Toyota's RAV4 has been around since 1994 and is credited with kicking off the "soft roader" genre. It's still pretty much the same formula 22 years down the track and is just as popular, aided by a recent midlife revamp with new Toyota family styling and the availability of comprehensive driver assist technology.
The Cruiser petrol variant isn't cheap at $44,490 but comes with all the driver assist goodies as standard (these can be had in an option pack lower in the line-up).
Relative to the rivals, the Cruiser is good value especially when you factor in all the luxury kit as well that includes leather trim, six-speed auto (the sole transmission), a decent infotainment screen with satnav and multiple vehicle controls. The capped price servicing is $180 a pop.
The coveted driver assist kit includes autonomous emergency braking, active (radar) cruise control, pre-collision preparation, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, auto (LED) headlights, cross traffic alert and front parking sensors.
Toyota revisited RAV4's refinement this time around, tweaking its suspension for comfort and control as well as reducing road and exhaust noise. For a medium SUV, it's quite large inside with room for five and decent load space.
It doesn't take long to become completely familiar with everything the RAV4 can do and access is easy thanks to the seating being not too high.
Audio quality is good but the Bluetooth phone is average in terms of connecting and voice reproduction (plenty of Toyotas share this affliction). And you must be stationary to set the satnav.
Cabin ambience is pleasant with a high level of functionality for all controls. It doesn't take long to become completely familiar with everything the RAV4 can do and access is easy thanks to the seating being not too high.
It's a five-star car but the Cruiser goes further than that thanks to all the driver assist technology that helps you avoid a crash in the first place.
In common with other brands, Toyota is yet to "democratise" all this lifesaving technology but it will come downstream in time. Until then you have to buy the top of the range Cruiser or pay more for the safety option pack.
The RAV4 is good to drive, especially the 2.5-litre petrol four. It's an auto-only proposition in Cruiser spec but delivers strong performance thanks to an engine that has plenty of power to shift the 1600kg RAV4.
The auto hooks up sweetly with the petrol 2.5 (132kW/ 233Nm), delivering a smooth and quiet drive experience.
The same applies to the suspension, which is "Australianised" by Toyota's local engineers.
The RAV4 is easy to live with but this one likes a drink — thirst is a claimed 8.5L/100km on 91 RON.