By Samuel Smith
Last updated on: November 15, 2019 at 2:30 am
The RAV4 matches its competitors' strengths, then raises the stakes with category-leading fuel economy, lower emissions and a smooth, quiet ride.
Winner: Toyota RAV4 GXL AWD Hybrid
Variant: GXL AWD Hybrid
Engine: 2.5 litre petrol/electric hybrid
ANCAP Safety Rating: 5 stars
Second place went to the Subaru Forester 2.5i and the Mazda CX-5 placed third.
What sets it apart from the rest
Buyers in the all-wheel-drive SUV under $55,000 category now have a plethora of excellent models to chose from, which makes the RAV4 GXL AWD Hybrid’s win in this important category an outstanding achievement.
As it’s a recently released model, the RAV4’s 5 star ANCAP rating was achieved under the tougher 2019 test requirements, so it also gains maximum points for safety.
Toyota’s new global platform provides the RAV4 with a solid foundation for improved driving dynamics and impressive ride comfort, while a longer wheelbase and extra width create more useable cabin space, particularly for rear occupants.
- Category-leading fuel economy and lower emissions
- The hybrid AWD system is as capable as more conventional mechanical AWD setups
- Comfortable seating for 5
- Easy-to-read instrumentation and logically positioned switches
- The smoothest and quietest out of all competitors
- Excellent purchase price and ownership costs
What it’s like to drive
The introduction of Toyota’s well-proven petrol/electric hybrid technology has added a new dimension to the RAV4 line-up and gives it a distinct point of difference over the competition.
Using a similar system to the Camry hybrid with minor tweaking to suit SUV requirements, the AWD version employs a third electric motor to drive the rear wheels. For everyday driving, the Hybrid’s electric motors add extra punch down low, with the petrol and electric power sources combining to provide brisk performance and a seamless transition. It can also be driven short distances on electric power only (in EV mode).
Like most vehicles in this category, the main benefit of the RAV4’s AWD system is the reassuring extra traction it provides if the bitumen is wet and slippery or when travelling on loose gravel/dirt roads.
How the finalists compared (scores for each category from 1-10)
|AWD SUVs under $55,000||Toyota RAV4 GLX AWD Hybrid||Subaru Forester 2.5i-S||Mazda CX-5 Sport|
|Cost of depreciation ($)||7||8||10|
|Running & repair costs||8||5||9|
|Warranty & dealer access||8||7||7|
|Build & finish quality||7||8||7|
|Smoothness & quietness||9||8||8|
|Off road ability||5||8||5|
Images: Mark Rogers, Magnum Photography Australia