There are people ahead of their time, the so-called "pioneers" , a term especially in vogue these days thanks to the likes of people like Elon Musk and his company's contributions to EV technology. Well, Toyota also has its own and the best example is this RAV4 that arrived in 1994 combining the best qualities of Toyota cars and SUVs . At that time the term SUV did not exist but look, the Japanese brand already chose a really similar acronym for its new creation: Recreational Activity Vehicle 4 (from Four Wheel Drive). The 'SUV' as we know it today had just been born, although much later came the labels SUV, crossover, etc.
From that first RAV4, which in its five-door variant barely reached 13.5 feet in length to this large family-cut SUV that we have in front of today, there are multiple differences although the most obvious, in effect, is the size. In its fifth generation, this model reaches 15 feet long, 6.2 feet wide and its height is 5.6 feet.
It is really big on the outside although with its stylish design, with angular and geometric shapes, it hides it quite well. In person, it is not as voluminous as it really is, but without a doubt the best of all is that inside, all those square feet cannot be better used. The RAV4's use of space is excellent.
The space is one of the most outstanding qualities of the interior of the RAV4 but not the only one. It also stands out in terms of general quality, especially considering its price. The highlight here is the general ergonomics because the driving position is really high and leaves us in a good perspective both the road and the hood of the car itself, and in the same line, all the controls are in place and the instrumentation it is easy to understand.
In this sense, you can see the hand of Toyota as an expert manufacturer of SUVs, only in this interior, that of the RAV4, the level of quality and equipment is notably superior to that of any traditional 4x4. For example, the central screen that emerges on the dashboard stands out, it is large -8 inches-, it is well located and integrates a series of buttons as shortcuts to the margins of it. These, like the roulette-type air conditioning controls, allow us to make most of the usual driving adjustments, without taking our eyes off the road. For the passenger, they are also just as intuitive and accessible, so we are talking about a modern but easy to understand instrumentation that flees from the futuristic fashion of other manufacturers to bet on a successful combination of the best of two worlds: digital and the analog.
Behind, the level of comfort does not decrease in this RAV4 that includes rear seats with adjustable backrest -to travel more or less lying down-, armrests with built-in cup holders, ventilation outlets and up to two USBs with their respective covers. But without a doubt the best thing is the space, especially the width for a compact SUV. The central square is the great beneficiary in this regard, both in height and width, it is higher than the average and only the tunnel located on the ground leaves some space for the feet. With all that, it still allows three adults to travel without difficulties behind it, something we are not used to in cars of this type.
In the same vein, the rear hatch compartment is also spacious and practical enough for family use. The luggage cover is also easily disassembled and stored in a specific space under the double bottom and in addition, in this finish the automatic opening gate and the adherent surface of the boot floor are also standard and we are talking about elements that they really appreciate each other on a day-to-day basis. With the interior well analyzed and with a pleasant impression on it, we hit the road.
The first few miles behind the wheel of the Toyota RAV4 Prime not be more pleasant. We are facing a vehicle in which smoothness prevails, a characteristic that we find both in the operation of its direction and in the touch of its mechanics. In the city, we maneuver with more agility than expected and not only because of the low resistance that the steering wheel offers us, but also because we have a short turning diameter and because of the good front and rear visibility that we enjoy.
Without leaving the city, we also value the ability to overcome bumps or ride on bumpy or cobbled surfaces. Its suspension offers us and only the somewhat spongy touch of the brake pedal forces us to practice something more than we want in the stops until we catch it point. In any case, we hit the open road with the feeling of driving a much smaller car and the first few corners reaffirm that same feeling.
What this car does offer is a simple, reliable, plug-in hybrid functionality with which you will save fuel, especially in your daily trips. It is comfortable on the road, suitable for off-road use and handles really well in the city, but above all it boasts a spacious and well-equipped interior that truly serves as the only family car.
Definitely the RAV4 continues to be one of the most interesting and compelling options among cars of its type and in the end, we talk about 'The Pioneer' of SUVs, SUVs, crossovers or whatever we want to call them . What is shown is that the one who gives first, gives twice.
Pure EV capability
Overall utility and daily usability
Limited pure-EV range (<50 miles)
Roof cross-bar whistling at higher speed
Price a bit steep for some potential buyers
Engine: 2.5L 4-Cyl. Plug-In Hybrid
Drivetrain: Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel-Drive
Power: 302 hp
Curb Weight: 4,300 lbs
Fuel Economy: 40/36/38
EV Range: 42 miles
Base Price: $38,100 Price as Tested: $47,610