Our previous experience of the diesel RAV4 wasn’t overly positive, but happily, the new D-4D engine helps make a better case for the car. It pulls cleanly from around 1500rpm, making relaxed progress easy, and if you rev it harder it will accelerate onto a motorway slip road without too much fuss. Toyota claims 0-62mph in 9.6sec, which isn’t exactly going to get pulses racing but is more than enough for a family SUV.
If you do decide to access all the performance, the engine gets pretty vocal as you approach and pass 3000rpm. You’ll also find there’s a noticeable amount of wind and road noise as your speed increases, although not enough to turn conversations with passengers into a shouting match.
At lower speeds the RAV4 can feel firm in the way it deals with bumps and other road imperfections, although it’s never unbearable. As the speed increases, the ride smoothes out and becomes comfortable to the point where it’s no chore at all to rack up the miles.
Thanks to those stiff springs there’s minimal body roll in bends, which is especially impressive considering how tall the car is. Precise steering helps it feel keen to turn in, too, although there’s little feedback on offer through the rim. But while surprisingly capable in the turns, you’d never call the RAV4 fun; a Mazda CX-5 is still better.
Inside, Toyota claims to have improved the ‘sensory quality’ of the interior, although there’s still plenty of unyielding black plastic dotted around. Even so, the bits you touch mostly are soft-touch, while there’s metal-effect trim and (on our test car at least) faux leather to lift the dashboard a little. It may not be the plushest cabin around but it’s certainly well put together.
All models come with a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system that's easy enough to navigate. There’s little to no delay when moving between screens, but it’s not the most attractive system and some of the icons are too small to hit accurately while driving. You also get a 4.2in colour screen between the dials that provides a variety of additional info.
It’s spacious interior, too, and it’s easy enough to get comfortable up front, although only higher trim levels get adjustable lumbar support. Those in the back get loads of leg room, but anyone over six feet tall will feel the headlining on their scalp.
All models are fitted with reclining rear seats that can also be folded forwards easily. Even before you push the 60/40 split folding bench forwards, there’s a sizeable 547 litres of luggage capacity, rising to 1735 litres with the seats folded. The load bay isn’t totally flat, but there’s only a small incline leading up to the seat backs from the boot floor. Handily there’s also almost no load lip.