Facelifted Toyota RAV4

The facelifted Toyota RAV4 launched in South Africa this week and we headed towards Mozambique to give it a drive!

Following the introduction of the fourth generation RAV4 back in 2013, Toyota now welcomes the refreshed RAV4 to market in South Africa. Toyota RAV4 sales have been climbing steadily over the last two years and the model is currently leading the sales charge against competitors such as the popular Hyundai ix35 and Ford Kuga with a 12% share of the compact SUV pie. Toyota hopes to keep the good times rolling with this refreshed RAV4 and to ensure its future success, the RAV4 now features revised exterior and interior styling and additional convenience and safety goodies to keep it relevant and attractive to buyers.

Fancy Looks

The look of this latest RAV4 has been refined somewhat with the addition of LED headlights and a noticeably slimmer and macho-looking front-end. The front and rear bumpers have received some love too and rocker panels down the side and roof rails allude to the RAV4’s adventurous side. The rear-end is noticeably chunky and the tailgate is now lower than before and should make loading items a bit easier while the LED rear combination lights round off the revised look.

The RAV4 is available in two trim levels namely GX and VX. In GX trim, the RAV4 rides on 17-inch split spoke alloy wheels and is also kitted out with front and rear mud flaps, automatic headlamp levelling, rear parking camera and Daytime Running Lights. The RAV4 in VX trim wears 18-inch alloy wheels and adds a rear parking camera with guideline display, front park distance control and a powered tailgate with memory function.


Interior Details

Toyota says that much effort has gone into improving the sensory quality of the interior and this seems to be the case when stepping inside the RAV4. Toyota has paid particular attention to materials and general control layout, which not only makes the interior more pleasant but easier to use too. We found the interior to be rather appealing and the seats are comfortable too, with good support and side bolstering. Interior build quality is good and there’s now storage space for your favourite sunglasses and the cup holders are now improved.

Vehicle information is communicated to the driver via a 4.2-inch colour multi-information display and infotainment is taken care of via a larger 7-inch touch screen that houses various functions such as the Radio/CD player, Bluetooth, rear-view camera, trip data, vehicle information, climate control and ambient lighting settings. A USB port is close at hand, just in case you need charge or connect your external media and all models also feature a 12V socket for rear seat passengers.

Standard features for GX derivatives include fabric seat upholstery, electric windows, manual air-conditioner, remote central locking with automatic door locking function and a multi-function steering wheel. VX derivatives get leather seats with the driver’s seat being electrically adjustable. Automatic dual-zone climate control and cruise control is also included and the rear camera display features guidelines to help you park safely.

RAV4 Engine Choice

The refreshed RAV4 range features the same engine line-up as before and kicks off with a 2.0-litre petrol engine that offers 107 kW and 187 Nm of torque in the front-wheel drive 2.0 GX derivative. Buyers have the option of a 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed CVT transmission for the 2.0 GX.

Next up is a 2.2-litre diesel engine that offers 110 kW and 340 Nm of torque mated to a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission powering all four wheels. This engine offering is available in both GX and VX trim.

The RAV4 range tops out with the 2.5-litre petrol engine that delivers 132 kW and 233 Nm through a 6-speed automatic transmission powering all four wheels. Toyota’s Dynamic Torque Control AWD system takes care of traction by managing torque transfer between the front and rear wheels depending on the driving situation. This feature, along with a rear locking differential proved invaluable when tackling the tough sandy roads which are so common in Mozambique.

In terms of safety, the RAV4 comes well equipped with 7 airbags, ABS with EBD, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control and Trailer Sway Control.

How does the Toyota RAV4 Drive?

The RAV4 2.2D fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission was our chariot of choice in the dash for the Mozambican border. The rural roads from Mkuze airport to the border are rather treacherous with bumps, people and animals posing a continuous risk and the RAV4 got straight to business by dispatching bumps and imperfections in a comfortable and composed manner. The suspension was on the firmer side but even on the bumpiest dirt road you could imagine, the RAV4 held its own surprisingly well.

The 2.2 diesel engine pulled well and had sufficient power for overtaking. Switching over to Sport mode makes the RAV4 even perkier when more response is required but driving in this mode will have a negative impact on consumption. Fuel consumption for this 2.2 diesel model is rated at 5.6L/100km but you can expect in upwards of 9L/100km in real world conditions. The 6-speed transmission was good too and gear changes were smooth and effortless, delivering a decent drive overall.

Once in Mozambique, there was no sign of tar and thick, soft sand welcomed us. With the differential lock engaged, the AWD system was hard at work ensuring that we didn’t bury ourselves in the sand. As a soft-roader, the RAV4 seemed to be punching way above its weight but it coped well under the conditions and we were mightily impressed with how the vehicle glided over the sand. Despite the rough terrain, the cabin held up well, with no creaking to be heard, which is testament to the apparent build quality.

We also managed to sample the top-spec 2.5-litre VX derivative with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The transmission allows the driver to focus more on driving when in battle with the sand and this model performed well on the tar too. Funny enough, it didn’t feel as responsive as the 2.2-litre diesel derivative but still performed adequately with smooth gear changes and good acceleration. For heavily congested city roads, the automatic route is possibly the better choice but opt for the manual if you enjoy extracting the most performance from the engine.


Overall, the RAV4 has good manners out on the road and is surprisingly capable when the going gets tough even though it’s not considered to be a hardcore 4×4 offering. While the engines have remained the same, the new interior is comfortable, well equipped and interior build quality is to be appreciated. Based on the two derivatives driven on launch, ride quality is good too with decent performance on offer. The 2.2-diesel derivative with its slick shifting 6-speed transmission was the standout on the day. We will have the RAV4 on test over the holiday period so look out for a full evaluation coming your way soon.

Toyota RAV4 Price in South Africa

RAV4 2.0 GX MT – R327 700
RAV4 2.0 GX CVT – R338 800
RAV4 2.2D GX MT –R409 900
RAV4 2.5 AWD VX 6AT – R457 000
RAV4 2.2D AWD VX 6AT – R487 400

The RAV4 comes standard with a 3-year / 100 000km warranty and a 5-year / 90 000 km service plan. ToyotaCare Roadside Assistance Programme is also included and offers 24-hour roadside assistance.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.