As Toyota sees it, has the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga and Seat Ateca at one end and the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Range Rover Evoque at the other. And as ever with a fast-moving industry such as the automotive one, competitors are replaced and new ones arrive as is the case with the Volvo XC60 and the Range Rover Velar.
Putting the Toyota RAV4's in its place
If you plot a graph comparing the price and overall length of every small and medium-size 4x4 you can think of – from the Hyundai Tuscon to the Audi Q5 – this new Toyota marks the very centre, the sweet spot. That’s where the Japanese firm expects the most demand for SUVs to exist over the next five years.
'Wieldiness' was always something the RAV4 did well. It’s never been a big, cumbersome car; in fact, it used to be shorter than a modern supermini. And Toyota’s own market research confirms that owners still value its relative manoeuvrability
This new one has had 100mm added to the wheelbase, though, and 205mm in overall length. It’s much more practical for it, of course, and it now measures up as a proper medium-sized SUV on the inside. Toyota also claims its 10.6-metre turning circle is still class-leading. But it’s also, somehow, lost a bit of its individuality.
Outwardly, to these eyes, the car looks very ‘modern Toyota’, but not very ‘modern RAV4’. You can blame some of that on the stretched proportions. The rear end in particular looks ungainly and odd, and a couple of trademark RAV4 cues are missing here: the door-mounted spare wheel, not to mention the side-hinged rear door it mounted to in years gone by.
Toyota says a roof-hinged hatchback makes more practical sense, and it’s probably right. But there goes another identifying point of difference.
Specifying your Toyota RAV4
Inside, the RAV4’s upright classic SUV driving position was next in line for the chop. You can now sit up to 30mm lower than you could. That puts you closer to the centre of roll, which ought to be a good thing, but somehow it makes the RAV4 experience that bit more humdrum: less Range Rover, more StreetRover.
The cabin is pleasant, roomy and apparently solidly constructed, although it lacks much in the way of flair. The plastics look and feel impressive. We could live without the fake leather on the steering wheel boss and the mock carbonfibre on the centre console, but such things are subjective.