Toyota RAV4 (2013-2019) Review

It’s not the most exciting or economical SUV you can buy but the Toyota RAV4 is at least spacious and reassuringly well made

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Impressive reliability and warranty
  • Well equipped even in basic S trim
  • Spacious, practical interior
  • Inefficient engines, especially 2.0 VVT-i
  • Noisy
  • No diesel four-wheel drive option
Toyota RAV4 prices from £12,500.
Finance from £282.33 / month.

Toyota RAV4 prices from £12,500   Finance from £282.33 per month

Toyota makes some of the sturdiest and most dependable off-roaders, which is why they are the vehicles of choice for UN peacekeeping troops, operating in some of the worlds most inhospitable conditions - as well as the rebel groups that they engage with.

With that sort of track record, they are unlikely to miss a beat on the school run, or when navigating through a muddy campsite, but the warzone-specification models are a little on the large size for British roads.

Enter the RAV4. It is meant to provide the sturdiness, capability, height and practicality of Toyota's larger off-road cars, with the driving ease and fuel economy of a family hatchback - helped by a hybrid option. This promises excellent family-carrying abilities and a toughness that can withstand Britain's rough roads - although some potholes could defeat a tank.

This generation of car is isn't the cheapest option, even though it's no longer made: it was made between 2015 and 2019 before being replaced by a new Toyota RAV4.  Used prices on BuyaCar for five-year-old models start at £12,500, or from £282.33 per month with finance.

That's considerably more than a Nissan Qashqai of a similar age , which costs from £7,995, or £7,995 per month. Rear seat and boot space (547 litres) is more generous than you'll find in a Qashqai,  which has a 430-litre boot, but it's no larger than a Honda CR-V , which starts at £9,995 on BuyaCar.

A flat floor in the back of the RAV4 means that you can carry three adults comfortably in the back. In addition to the large boot, there's a storage net and large cupholders,

Where the RAV4 loses points is with its engines and gearbox. While other car makers offer small-capacity petrol engines and ultra-frugal diesels, the RAV4 only has a couple of large petrol engines, both with noisy automatic gearboxes, and a less than cutting-edge 2.0-litre diesel manual.

The 2.0-litre VVT-i petrol is four-wheel drive only and thirsty while the 2.5 VVT-i Hybrid, which pairs the petrol engine with an electric motor and is available in two or four-wheel drive, is powerful and tax efficient but expensive.

The 2.0 D-4D diesel is the best engine. It’s not as frugal as the new generation of smaller diesels but 60mpg is not to be sniffed at. It’s the best to drive, too: nimble, composed and with accurate, if light, steering. However, it’s not available with four-wheel drive. The 2.0 VVT-i is a distant second while the Hybrid feels heavy and a little unwieldy.

Equipment levels are good across the five trim levels. Our pick is SE Business for its suite of driver-assist systems and good level of luxury features for not much more than the price of the basic Active model. Plus, it’s only offered with the 2.0 D-4D engine.

Best Toyota RAV4 for...

Best for Economy – Toyota RAV4 2.0 D-4D Business Edition

The D-4D is the most economical RAV4 with an official figure of 60.1mpg (expect substantially less in real-world driving).

Best for Families – Toyota RAV4 2.0 D-4D Business Edition

Sat nav, rear parking sensors and Toyota’s Safety Sense suite of driver assist systems (it includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and pre-collision assist) all for a modest premium over basic Active trim, make this the family favourite.

Best for Performance – Toyota RAV4 2.5 VVT-i Hybrid Excel

As the quickest RAV4, this version takes the performance honours. Interestingly, two and four-wheel-drive versions are equally as quick. It’s great for overtaking but the automatic transmission means it gets noisy under hard acceleration. In town, it’s virtually inaudible.


  • December 2012 Model launched in Britain in Active, Icon and Invincible trims. Mainly 2.0-litre diesel engines but one 2.0-litre petrol automatic.
  • January 2014 Toyota Touch 2 touchscreen multimedia system with sat nav now standard on all but Active trims.
  • January 2015 New Business Edition based on Active but featuring latest Touch 2 with Go infotainment system.
  • April 2015 New petrol-electric hybrid version launched. Has two or four-wheel drive.
  • November 2015 Mid-life updates including introduction of 2.0-litre diesel engine boasting improved economy. Old 2.2-diesel engine dropped. Trims now called Active, Business Edition, Business Edition Plus, Icon and Excel.
  • October 2017 Availability of hybrid power extended to all RAV4 models. New trim levels start at Icon, then Icon Tech, Design and Excel at the top of the range.
  • April 2019 New RAV4 arrives in Britain.

Toyota RAV4 Engines

2.5 VVT-i Hybrid auto, 2.0 D-4D, 2.0 Vmatic

The heart of the RAV4 engine range is the 2.0 D-4D, a diesel engine that returns a reasonable 60mpg and goes from 0-62mph in less than 10 seconds. It’s not the most refined engine in the class, although it is quiet at cruising speeds. It’s only available with a manual gearbox, which will suit the majority of drivers. In any case, the automatic gearbox on the Hybrid and 2.0 VVT-i is not very pleasant to use, being noisy under acceleration.

What’s strange is that the diesel engine isn’t available with four-wheel drive. While most RAV4 owners are unlikely to use their cars off-road, some people may miss the extra traction that 4WD provides, especially when towing or on slippery roads.

On the other hand, the 2.0 VTT-i Vmatic is only available with four-wheel drive and automatic transmission, which explains its woeful economy.

The Hybrid is all about reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and largely aimed at company car drivers wishing to reduce their tax liability. It’s quick but the gearbox is noisy. It’s offered in two or four-wheel drive but it’s important to note that the towing limit for the 2WD is just 800kg compared with 1650kg for the 4WD.



Fuel economy


Acceleration (0-60mph)

Top speed

2.5 VVT-i Hybrid


57.6 - 55.4mpg




2.0 D-4D






2.0 VVT-i Vmatic






Toyota RAV4 Trims

Active, Business edition, Business Edition Plus, Icon, Excel

Basic Active trim is only offered with the 2.0 D-4D engine. It helps to bring down the RAV4’s entry price to around £24,000 before discount. However, while it has luxuries such as cruise control, a rear view camera, a 7.0-inch touchscreen and air conditioning, the next trim, Business Edition, which is based on it, makes a lot more sense.

Again this one is only offered with the 2.0 D-4D but the extra £1400 it costs is money well spent since it brings adaptive cruise, a sat nav, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and the Safety Sense pack of driver assist features. A slightly enhanced version, called Business Edition Plus, is only offered with the hybrid engine.

Icon and top-spec Excel are available with all three engines but raise RAV4 prices substantially. On top of Business Edition’s features, Icon adds larger (18in) wheels, leather/Alcantara trim and a powered tailgate. They certainly inject a welcome feeling of luxury but at a price.

Excel’s major contribution is leather trim and a sunroof. Together, they raise the price of the 2.0 D-4D, the cheapest model in this trim, to around £28,000 before discount, which is a lot for a car of only average ability.

Other Editions

RAV4 (2019)

The new, hybrid-only Toyota RAV4 is cheap to run, reliable, fun to drive and striking looking in a class brimming with talented rivals