Review: 2020 Toyota RAV4 2.5 – The perfect car for humble rich people

Arif · Oct 1, 2020 01:23 PM

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Toyota cars are ubiquitous. The Toyota Vios, Toyota Corolla, and the Toyota Hilux are common sights on our roads. Even Toyota luxury MPVs like the Alphard and Vellfire are seen just about everywhere in Malaysia. However, the same could not be said about the 2020 Toyota RAV4

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At a price tag of RM 223,880 (with SST), the 2020 Toyota RAV4 is expensive. And from a value perspective, it doesn't make any sense. The RAV4 doesn't offer much more value over its cheaper rivals, and that further repels potential buyers. However if you're looking for the Toyota ownership experience, the RAV4 doesn't disappoint.

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That is such a shame, because the Toyota RAV4 is a good car. But being good is not enough when you're a RM 220,000 Toyota SUV.

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There are two reasons why the 2020 Toyota RAV4 is expensive.

Firstly, it is fully imported from Japan as opposed to the CKD Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5.

Secondly, the RAV4 has a 2.5-litre engine displacement which exponentially increases the excise duty.

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Price tag aside, the RAV4 is a good car that refines conventional engineering methods. The 2.5 L engine is naturally aspirated, the transmission is an 8-speed torque converter automatic, and all power is sent to the front wheels only. There's also nothing to wow you in the cabin, but it feels refined and well built. 

Exterior

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Decent looks are a strength of the Toyota RAV4. It has presence. The exterior design is aggressive but not too shouty. The angular elements are consistent and even spill out into the wheel arches. Even the Toyota CH-R's wheel arches aren't as angular as the RAV4's.

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For a unibody SUV with Front-Wheel-Drive, the RAV4 looks much tougher than it actually is. It looks like it could take on almost anything. The black claddings are well integrated and complement the design of the front and rear bumper.

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The use of chrome is subtle, but I feel like the RAV4 could do without the rear chrome accent. Kind of reminds me of the Gear Up accessory on the Perodua Myvi.

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Interior 

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On the inside, the Toyota RAV4 feels very grown up. Perhaps too grown up with the use of the DVD player. In terms of ergonomics, the steering of the RAV4 and the Forester are quite similar. They are relatively compact, well weighted, and have decent grip.

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Talking about grip, the use of grippy rubber on the door handles is a nice touch. The same material is placed on the A/C control knobs, perfect for those who prefer tactile controls over touchscreen ones.

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Cabin space is generous although it may not be the largest in class. If there's one thing to complain about the 2020 Toyota RAV4's interior, it is the lack of practical storage space.

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Legroom and headroom of the second row in the 2020 Toyota RAV4.

There is only one seat back pocket (passenger side), the side door bins are small, and the front overhead console is only meant for a pair of sunglasses.

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No seat back pockets on the driver's side.

Overall, the cabin of the Toyota RAV4 is refined. Features like the DVR (Digital Video Recorder), wireless charger, and Android Auto/Apple Carplay are worthy of notice.

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Wireless charger

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DVR

The Toyota RAV4 manages to resist the temptation of joining the bandwagon of touchscreen-control-everything and glary piano black interior pieces. 

Driving Experience 

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The RAV4 is a relatively quick SUV. Our acceleration and braking tests reported a 0-100km/h time of 9.0 seconds and a braking distance of 39.6 m. Steering response is decent but not as sharp as the steering response in the Volkswagen Tiguan. This makes for a more relaxed drive without the overly sensitive steering in "sporty" SUVs.

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It's not the fastest SUV out there when you pitch it against its turbocharged rivals, but the 2.5 L NA RAV4 is a bit quicker than the 2.5 L NA Renault Koleos in the century sprint (Renault Koleos 0-100 km/h – 10.7 seconds).

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The 2.5-litre naturally-aspirates engine is sprightly, providing 207 PS of maximum power and 243 Nm of maximum torque. The 8-speed torque converter automatic shifts smoothly and decent power is available as soon as you demand for it.

The Toyota RAV4 handles much better than the Honda CR-V. The RAV4 uses MacPherson struts in front and double wishbones in the back. Corners are handled well, but the RAV4 can't match the boxer-engine AWD Forester. It also feels like there is a bit more weight shifting about when you take corners a little more aggressively in the RAV4. 

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The long and flat hood makes the Toyota RAV4 feel a little bit larger than it actually is. It also feels a little bit wider on the inside. In reality, the RAV4s dimensions are quite similar to its C-segment rivals.

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The DRCC (Dynamic Radar Cruise Control) is helpful but could be smoother. The lane departure assist keeps you in check but on wet road conditions, it is sometimes unable to recognise a lane.

Ride Comfort 

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The RAV4 absorbs most of the uneven road surfaces thanks to the moderate damping and the plush seats. The soft cushion and the moderate side support allow for a more relaxed driving experience. 

If comfort is your main priority, you will have to look past the RAV4's price tag. It beats the "sporty" cars like the Mazda CX-5, the Subaru Forester, and the VW Tiguan in this department. These "sporty" cars are usually a bit more on the "busy" side when it comes to ride quality. The Toyota RAV4 is even more comfortable than less "sporty" cars like the Honda CR-V and Proton X70.

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On a less than ideal highway with moderate traffic, cabin noise levels at 110 km/h were recorded at 69 dB. Cabin noise in the RAV4 is on the quieter side in the field of C-segment SUVs. The actual cabin experience is better than the numbers suggest.

Cabin materials may not exude ultimate luxury, but the fit and finish is worthy of praise.

Fuel Consumption

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After travelling 75.6 km with part city and part highway driving, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 used up 6.738 litres of fuel, clocking an average fuel consumption of 8.913 l/100km. The car's fuel consumption meter reports 8.06 l/100 km which is only slightly under reported.

Conclusion 

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If your idea of reliability is a naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine with a conventional automatic, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 is the perfect car for you.

Besides the exterior styling, the Toyota RAV4 is a very conventional car. And by conventional, I mean old school. It refines the conventional methods of making a car and that philosophy oozes into the cabin – there’s no big iPad, no fancy coloured-stitching, no digital gauges, and no space-age-like sunroof.

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It is possibly one of the best C-segment SUVs out there that you could comfortably drive in urban and less than urban areas. At about RM220k for a Toyota, the Toyota RAV4 is the perfect car for those who enjoy practising stealth wealth but kind of want to splurge on a car.

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Arif

Writer

Previously an engineer in an automotive manufacturing company and a highway concessionaire. A part-time research student on biofuels and diesel engines. Obsessed with vehicle electrification and the future of transportation.

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Up to 20% higher than average trade-in price

2020 Toyota RAV4 2.0L

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