Most of our week in Toyota’s V6-powered RAV4 was spent in its prime environment – the school run, shopping centers, dance classes and junior swim meets. We lost count of the number of RAV4's we parked next to.
That’s no surprise as the RAV4 and the Subaru Forester dominate sales in the Compact SUV segment.
Sure the RAV4 has all-wheel-drive (AWD) off-road capability, but for family buyers it’s the smart packing combined with Toyota’s reliability and quality that make it a standout.
Toyota RAV4 Overview
Like most Australian families, the Car Showroom family has always been keen on the four-cylinder RAV4 and we were curious to see how the V6 model compared. Toyota says the V6 provided the most significant change in the 16-year history of RAV4, so when they suggested we spend a week in a mid-range RAV4 SX6 model we gladly accepted the keys.
Like the rest of the well-developed RAV4 range, the RAV4 SX6 is bursting with safety and convenience features which provide a significant key to its sales success – you get a lot of car in a RAV4. You also get a surprising amount of interior space – including the rear seat.
And, with a cargo capacity of 540 litres (rear seat in place) plus a towing capacity of 1.9 tonnes, you certainly get versatility as well.
Toyota RAV4 Engine
RAV4 didn’t score just any V6 – the 3.5-litre 2GR-FE (also powering Kluger, Tarago V6 and Aurion) is Toyota’s most powerful. In the RAV4 it’s good for 201kW at 6200 rpm and 333Nm at 4700 rpm.
It features Toyota’s dual VVT-I variable valve timing for optimized low-range and mid-range performance and low fuel consumption.
Fuel consumption is rated at 10.5l/100kms and the exhaust emissions are 246g/km. Fuel tank capacity is 60 litres.
The 60-degree V6 drives all four wheels via Toyota’s five-speed electronic automatic.
Toyota RAV4 Interior
As the mid-range model, the RAV4 SX6 gains significant extra features including front dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, a six CD audio system (with Bluetooth compatibility), upgraded seat trim, leather for the steering wheel and gear lever, rear privacy glass and a moonroof.
Reflecting its appeal to younger buyers, the RAV4’s dashboard is quite edgy by Toyota styling standards with a double wing-shape and elegant metallic accents. We particularly liked the contemporary center console with large buttons to operate the audio and climate control.
The steering wheel adjusts for rake/reach and the conventional instrument cluster features graduated amber lighting from the centers – a modern look.
Having adjusted the drivers’ seat to our setting, we climbed into the back and were astounded by the amount of rear seat legroom. Sculptured cutouts for the rear of the front seats certainly help, but the RAV4 delivers abundant space for rear seat occupants – a real plus for families.
As a result, installation of the Car Showroom juniors’ child and booster seats was easy with handy access to the rear mounting points and seat belts making loading-up a breeze.
The 60/40-split rear seat can slide forwards and a one-touch remote release provides a large, flat cargo area. There is 991mm of cargo height, 942mm of cargo length and 1335mm of cargo width (1100mm between the rear wheel arches).
And a further 90 litres of cargo space is provided under the rear floor.
Despite the conventional rear door (and its attached spare wheel), access to the cargo area is good with a low loading edge over the rear bumper.
Toyota RAV4 Exterior & Styling
While the RAV4 isn’t the youngest vehicle in our compact SUV market, it still looks the part. RAV4 has certainly grown over the years from its original guise but despite its size, the current model is quite aerodynamic (Cd 0.34) and Toyota’s attention to detail in this area is noticeable by the front and rear wheel spats and rear spoiler.
Externally, RAV4 V6 models are distinguished by a chrome front grille and darkened four-bulb headlights with projector-type low beam lamps.
All RAV4 V6 models have 17-inch wheels.
The RAV4 SX6 model as tested gains five-spoke alloy wheels, front fog lights, overfender flares and roof rails.
Toyota RAV4 On The Road
You get a lot of engine with the RAV4 V6 and the extra grunt is immediately obvious with rapid response when changing lanes around town. In Melbourne’s peak hour the RAV4 was a very handy tool with that V6 acceleration and nicely-spaced gear ratios providing abundant acceleration.
In our tight CBD car park and shopping centers, the 10.6-metres turning circle aided the RAV4’s agility.
Over our high speed mountain roads test loop that abundant engine performance was again appreciated. We were a little surprised by the interior noise of the V6 when working hard.
We’ve previously driven the RAV4 comfortably over the sand dunes at Sydney’s Kurnell beach so we can attest to their off-road ability. In that context, high speed ride and handling isn’t quite up to some of more on-road biased rivals – there’s a degree of body roll at the limit, but you need to remember this vehicle does have good ground clearance of 200mm.
Typically Toyota, the RAV4 is a competent all-rounder.
Toyota RAV4 Challenges
We deducted points from the RAV4 in two areas.
In their efforts to optimize rear seat legroom, the Toyota interior designers pulled up a bit short in front seat cushion support for the driver. Under-thigh support was a bit lacking.
And the view for reverse parking is a bit compromised by the tailgate-mounted spare wheel. Toyota has cleverly mounted the wheel quite low so in that respect it’s better than some and you do quickly adjust your judgment when negotiating tight parking spots.
Toyota RAV4 Verdict
We would very happily park a RAV4 SX6 in our garage. For families, the overall package size is just right and there’s no doubt Toyota has loaded the RAV4 SX6 with an impressive arsenal of luxury/convenience features to appeal to both families and weekend recreationalists.
And we appreciate the extra mumbo provided by the V6.
Toyota RAV4 Competition
Great interior space; nicely equipped; potent V6
Engine noise under load; drivers’ seat lack support