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We Drive the New Toyota RAV4 in South Africa

New Toyota RAV4 Driven

We sample the new Toyota Rav4   

Life is becoming increasingly difficult for us motoring journalists. Don’t believe me? Picture this, then. We now live in a time where a “bad car” really is a rarity. Sure, there are a handful which you really should steer clear of, but for the most part, buy a new car and you’ll be fine. And so, while it may be easy to whip out my forked tongue and make a few nasty quips about the underwhelming elements of a genuinely bad car, it’s a lot more difficult to write at length about a car with which I can find very little, if any, fault.

This brings us to Toyota’s all-new and particularly wonderful RAV4. In short, its spacious, economical, rather exciting to look at and very competitively priced.

2019 Toyota Rav 4

I was lucky enough to be invited to its local media launch in mid-March which saw us exploit the RAV4’s capabilities both on the open road, as well as on gravel roads, all in the humid climes of Northern KZN.

Of course, there’s no denying that for the most part, Toyota make exceptional vehicles, but even Stevie Wonder could see that the majority of their products haven’t been the most exciting things to look at over the past two decades or so. Then, all of a sardine, the 86 arrived, and then the new Hilux, and the C-HR and then the Corolla Hatch, and now the new RAV4. And they are all impeccably built as Toyota’s always have been, as well as lovely to look at! Perhaps the word I’m looking for is exciting, and that’s a direction in which I am pleased to see Toyota going.

New Toyota Rav 4 interior

The original RAV4 was quite the exciting looking thing when it was launched in 1994, however, the models which followed it while capable, never quite had that youthful appeal of the original. It pleases me to report, then, that the all-new RAV4 has now returned to that edgy and youthful image for which it was once so loved, but in doing so hasn’t departed from its luxurious appeal for which the more recent RAV4’s were loved, too. In essence, it’s the best of both worlds, but of course, it gets better than this…

It would seem that the  Toyota RAV4 has somewhat of a universal appeal, and as such, Toyota has accommodated for this in the new Toyota RAV4 lineup. Built on their new TNGA platform, the new RAV4 is available in South Africa in 3 different trim levels with 2 different engines and the choice of either, Automatic, CVT or manual gearboxes.

GX is where the range starts off and sees niceties such as auto-leveling LED headlamps, cruise control, rear PDC and reverse camera, and driver, passenger, side, curtain and knee airbags all as standard, amongst a few others. This is available in 2WD with either a 6-speed manual with rev-matching or CVT transmission which also features a 10-speed stepped ratio function. Toyota’s new direct injection 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol motor does duty here and doesn’t disappoint with 127 kW and 203 N.m while returning a claimed consumption of 6.8 l/100km on the combined cycle. Pricing for the GX is R416 400 for the manual and R427 600 for the CVT.

Jump up to the GX-R and this is where things start looking really fresh and funky with what Toyota calls “Art-leather” available as an option – it essentially mimics the colours and patterns of a running shoe with a two-tone black and light grey interior, accented with orange stitching and rubber inserts here and there. It really works nicely when combined with the “Urban Khaki” exterior, a flat dark grey similar to Audi’s Nardo Grey. A great deal of effort has gone into setting the GX-R apart from its stablemates, with black plastic cladding and different bumper finishes supposedly appealing more to the “Active Generation Y buyers”. It also features an enlarged upper grill, as well as larger skid plates and wheel arches. The GX-R is also only available in five colours, whereas the GX and VX models are available in nine.

In addition to what you’ll find in the GX, GX-R adds leather seats, power adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar adjustment, seat heating, leather steering wheel and gear-selector, keyless entry and start/stop, auto-dimming mirrors, a wireless charger, 3 x 2.1A USB chargers and dual-zone climate control. Featuring the same direct-injection 2.0-litre motor as the GX, the GX-R is only available with in AWD with the CVT transmission. Its priced at R508 100.

At the forefront of the lineup, we have the elegant VX derivatives which perhaps cater to the more mature RAV4 customer in pursuit of a brogue shoe rather than a grey and orange sneaker. The VX features chrome inserts on the door handles and a metal-finish strip the runs the width of the tailgate. It also features 19” polished alloys which really are lovely, as well as a slightly different grill design which also houses a different Toyota emblem, behind which the radar for the adaptive cruise control and front-end collision warning systems sits.

2019 Toyota Rav4 front

In addition to the specification of the GX-R, the VX features auto high beam LED headlights, Toyota Safety sense (pre-crash, lane departure warning with steering intervention, adaptive cruise control), blind spot monitor with cross traffic alert, memory seats, 360 degree cameras and front and rear PDC. The VX can be had with either the 2.0-litre motor mated to a CVT transmission or a 2.5-litre direct-injection motor with outputs of 152 kW and 243 N.m, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Having had a chance to sample both engines, as well as the CVT transmission and the 8-speed automatic, I feel that if your budget only allows for one of the 2.0-litre models, that’s great – they’re perfectly capable. However, I really wouldn’t suggest trying out the 2.5-litre model if you can’t stretch to that, because its smooth power delivery, as well as how well it is mated to the 8-speed box mean that it is in fact quite a bit nicer than the 2.0-litre models.

New Toyota RAV4 Models

Featuring class-leading ground clearance and luggage capacity, a clever torque vectoring system in the AWD models and a more youthful appeal with the introduction of the GX-R model, the all-new RAV4 really does present an appealing option in its segment. That’s a good thing, then, when one considers just how tough the competition in the ‘Small SUV’ segment is. Keep an eye out for our full test review in the coming months.

2019 Toyota Rav4 Pricing in South Africa

The 2.0-litre VX CVT 2WD is priced at R505 400 and the 2.5-litre VX 8AT AWD is priced at R577 900.

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