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First Drive

First Drive: Toyota RAV4

The story:
Toyota’s latest RAV4 off-roader offers a reduced-BIK company car thanks to the hybrid powertrain.
Category:Small 4x4
Key rival:Honda CRV
Toyota RAV42.5 hybrid Excel 2WD
MPG:61.4 mpg
On sale:Now

Toyota’s new model splurge this year has included the Corolla and Camry, as well as premium brand Lexus’s ES and UX, and this new RAV4 off-roader.

All are powered by the firm’s ‘self-charging’ hybrid technology, where the battery generates its electricity from the engine or regeneration under braking, rather than needing to be plugged in.

The result is an impressive emissions figure of just 105g/km on this top-spec front-wheel drive Excel model, while the RAV4 can get as low as 101g/km in all-wheel-drive format, although the extra driven wheels come at an additional cost of £2240.

The new RAV’s styling is very angular and seems to take inspiration from Jeep with the flat wheelarch surrounds, as well as some cues that make it look as though it could be from a number of brands.

On the road, the hybrid system is, as is the case with the other new models the brand has launched this year, much improved but still not the most refined under acceleration, and there’s a surprising amount of wind noise at higher speeds. The pay-off comes with the silent low-speed running on the battery, which makes for pleasant urban motoring.

First Drive-June 2019-Toyota RAV4-Image 3Inside there’s plenty of space, likewise in the huge 580-litre boot, although the infotainment system suffers from Toyota’s continued inability to offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, making it look off-the-pace in terms of connectivity.

Still, residual values are excellent, the efficiency can trump rival diesels such as those of the Ford Kuga or Volkswagen Tiguan, as well as the Honda CR-V hybrid, and it’s a car that makes a lot of sense as a company vehicle.

Paul Barker

The verdict

Striking but divisive looks make a strong first impression, but it’s the low emissions and running costs that have the biggest impact.