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Toyota claims to have invented the compact 4x4 segment when it introduced the first-generation Rav4 19 years ago.
Two decades on, the sector has exploded, and the firm's small SUV no longer has it all its own way. Indeed, the outgoing version has since been overtaken by rivals offering cleaner engines and better all-round packages.
Toyota hopes the latest generation will re-establish its presence in the business sector and reel in some new customers. It isn't going to be a massive corporate seller, with around 20% expected for fleet, but various revisions should keep previous punters coming back and, the maker hopes, tempt a few new ones out of traditional upper medium models.
The big sell for businesses is the addition of a 2.0-litre D-4D diesel engine, which makes for a smaller, cleaner alternative to the 2.2-litre unit, that's still available but was previously the only diesel option.
At 122hp, the 2.0-litre is less potent than the 149hp 2.2, but it's front-wheel drive only, which shaves the weight down and results in headline figures of 57.6mpg and 127g/km. They're not strong enough to ward off its cleanest and most frugal competitor, the Mazda CX-5 with 119g/km and 61.4mpg, but they're good enough to give the majority of other compact SUVs a run for their money.
The new diesel suits the Rav4 well. It's quiet at low revs and, for the most part, doesn't feel much less powerful than the 2.2. It struggles below 1500rpm, though, necessitating a down-change, and the noise begins to grate when the engine is stretched. Despite this cleaner model's presence, Toyota reckons most cars will be sold with four-wheel drive because they're often used for towing or working duties.
The Rav4 is comfortable and refined, but, like the majority of Toyotas, it's fairly unmemorable to drive. Body roll is also a bit of an issue and it throws its occupants around through tighter bends. It is though packing more than its fair share of kit with features such as a DAB radio, power tailgate and cruise control on the mid-level Icon, which is expected to make up the lion's share of trim choices at 60%. Thanks in part to the equipment, RVs are claimed by Toyota to be up by around 7.5% on the previous model.
Practicality is another boon. The boot is huge at 547 litres with the rear seats up and 1746 when they're folded flat. There's heaps of rear leg- and headroom too.
There's a logical argument for the Rav4 given its space, equipment and value. The firm's reliability reputation and five-year, unlimited mileage warranty make a further case, but it doesn't stand out in a packed crowd, especially against rivals with lower emissions and more desirable badges.
Toyota Rav4 2.0 D-4D Icon Satnav
Model price range
127g/km (20%) - 2013-2014
BIK 20/40% per month
£83/£167 - 2013-2014
5yrs unlimited mls
Good value and practical but shy of the class best in some ways
Good value and practical but shy of the class best in some ways.