Nearly two decades after the first model appeared, the Toyota RAV4 is still firmly in the sights of compact SUV buyers – with plenty of justification. Not only does it boast a five-year warranty, but that peace of mind is backed up by the firm’s reputation for solidity and reliability.

However, the interior plastics look far better than they feel, and many contemporary rivals have moved this part of the game on in recent years. It is still relatively flexible in there, and we like the amount of stowage areas, but that’s not enough to lift it above the class best.

60/40 split rear seats can be folded from the boot - a useful touch

The same could be said for the RAV4’s handling, which at the time was certainly up there with the best when launched. It still changes direction gamely, with decent body control, but is let down by artificial steering and a greater tendency to understeer than rivals like the Ford Kuga or Skoda Yeti.

But the new engine and gearbox combinations from the Avensis make it more pleasant to drive than ever, the 2.2-litre diesel offering the best of both worlds in terms of economy as well as performance – even when mated to the six-speed automatic gearbox.

All trim levels are generously equipped too, which makes the RAV4 good value, and overall, in isolation, the RAV4 makes a lot of sense. However many of this car’s rivals, in an admittedly competitive market segment, are now comfortably superior in almost every sense. The result is it’s hard to truly recommend the RAV4. The replacement can’t come soon enough.

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