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October 7, 2021

Interior design and technology – Toyota RAV4

When Toyota launched the RAV4 in 1994, its rivals were few and far between. So what makes its fifth-generation model stand out in a crowded marketplace? We’ve got the inside story.

By Matthew Beecham

Interior focus

The cavernous cabin is cloaked in a rich mix of materials. Consistent patterns, textures, colours and ambient lighting are applied, with symmetrical shapes and use of the polygon motif seen in the Toyota FT-AC (Future Toyota – Adventure Concept, premiered at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show) concept model. The switchgear features integrated buttons and chunky, no-nonsense dials. The latest generation model is underpinned by the first use of the carmaker’s GA-K platform in an SUV.

The low-set dash is defined by horizontal lines that flow into the door panels, emphasising the cabin’s width and giving the driver a clearer view of the road ahead.

Size-wise, the GA-K platform provides plenty of cabin space. With all seats in place, the cargo area has a capacity of 580 litres, 79 litres more than the previous generation RAV4. Reducing the front and rear overhangs by a combined 35mm (-5mm front, -30mm rear) means the vehicle is shorter overall by 5mm (4,600mm), yet the wheelbase has been increased by 30mm (2,690mm), securing a more spacious cabin.  The overall width has grown by 10mm (1,855mm) and the front and rear tracks have been increased. At the same time, overall height has been brought down by 10mm.

The new platform also allows for a little more driver comfort and sense of control. The GA-K chassis allows for a more engaging driving position, without detracting from the commanding view of the road that’s a defining quality of SUVs. The driver’s hip point has been lowered by 15mm and the range of steering wheel adjustment has been increased by 50 per cent.

Comfort for rear-seat passengers has been improved with 40mm added to the left/right couple distance, more spacious rear footwells and the provision of two air vents. By increasing the opening angle of the rear doors and reducing the distance from the hip point to the rocker panel, getting in and out of the vehicle and access to child seats has been made easier.

Other convenience features include the powered tailgate, operated via a button on the dash, inside the boot lid or key fob. The loadspace behind the rear seats has been made larger thanks to a fully flat floor and a length extended by 60mm, 79 litres more than in the previous generation. There is a height-adjustable, two-level deck board that can be reversed when dirty items need to be carried. The reclining rear seats have a 60:40 split-folding function and there are storage nets on each side of the boot.

Audio-wise, the Dynamic features a JBL Premium Sound System. The system comprises an eight-channel, 800W stereo amplifier and nine speakers. The speakers have been specifically tuned to the acoustics of the RAV4 cabin. The system uses Clari-Fi technology, developed by Harman, which supplements real-time frequencies that are lost in compressed audio files, such as MP3 and streaming audio files. This restores the sound quality and stereo mix as closely as possible to the original recording.

RAV4 Hybrid is available in four equipment grades, Icon, Design, Dynamic and Excel. Our Dynamic featured sports-style seats, a black headlining and blue trim accents, a panoramic roof and JBL audio system.

Other creature comforts on the Dynamic include heated and powered front seats, dual-zone air-con, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-adjustable heated door mirrors with auto-folding function, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, windscreen wiper de-icer, eCall and a rearvew camera.

Advanced driver assistance system

The second-generation Toyota Safety Sense made its debut on the latest generation RAV4. The improved system features a single-lens camera and millimetre-wave radar, both with enhanced performance to expand the scope of hazard detection and functionality. The unit has also been made smaller, so the driver gains an even wider field of vision.  The package includes upgraded versions of the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian

Detection, intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Road Sign Assist and Automatic High Beam. It also introduces Lane Tracing Assist, which provides more advanced driving support.

On the road

Although not a sporty SUV, the RAV4 is quite nippy thanks to the 2.5-litre petrol hybrid engine that manages to deliver power smoothly. Officially, it will achieve 47.9 mpg while our run-about achieved a perfectly agreeable 44 mpg.  On balance, this unpretentious family favourite comes with a great mix of standard equipment, clever safety technology and an intuitive infotainment system. It provides a comfortable drive partly thanks to NVH refinements, suspension set up and a cabin filled with dense, soft materials. Oh, and it also provides some practical touches such as a handgrip on the tailgate that can serve as a hanger and rubberised grips on the inside of the door handles. Rival crossover models include the Peugeot 3008, Ford Kuga and Volvo XC60 to name a few.

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