The fourth generation of RAV4 took on a ‘sporty’ approach to exterior styling, with a more edgy exterior design. At the time, editor of carsguide.com.au Paul Gover said that the “new RAV4 is better looking, a little sharper to drive, has more obvious concentration on quality”. Despite this praise, this new generation was timed with the release of some strong competitors, such as the 2013 Subaru Forester.
The RAV4’s styling changes have been mild since 2013. It keeps up with its semi-sporty appearance on the exterior. Whilst some commentators were still content with this generation’s style, things have aged quickly according to Matt Brogan from motoring.com.au. Brogan admits that the plastic parts of the 2014 RAV4 were looking “dated, clumsy and drab”. This extensive use of plastic seems to be gradually phasing out, though it is obvious is still Toyota put affordability ahead of luxury. However, for many families, this may be an acceptable concession.
The 2015 RAV4 was a big improvement internally, with a better touchscreen and carbon fibre styling. For those who put a premium on appearance, the newer 2015 models may be worth considering.
At the time, the 2013 RAV4 wasn’t considered a breakthrough in the SUV category. Toyota were late to the turbo-diesel party, offering the first diesel RAV4 for the first time in this generation. Toyota in their family-orientated RAV4 have focused on catering to the expanding ‘city SUV’ market, with slight improvements to size and performance.
As a thrill seeker, the RAV4 under-delivers. Paul Glover declared the 2013 models ‘disappointing’ and was particularly scathing over the diesel’s lacklustre half-tonne towing capacity. For families looking to get out on the odd adventure, you may want to reconsider picking up a 2013 diesel RAV4.
The later 2014 and 2015 models, by comparison, have made significant improvements. The seats are more comfortable, although Matt Brogan notes that noise leaking into the cabin is still an issue across 2014 models.
Compared to competitors, fuel economy of the RAV4 is a highlight. The 2015 diesel RAV4’s have a much better, albeit still unimpressive towing capacity of one tonne, which may still be a deal breaker for families who take camping or caravan holiday seriously.
Even if the ride isn’t exactly exhilarating, the 4WD models of the RAV4 can still be a capable off-roaders. Later 2014 and 2015 models have better ground clearance and angles for a surprising level of handling when things get tougher. Ewan Kennedy from carsguide.com.au took the 2014 version onto some mild to medium off road tracks, with satisfying results.
The reality is, however, that most RAV4’s rarely see a dirt road. If you are looking for a used RAV4, there is a good chance it hasn’t seen much action outside of the city. As a used car buyer, this is great news. Later RAV4 models may still be under warranty, but it’s always best to avoid potential problems where you can. That means avoid a RAV4 that looks like it’s taken a off-road beating.
When inspecting a used RAV4 check the panels closely. Panel scratches or underbody damage is usually a sure sign that the SUV has seen some off-road action, or at least some rough driving.
The Toyota RAV4 occupies a competitive SUV space. The fourth generation, starting in 2013, is an affordable, and reliable option for large families looking to pick a used car with great value. Although some of the interior styling is lacking in quality, there is more than enough space and comfort to be an appealing option for large families. Serious adventurers may want to look into alternatives like Subaru’s Forester.