Toyota offers two engine options on the RAV4 (though there are actually three different designations) starting with the 2.0-litre Valvematic petrol. It’s the most powerful of the pair, developing 156bhp, though peak torque is just shy of 150lb ft. Regardless of this lowly figure, the petrol-powered RAV4 manages to complete the 0-60mph sprint in 11 seconds – though the rather lifeless power delivery makes it feel slower than it actually is. Still, there’s little complaint about this unit’s refinement, only becoming vocal at the top of its rev range.
A better option is the 2.2 diesel; it is available with a six-speed automatic gearbox lifted directly from the Toyota Avensis. In this case it is badged 2.2 D-CAT, though if you opt for a manual gearbox it is named D-4D. Regardless, the 148bhp turbodiesel hauls the chunky RAV4 along with reasonable verve, completing the 0-60mph benchmark in 10.2 seconds (10.0 dead if you opt for the 2WD model). Peak torque of 251lb ft means you can make the most of each gear, and the unit remains refined throughout the rev range.
Both gearboxes are easy to use, and though the automatic dulls performance slightly, it shifts smoothly and quickly, and you rarely find yourself stuck in the wrong ratio, even climbing up steep hills. Refinement on the whole is impressive. There is some road noise evident, which does detract from the experience slightly, but on the whole the RAV4 feels rather more sprightly than its not inconsiderable bulk might suggest.