Approach the new Toyota RAV4 from the front and the bloodline is evident: the bluff nose, broad, swept-back lights and grille are reminiscent of the previous model. Move further back and the changes become more obvious. In profile the doors are cleaner cut, losing the characteristic scallop line, and the wheelarches better integrated into the overall shape. It’s left to the rear three-quarters to inject a modern touch: the curved rear light clusters arching along the rear flanks and the rear window line kicking upwards.

Still, despite its age the RAV4 remains a distinctive choice in the segment, and we can certainly see its appeal. And that’s an appeal born out of its ride height – you see, the distance your average soft-roader driver sits higher than their counterpart in a regular hatchback is only 20 centimetres. The greater vantage point and the subjective feeling of greater security it provides is at the root of the soft-roader’s appeal and the reason for the segement’s popularity. And we can understand why: the RAV4 blends elements of 4x4 and normal car to great effect, the height giving easy access to the cabin while the familiar car-like dash makes the driver feel at home.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The rear door doesn't open fully due to crash-protection restraints, but this restrains loading and rivals don't seem to have the same problem

It’s not as modern as a Kia Sportage, or as funky as a Skoda Yeti, but there’s no doubt the RAV4 still manages to stand out in the crowd as it looks more muscular and grown-up than many rivals.

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