Toyota RAV4 2018 review
You can't stand still, even if you're often number one on a car buyer's list and your name is Toyota. Reputation is hard-won and easily lost, and the Japanese company hasn't dropped the ball.
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Haval might draw blank looks here, but in China the brand is king of the SUV castle, and one of the leading manufacturers in the country. Not surprisingly, executives are keen to duplicate that success in Australia, and so Haval is bringing its fleet to our shores in a bid to grab a slice of our expanding and lucrative SUV market.
The H6’s sharp pricing and styling appears to signal Haval’s intentions from the outset. What’s more, Haval is promoting it as the sportiest model in the range.
So, is this competitively priced H6 SUV too good to be true? My kids and I had the weekend to find out.
First thought on seeing the H6 up close, and dressed in metallic grey and sitting on 19-inch wheels, is that it cuts quite a sophisticated profile. Very unexpected.
Its profile is well proportioned with styling that does a good job of conveying a sense of premium. A sharp-looking front end featuring xenon headlights sets the tone, with stylish lines running down the side of the body, tapering to a stout rear end.
Lined up side by side with its rivals - the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Nissan X-Trail - the H6 easily holds its own in the design department, even looking the most European in comparison. If the exterior is anything to go by then, this H6 holds quite a lot of promise. Even the kids give it an early two thumbs up. So far, so good.
Our first scheduled stop for the day is my daughter’s dance rehearsal, before swinging by the grandparents' for lunch and then shopping.
Plonking ourselves inside the H6, the sense of premium continues courtesy of a panoramic sunroof, heated front and rear seats, a power-adjustable passenger seat and leather-look trim. More noticeable, however, was the not-so-premium assortment of hard plastic surfaces and finishes adorning the cabin. The plastic panel at the base the gear shifter felt especially flimsy to the touch.
Our 45min journey to the dance rehearsal venue gave the four of us a good opportunity to acquaint ourselves with the cabin. The kids in the back made good use of the two cupholders located in the arm rest, whilst my son cracked open the sunroof up front.
As well as the rear cupholders, the H6 offers a decent amount of storage including water bottle holders in each of the four doors, and two cupholders between the front seats. Interestingly, there was an old-school ashtray and working cigarette lighter situated at bottom of the dash – the first time the kids had seen one.
Rear seats provide ample leg and headroom for kids and adults alike and, as my daughters quickly discovered, can also recline. Seats up front are power adjustable (eight-way for the driver) providing reasonable amounts of comfort and good positioning for the driver.
Following the rehearsal, the rest of the day was spent putting the H6 through its paces around the suburban back streets, with music from the eight-speaker stereo to keep us entertained. Despite limited functionality (sat nav is optional – and not included on our test car - which doesn't feel particularly "Lux"), the eight-inch multimedia screen was not as easy to navigate as I’d anticipated. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is not available, even as an option.
The H6 passed the local shopping centre car park test with flying colours thanks to its modest dimensions, parking sensors and a reversing camera that makes light work of the narrow confines. One weird quirk of our test car, though; the rear camera view on the touchscreen occasionally failed to display upon engaging reverse, requiring me to shift back into park and then reverse again to kickstart it. Engaging reverse gear also mutes the stereo.
The rain started early and was set to stay that way, so lunch at a family friend's house was the only planned outing for the day.
There is only one engine available in the Haval H6 lineup - a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol unit with 145kW of power and 315Nm of torque. Coupled with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, it propelled the H6 with a respectable amount of urgency between intersections.
A brief trial of the paddle shifters did little to add to the driving performance, with the gearbox slow to respond to inputs. The digital display in the binnacle also made it hard to discern what gear I was in at a glance. Back in standard auto, however, the H6 gear changes were smooth and fairly intuitive in response to the numerous hill climbs and descents around the local burbs.
Standing starts in the H6, though, were a largely unpleasant experience. There’s a distinct lag upon pressing the accelerator before first gear engages with a jolt. Whilst it was irritating on dry roads, it veered to outright frustration in the wet with considerable management of the accelerator pedal required to avoid spinning the front wheels.
Around town the ride and handling was reasonably comfortable, but with noticeable amounts of roll when driving through corners. Piloting the H6 felt like quite a disconnected experience, with the steering wheel giving the sensation of being attached to a giant rubber band rather than the front tyres.
Safety-wise, apart from the reversing camera and parking sensors, the H6 is kitted out with six airbags and electronic stability control with brake assist. Blind-spot monitoring is also standard, however it’s an opt-in function requiring the driver to activate it for each drive. Hill-start assist, hill-descent control, tyre-pressure monitoring and a seatbelt warning system round off the safety offering. All of which added up to a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Over the weekend I covered around 250km, with the trip computer indicating fuel consumption of 11.6 litres per 100km. This puts it well above Haval’s claimed combined figure of 9.8 litres per 100km - and squarely in the thirsty category.
While it scores marks for stylish looks, practicality and pricing, the H6's less refined cabin and driving foibles are hard to overlook. In a red-hot SUV market, this places it well behind its rivals, and something tells me the H6 Lux will suffer from the sheer amount of competition in its segment, with buyers genuinely spoiled for choice.