Five generations in, it's hard to believe the RAV4 has something to prove. I don't think my opinion has kept Toyota awake at night, but I have not once warmed to a RAV4.
I've recommended them to people as low-fuss transport, especially those who wanted a car with big, easy to use buttons and a drama-free ownership experience.
The fifth-generation RAV4 is on Toyota's new global platform that has delivered a series of quite good cars. Quite good indeed. (image: Peter Anderson)
The Edge looks like a ruggedised RAV4. It has its own bumper and grille treatment and chunky, unpainted wheelarches, along with its own exclusive colour palette. (image: Peter Anderson)
While the overall look is pleasingly chunky and blocky, some of the details are less so. (image: Peter Anderson)
Thing is, most cars deliver all of that stuff (okay, maybe not the big buttons) these days. The idea that the shell is designed to last longer than your average dictatorship doesn't excite buyers anymore. They want looks, tech, performance and the suggestion of a rugged lifestyle.
But the new RAV4 is different - it's not a reheat of the previous model with some new panels and a slightly different touchscreen. The fifth-generation RAV4 is on Toyota's new global platform that has delivered a series of quite good cars. Quite good indeed. Let's see what the top-of-the-range Edge has to offer.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 7/10
At nearly fifty large ($47,140), the Edge is, er, on the edge but it is loaded with stuff. You get 19-inch alloys, a nine-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, electric tailgate, leather wheel and shifter, keyless entry and start, front/side/reversing camera, active cruise control, electric driver's seat, sat nav, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, lots of synthetic leather, sunroof, power everything and space saver spare.
The Edge comes with auto LED headlights. (image: Peter Anderson)
The nine speaker stereo is branded with JBL badges and has DAB. It has the awful user interface from the Corolla stretched across the 8.0-inch screen along with some cheap plastichrome buttons to operate it.
Is there anything interesting about its design? 7/10
I do feel a bit sorry for Toyota's designers. We moan about dull cars - the previous RAV4 was mostly pretty dull - and say, "Be more interesting." Then they pop out the new RAV4 and people like me say, "No, not like that."
While the overall look is pleasingly chunky and blocky, some of the details are less so. That weird black strip that joins the rear quarter window to the tailgate looks unaligned with anything else on the car. The Tiguan rear lights look a bit stolen.
The Edge looks like a ruggedised RAV4. It has its own bumper and grille treatment and chunky, unpainted wheelarches, along with its own exclusive colour palette.
You get 19-inch alloys. (image: Peter Anderson)
The new cabin is a pleasing step up from the old car's. Here in the Edge there are some fun splashes of what looks like McLaren's Papaya Orange and even more splashes of rubber.
Some of the switchgear and grab handles are finished in rubber, harking back to the idea of a hose-out interiors of early Land Cruisers (do not hose out your RAV4).
That's about it for adventure, though, but that's okay. It's an interior that will take a family and its stuff without fuss.
Here in the Edge there are some fun splashes of what looks like McLaren's Papaya Orange and even more splashes of rubber. (image: Peter Anderson)
How practical is the space inside? 8/10
The orange bits in the Edge highlight a couple of very handy storage ideas. The dash shelf that I've often praised in the Kluger as being exceptionally useful is here, as well as a Qi wireless charging pad in the same vivid colour.
Both are rubberised so stuff doesn't slide and clatter about. There are USB ports everywhere, too - one for the media system, two in the central console and two for rear seat passengers.
Given its likely use as a family car, the RAV's rear seat space is top notch. (image: Peter Anderson)
Boot space is better than before at 580 litres with the seats up, an improvement of 33 litres. As is Toyota's wont, we don't have a seats down figure.
Given its likely use as a family car, the RAV's rear seat space is top notch. I had tons of room behind my driving position (I'm just under six feet) and number one son who is well north of six foot tall also had enough room for his knees and giant headphones.
It comes with an electric driver's seat. (image: Peter Anderson)
The front seats are fantastic, which is becoming a trend for Toyota and the segment.
There are four cupholders and bottle holders, two up front and two in the back.
Boot space is better than before at 580 litres with the seats up. (image: Peter Anderson)
As is Toyota's wont, we don't have a seats down figure. (image: Peter Anderson)
No turbos, no obvious trickery, just a classic Toyota machine, but this time it has a bit more power than previous cars. Irritatingly, you can't get the 163kW hybrid powertrain here at the top of the range.
You get 19-inch alloys. (image: Peter Anderson)
The all-wheel drive system keeps the power up front for the most part, but can send up to fifty per cent to the rear.
The rear axle also has some clever torque vectoring tech. It won't have you out mixing it with a Land Rover Defender, but the system should make the RAV4 pretty handy in the rough stuff.
There is a terrain select dial where you can choose three different modes (mud and sand, rock and dirt, and snow).
How much fuel does it consume? 7/10
The sticker on the windscreen will draw fuel from the 55 litre tank at a rate of 6.1L/100km, which would be nice if it happened. My week with the RAV4 cost fuel at a rate of 10.2L/100km.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 8/10
The RAV4 arrives with seven airbags (including driver's knee), stability and traction controls, forward collision warning, AEB (with pedestrian detection and daytime cyclist detection), lane keep assist, reversing camera, high beam assist, road sign recognition, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Edge comes with a space saver spare. (image: Peter Anderson)
Warranty & Safety Rating
5 years / unlimited km
ANCAP Safety Rating
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 8/10
Toyota is close to leading the pack with warranty these days with a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and that can go up to seven years for the engine and transmission if you keep the car properly serviced.
If you return to a Toyota dealer every 12 months/15,000km, you'll pay $210 per service, which is absurdly reasonable.
What's it like to drive? 7/10
I came in to the RAV4 expecting good things. Underneath the chunky body is Toyota's Next Generation Architecture (TNGA) which is also under every good Toyota I've driven in the last couple of years - Corolla, C-HR and Camry.
The RAV is quite different to all of those cars. It rides higher and Camry excepted, is heavier. I also had reservations - the new RAV4 is chunkier than the old car by a fair margin and that rarely brings good news.
The first bit of good news before I even got going was finding out that the 2.5-litre engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic.
The new cabin is a pleasing step up from the old car's. (image: Peter Anderson)
Getting underway, it felt slushy but is still preferable to a CVT. It may also have felt a bit slow because the engine makes quite a racket, especially compared to other cars in the segment.
A Tucson of the same grade packs a quiet, smooth 1.6-litre turbo and you can have a 2.5-litre turbo unit. You have to rev the RAV to get it moving, which partially explains the gap between claimed and real-world fuel usage.
Enough of the complaints, because the RAV4 is good. Very good. Quiet once you hit the cruise and super comfortable front and back, this thing will destroy road trips. The stereo will drown out the road noise, too.
Around the suburbs the ride is firm on the big alloys and even on 55 section rubber, it's a bit jumpy on sharper bumps like expansion joints. The chassis handled bigger bumps and depressions quite happily.
This new RAV4 has converted me. The TNGA platform is delivering cars that aren't just good transport but really very good cars. (image: Peter Anderson)
I am very pleased to report that it's good fun to chuck around. Despite that high-riding weight, it changes direction really well and it takes a lot to get to the eventual gentle understeer when you're really pushing.
The old car was a wooden duffer, with no steering feel and a deeply ordinary set of numbers when it came to performance.
On top of all that, the tech works pretty well and the lane keep assist doesn't try and break your thumbs or pierce your eardrums to keep you in your lane.
This new RAV4 has converted me. I didn't like any of the previous ones, with varying levels of displeasure. None of them were bad, they were just dull transport wrapped in what Toyota thought was fun.
The fifth-generation RAV4 joins the C-HR and new Corolla as genuinely likeable cars. Toyotas have always been 'good cars' - solid, dependable and could take a pounding few others would even contemplate. But that's not enough anymore and the TNGA platform is delivering cars that aren't just good transport but really very good cars.
The only problems with the Edge are that it costs too much and isn't a hybrid. Both of those things will probably have you saving a few bucks and buying the Cruiser hybrid.
Does the RAV4 relight the Toyota fire in a very hot part of the market? Tell us what you think in the comments below.