Toyota RAV4 XT-R 2.2 D-CAT Auto (2012) road test review

Toyota RAV4 XT-R 2.2 D-CAT Auto (2012) road test review

The TotallyMotor Verdict


This is the third-generation Toyota RAV4 compact SUV – the smaller four-wheel-driver that started it all 1994, and I think it’s fair to say that it’s all grown up. This current model had a facelift refresh in 2011 and we’re looking at the biggest – although it’s still compact – and most refined in design RAV4 yet.

This TotallyMotor test car sits mid-level of three in the RAV4 range and including the bronze-brown optional metallic paint (£450), we’re looking at a compact SUV with an on-the-road pricetag of £27,800. That’s a fair chunk of change, but there are many high-end comfort features on this car, such as leather and Alcantara seating, lots of electric adjustment, climate control and a cooled glovebox. There is also a real-deal four-wheel drive system with full electronic and mechanical back up systems, for all you mudslingers out there.


Toyota RAV4 XT-R 2.2 D-CAT Auto 2012 road test review

First impressions:
The original RAV4s we’re quite quirky in their styling, but this third-gen car is very cleanly and calmly designed, with boldness reserved for the large chrome front grille, modern projector-style headlights and chunky, squarely-defined lines. This optional metallic paint colour looks very classy over the RAV4’s clean lines.

As I’ve said, this is a real-deal four-wheel drive SUV so it sits high on its long-travel suspension and those 17-inch, 6-spoke alloys shod in high-sidewall tyres ensure that drivers get the taller driving position they want from a compact SUV. But, with the RAV4’s rugged reputation, we know that there’s mechanical brawn to back up the rugged looks.


Into the interior:
I covered over 600 miles during my week with this RAV4 and in general I found it to be a comfortable and likeable companion. The leather and Alcantara seating looks classy in its understatement, and with all kinds of electric adjustment to the driver’s seat and a slide and tilt leather-wrapped steering wheel, I found a driving position that was good for both view and comfort, although a little more room around my knees would’ve been nice. At 6’ 4” this can be a regular issue with cars on the smaller side.

The elevated driving position is indeed useful for scanning the traffic and with its 6-speed automatic gearbox – with manual paddle-shift options – coupled to a torquey (340Nm) 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine, this RAV4 is very relaxing and easy to drive, and the comfy, quiet and well laid out cabin only adds to the wafting feeling.

Control switch clutter is kept to a minimum – even though this car has almost electric everything – and the large and square interior space with its higher roof means there’s an airy feeling inside. It’s got a good stereo, but no sat-nav, which, for this kind of cash, may irk some potential buyers.


The drive:
I was actually rather impressed with the way the RAV4 handled itself on the road, especially taking into account its taller suspension and high sidewall tyres.

It felt relatively firm and flat through the bends, and while there is more roll to the body than you’d expect with a normal car with a lower centre of gravity, I never felt that the RAV’s higher body would pull the car out of line during quicker cornering. Saying that, the relaxing driving style encouraged by the car’s easy-cruising nature often meant that I was happy to mellow cruise, rather than hustle.

There is plenty of torque on offer from the 148bhp, 4-cylinder engine; accelerate hard for a motorway slip road and this RAV4 will march quickly and smoothly through its six automatic forward ratios. It’s not the very slickest automatic gearbox, but I soon understood its little issues and worked with for a mostly smooth and serene driving experience.

That engine power does come at a bit of a price of economy, and while Toyota – or rather the economy testing used by all manufacturers – sees this RAV4 come out with a quoted 39.8mpg on the combined economy cycle, I saw around 32mpg. I think with a considered driving style around 34mpg could be seen. But, if you want the torque and can see your RAV4 actually attacking big muddy hills, then the pure on-road economy with be secondary to this car’s off-road readiness.

The quoted performance stats are 62mph in 10.8secs and a top speed of 115mph, and with respectably-controlled suspension travel and powerful brakes, the RAV4 handles its engine power well.


Ten second sum up:
The 2012 Toyota RAV4 – in this high spec trim with classy metallic paint – comes across as an understatedly handsome and well-rounded on- or off-road companion. Comfortable and well laid out inside – if a little tight on legroom for taller types – it’s more refined than ever before, but still has the mechanical mumbo to chuck some serious mud if the going gets tough.


Prices and availability:
The Toyota RAV4 range starts at £24,340 for the XT-R 2WD and rises to £28,350 for the SR AWD. Price as tested, £27,800, including optional metallic paint at £450. Available now.

Words & pics: Daniel Anslow

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