Originally a trailblazer for the compact SUV breed, the Toyota RAV4 has grown up to become one of the most rounded cars on the market.
It’s also among the more populous cars, which is good news for used buyers because it means plenty of choice. Toyota has sold more than 10 million RAV4s worldwide since its launch in 1994.
Although it arrived in early 2019 with a new exterior design, the RAV4’s most significant changes were under the bonnet. In place of a selection of purely petrol and diesel engines, the new car was launched with a ‘self-charging’ hybrid powertrain.
With 25 years of electrification experience under Toyota’s belt, it’s no surprise that it’s an effective unit. Consisting of a 2.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, it produces 215bhp and emits 102g/km of CO2 in front-wheel-drive guise. That’s good for 0-62mph in 8.4sec, which is quicker than the equivalent hybrid Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento. Four-wheel-drive cars, meanwhile, have 219bhp, emit 103g/km and cover 0-62mph in 8.1sec.
For a potentially even more economical proposition, look to the RAV4 plug-in hybrid, which was added to the line-up in 2019. It’s our favourite of the two powertrains and made up of the same 2.5-litre petrol engine but this time paired with a stronger electric motor for a hefty 302bhp.
As well as an impressive all-electric official range of 46 miles, it offers hot hatch pace: 0-62mph is completed in just 6.0sec – significantly faster than the Land Rover Discovery Sport P300e and the Volkswagen Tiguan eHybrid.
Despite its rapid acceleration, the RAV4’s best qualities shine through at more reserved speeds. When driven conservatively, the car is relaxing, comfortable and efficient, particularly in plug-in guise.