What is it?
It’s undoubtedly poor form to judge a book by its cover. But after casting your eyes over this new fifth-generation Toyota RAV4, you’d be hard-pressed to deny that company boss Akio Toyoda’s goal of making Toyota great again is gathering a serious amount of momentum.
Admittedly, a D-segment, family-oriented SUV such as this is never going to capture the imagination of red-blooded driving enthusiasts in quite the same way the Toyota GT86, Toyota Yaris GRMN and recently revealed Toyota GR Supra might. But from a design perspective, the new RAV4 certainly does some serious damage to the increasingly fading stereotype that Toyota is a purveyor of boring, forgettable cars.
Just as with its smaller sibling, the CH-R, describing the new RAV4’s overall aesthetic as ‘divisive’ is far from an unfair call; there will undoubtedly be those who find the SUV’s bold new image distasteful. There will also be those who, like me, really rather like its staunch, angular new look. Those square wheel arches - à la anything with a Jeep badge on its nose - are a particular highlight.
Of course, this striking new image brings with it a handful of dimensional alterations too. The RAV4’s roofline is now 10mm closer to the ground, and its wheelbase has been stretched by 30mm, too, with a view to increasing rear leg room. Its body is stiffer than that of its predecessor, while its centre of gravity is also lower down - which should bode well for the way in which it handles the twisty stuff.
Central to all of this is Toyota’s shiny new TNGA GA-K platform. The RAV4 is the first Toyota to be launched on this architecture, although the Lexus ES also sits on this same foundation. Suspension is by way of MacPherson struts up front, while a double wishbone arrangement is used at the rear.
In a similar vein to Honda and its CR-V, diesel power has vanished without a trace. Unlike the CR-V - which can be had with a regular petrol engine - the RAV4 is hybrid only in the UK.
Central to this powertrain is a 2.5-litre, naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine. In our front-wheel-drive test car, this was paired with a CVT and an electric motor for a combined system output of 215bhp. All-wheel-drive models gain a second electric motor at the rear, which lifts total poke to 219bhp.