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GET RAV-VED UP; ian donaldson spends some quality time with toyota's new rav4 hybrid TOYOTA RAV4 HYBRID DYNAMIC 4x2 Price: PS35,735.

Byline: ian donaldson

MAKE a car easy to live with and it will grow on you as the miles mount. Spend a week in a RAV4 and you're in no doubt this is a message Toyota has learned well.

It starts with comfy seats and easy-to-reach controls and ends, after several hundred miles, with a dashboard economy readout that brings a quiet glow of satisfaction.

The first RAV4 arrived in 1994 as a three-door that would look positively tiny parked alongside today's fifth generation model, now longer than a Land Rover Discovery Sport and wide enough to have you concentrating hard on narrow country roads.

Those added inches mean it's now a car with lounging room for five and a huge boot and, with chunky squared off wheelarches and a multi-angled face it's got solid look-at-me posing points too.

Moving this big and confidently styled SUV is a petrol and electric hybrid mix that Toyota has been on top of for decades. In this instance, a biggish (2.5-litre) petrol engine and modestly powerful electric motor combine to produce the sort of economy you'd be pleased with from a noisier diesel - 57mpg in the case of the test car.

It produces enough power for easy overtaking and the CVT automatic transmission means there is nothing for your left (clutch) foot to do, while it has little of the annoying whining as you accelerate that sometimes goes with this system.

You can feel the chunky wheels working hard on rougher roads but the interior remains resolutely hushed, especially when travelling on battery power alone through villages along the way.

Toyotas in general sit high in any reliability survey and the RAV4 feels solidly built, with a nice soft touch to places like the door pulls and dash top and a reassuring lack of buzzes and rattles on the move.

The powered tailgate stopped working on day two - hopefully a one off glitch - but the five-year warranty gives you confidence that Toyota doesn't expect anything much to go wrong with its car.

The RAV4 range starts at PS30,970 with the Icon grade that comes with dual-zone air conditioning, 17in alloy wheels, eight-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Work your way up to the top Dynamic spec tested here and the (now black) alloys have grown an inch and there's a sat nav system, sadly with a choice of screen colours and typefaces that make it hard to read.

Comfortable and heated front seats (with lumbar support for the driver) and a suite of safety features, from pedestrian protection to intelligent adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring, means your journey is as relaxing as possible. A rear-view camera makes you look like a seasoned pro reversing into a tight car park spot and sitting high lets you see a long way down the road.

Add in actual physical controls for heating and the sound system, instead of a trendier screen to finger stab, and this is a car to live with long term.

Moving this big and confidently styled SUV is a petrol and electric hybrid mix that Toyota's been on top of for decades

CAPTION(S):

The Rav 4 has plenty of room for five and a huge boot, while inside you have stylish look with easy-to-use controls

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Author:ian donaldson
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 1, 2020
Words:553
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