of its rivals. You can, of course, fold down the rear seats when you need extra space – this creates an enormous load bay that’s perfect for the odd big load trip.
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The RAV4 is priced broadly in line with its closest rival, the Honda CR-V Hybrid. The extra technology in hybrid cars makes them more expensive to build, so this isn’t surprising. Besides, you’ll make some of that cost back in fuel savings.
However, it’s for the company car users that the RAV4 is really attractive. The RAV4s incredibly low CO2 emissions (much lower than petrol, diesel or other hybrids in the group),as low as 101g/km of CO2 means you’ll reap the rewards in benefit in kind (BIK) tax payments. It’s also worth noting that the RAV4 is expected to depreciate slower than other rivals.
Equipment, options and extras
It might be pricier to buy than some rivals, but equipment levels are high in return. All models come with adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate control, alloy wheels, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding door mirrors and rear privacy glass. It’s still worth stepping up to Design grade, though, to gain some of the options, from front parking sensors to sat-nav, as well as further additions such as bigger alloys and keyless entry. The higher trims, Excel and Dynamic, are very well equipped, with niceties including leather trim, a heated steering wheel and heated seats.
It’s unlikely you’ll need to worry about your RAV4 breaking down, or at least that’s what Toyota’s reliability record would suggest. In the 2018 What Car? Reliability Survey, Toyota came third out of 31 brands, behind only Lexus (which is owned by Toyota anyway) and Suzuki. That’s pretty impressive. As back-up, you also get a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty which is better than you get as standard on most of its rivals.
Safety and security
The RAV4 has received an excellent rating from Euro NCAP. Not only does it get the full five stars overall, but if you look at the scores in each category it racks up some of the highest in the class — better than its rivals. In other words, it’s one of the safest cars in the large SUV class.
Whilst the RAV4 may seem to be less inspiring to drive compared to its rivals, its real benefits lie in the excellent equipment, the famed Toyota reliability, its significant cost savings during its use, and resale value.
The RAV4 is fairly ordinary to drive, but its strong points lie elsewhere. For a start it’s well equipped and expected to be incredibly reliable (as Toyotas generally are). But its real selling points are costs. Yes, it’s a little pricier to buy than some other large SUVs, but you should make that back down the line through its strong resale values and all round efficiency. If you’re a company car driver, the RAV4 should work out to be one of the cheapest large SUVs on company car tax, too.
Hippo Leasing offers a huge range of Toyotas on new or used lease deals. As these Toyotas become available during 2019 you can find them on our dedicated Toyota leasing page here as they make their debut or email us on[email protected] to learn more.
Toyota GRSupra 3.0 litre
It’s been 21 years since the Supra badge was last available new. The question is: “Has the Supra grown up and become a boring adult, or does it still retain the youthfulness and joy of its past?”
The answer is, a little of both.
For a start, it’s not entirely a Toyota, but think of it as the product of an exacting German father and a fussy ( in a good way) Japanese Mother . It is built on a BMW Z4 chassis, with BMW’s straight 6 engine and drivetrain, so it has the best of German engineering coupled with Japanese attention to detail, trim and styling. Having said that, the Japanese engineers have tweaked the set up configuration to suit their needs. Toyota had to find a partner to bring back the Supra, and BMW was the obvious choice for them to avoid having to build a new 6 cylinder engine, which would have been totally uneconomic, hence the 3.0 litre 6 cylinder turbo petrol you also find in the Z4.
Because the Supra matters to the Japanese, being part of the same culture that brought the Nissan GTR and the Honda NSX to the world, their engineers had to impart their own stamp on a vehicle that, lets face it, would be more German than local.
Have they succeeded?
The Supra is better looking than the Z4, no doubt about it. It’s well proportioned, voluptuous, you know exactly where the engine is and which are the driven wheels .
Under the bonnet sits BMW’s B58 single turbo 3.0-litre straight six, retuned by Toyota, but still developing identical power figures (335bhp and 369lb ft of torque) to the Z4 M40i. This is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. 0-60mph takes 4.3secs, top speed is 155mph. Only two seats inside, hatchback boot at the rear. The body is more rigid than the Lexus LFA’s, weight distribution is 50:50.
Driving it shows that by comparison to the Z4, it is more responsive, well connected, quick and crisp, and really does feel completely different to the Beemer.
There are a few compromises. Driven hard, you get some brake fade and the 8 speed auto box (although good) does take away some of the sport heritage of these types of cars. Paddle downshifts appear slightly delayed and some surge in upshifts. That said, you go into corners and out of them exactly where you point the beast. It doesn’t seem to know what understeer or oversteer is in normal driving. Push it and you will get oversteer, but there is enough power to control it. The ride is also surprisingly smooth, and you can enjoy long trips in this vehicle. Which brings us to weight. It’s more agile than the 1,495kg kerb weight would suggest, and it’s 115kg lighter than the equivalent Z4, the 1610kg M40i.
If you’re a Beemer fan, you are going to love the inside of the Supra. Pure BMW inside. Because of the engine and drivetrain, Toyota had to install all the management hardware and software, which meant their IDrive, inclusive of screens, graphics USB slots,switchgear, heating controls, door handles and even the steering wheel. Toyota supplied the rev counter!
The seats are great, and so is the driving position. Visibility is generally good all round except over your shoulder, which is pretty much on par for these types of vehicles. Boot space is also adequate for a touring 2 person car at 290 litres.
The infotainment system,being BMW, is good – better than any Toyota system- and you get a rear camera, electric Alcantara seats with heating and cooling, 10-speaker audio, sat nav, adaptive LED lights, adaptive suspension, and active differential, adaptive cruise.
Model Toyota GR Supra 3.0
Engine 3.0 litre 6cyl turbo petrol
Transmission 8 speed auto RWD
0 – 62mph 4.3 seconds
Top Speed 155mph
Price £53k basic
The Japanese have built a better Beemer. The new GRSupra is a well made, competent Grand Tourer; a prettier and more attractive version of its half brother the Z4. It’s not frightened of difficult technical roads, motorways or track days. Get over the mixed heritage and enjoy it for what it is and what it can do.
Hippo Leasing offer a huge range of Toyotas on new or used lease deals. As these Toyotas become available during 2019 you can find them on our dedicated Toyota leasing page here or email us on [email protected] to learn more.