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Toyota RAV4 GX 2WD 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Richard Berry road tests and reviews the 2016 Toyota RAV4 GX 2WD with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

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Richard Berry road tests and reviews the 2016 Toyota RAV4 GX 2WD with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

This road test began as all do in the garage of our CarsGuide secret island headquarters. But the difference this time was stepping down out of a prestige SUV, walking the three metres across the carpark and climbing into the Toyota RAV4. The point? The price of the RAV4 was less than the cost of the options fitted to the fancy SUV. A whole SUV for less than the price of extra bits that go on another SUV?

Sure the RAV4 is the base-spec front-wheel drive GX, but it still lists at just under $30,000.

Now you can't compare those two SUVs, apples and oranges and all that. So how does the entry level RAV4 stack up against its true rivals, and is the entry level actually the pick of the RAV4 bunch?

More: Toyota has just announced another update which applies to the RAV4 from September 2016-onwards.

Design

Toyota was way ahead of its time when it launched the RAV4 in 1994. The huge SUV craze that grips us now was still decades away and the little RAV4 arrived to face very few rivals. That little four-wheel drive with the spare wheel on the back has come far since then, growing in size and sophistication.

The fourth-generation RAV4 arrived in 2013 and then in late 2015 it was given a makeover in an update also brought new technology to the medium sized SUV. You can tell an updated RAV4 by its sleeker LED headlights and taillights, while the upper grille is slimmer and the lower grille is larger.

The RAV4's cabin is stylish and comfortable, with a flowing design to the dash which has a premium feel.

You can spot a GX in the wild by its steel wheels – the rest of the range has alloys. The others also get roof racks as standard.

At 4605mm end-to-end, 1845mm across and 1685mm high the RAV4 is 35mm shorter and 25mm narrower than the Nissan X-Trail which has been its arch nemesis since 2001. The Mazda CX-5 is a relatively new rival but it's current king of the medium-SUV segment and a tad shorter than both at 4540mm long, but almost the same width as the RAV4 at 1840mm and a bit taller at 1710mm.

The RAV4's cabin is stylish and comfortable, with a flowing design to the dash which has a premium feel. There's dark cloth seats with a tasteful pinstripe pattern, but the optional rubber floor mats fitted to our example bring the executive style down – still there's something to be said about pulling them out and hosing them off when you're giving the car a bath.

Practicality

SUVs should be practical, otherwise what's the point, right? This where the RAV4 excels. There's big, rear doors which open wide making it easy on the back when lifting kids in and out of their child seats.

Rear legroom for fully grown humans is seriously impressively – I'm 191cm and can sit behind my driving position with about 100mm between my knees and the seat back.

The rear wheel arches do eat into those doorways and if you're leaving the car you'll find yourself having to slide over them slightly – you don't get that to the same degree in the X-Trail which has almost household door-sized openings.

The RAV4's luggage capacity is 577 litres (with a space saver spare wheel under the floor or 506 litres with the optional full-sized spare as in our test car) - that's 174 litres bigger the CX-5's boot space but 26 litres less than the five-seat X-Trail's.

This is a more comfortable and quiet RAV4 to drive.

A low load height of 645mm (about knee level for me) means there's no awkward lifting up and over a high lip as with some SUVs, too.

Our test car was also fitted with an optional cargo barrier which is a metal screen sectioning off the boot and a cargo barrier kit which consists of netted hammock style-shelf. The screen allows the cargo area to be filled to the roof and having a shelf means you can pack the boot without just stacking everything in a big heap – see below for costs.

In the second row there's two cup holders in the fold down centre armrest and two more up front. You'll also find bottle holders in all the doors.

Price and features

Our test car was the two-wheel drive RAV4 GX with an automatic transmission and it lists at $29,990. If you choose a manual gearbox, you'll pay $2000 less. The premium silver paint our car was wearing adds another $550, the car barrier costs $594 and the cargo kit is $200. The full sized spare is $300.

Another $2000 will get you into a four-wheel drive GX, or the same amount will let you step up into the two-wheel drive GXL. Decisions, decisions...

Standard features on the GX include LED headlights and taillights, DRLs, 6.1-inch touchscreen with reversing camera and rear parking sensors.

Mazda's base-spec two-wheel drive auto CX-5 is the $29,190 Maxx while the Nissan X-Trail equivalent is the $30,490 ST.

Engine and transmission

The two-wheel drive GX has a 107kW/187Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. The auto is a continuously variable transmission.

Fuel consumption

The CVT returns better fuel economy than the manual gearbox with Toyota claiming you'll get an average combined consumption of 7.4L/100km using 91 RON.

Driving

Toyota updated the RAV4 in 2015 with better insulation in an effort to make the cabin quieter, while revised shock absorbers and springs were fitted to improve the ride and handling. It worked – this is a more comfortable and quiet RAV4 to drive.

But wait, there is still a fair amount of road noise filtering through and those standard Yokohama Geolander tyres squealed when pushed even slightly in the corners – more so than any other car or SUV we'd taken through the same test loop at the same speeds in dry conditions.

 The RAV4 GX is excellent Toyota hardware at a bargain price.

Apart from this the driving experience is a good one – with clear forward visibility, a good seating position and pedal feel, and a not-bad turning circle of 10.6m.  

The 2.0-litre engine isn't my favourite in the RAV4 range – I'm a big fan of the bigger 2.5-liter in the all-wheel drive – but it still has plenty of oomph and that CVT is one of the better of its kind.

Safety

The RAV4 GX carries the maximum five-star ANCAP rating. There's seven airbags and the expected ABS, traction and stability control, BA and EBD. Only the top-of-the-range Cruiser gets the advanced safety kit such as AEB, active cruise control and lane departure alert – items that aren't even offered as options on the GX.

There's two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether anchor points across the rear row for child seats.

Ownership

The RAV4 GX is covered by Toyota's three-year/100,000km warranty. Services are recommended every six months/10,000km intervals and this is capped at $180 for each of the first six services for three years or 60,000km, depending on which comes first.

Verdict

The RAV4 GX is excellent Toyota hardware at a bargain price. The four-wheel drive version is pretty handy for mild off-roading, but if you're after an SUV for the road with a bit of clearance for the odd dirt track then two-wheel drive will do the trick.

Is this the pick of the range? Well it's the most affordable and if the budget won't go further, then it's a smart buy. But if you can spend $4000 more, the sweet spot in the RAV4 two-wheel drive range is the GXL because you get proximity unlocking, roof racks, tinted glass, dual zone climate control and you can option the awesome advanced safety equipment on the mid-spec grade, too. That's great value for only $33,990 and guess what? That's still less than the total cost of the options on that luxury SUV.

Would you prefer a RAV4 to an X-Trail or a CX-5? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Toyota RAV4 GX 2WD pricing and spec info.

Pricing Guides

$23,999
Based on 517 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$16,490
Highest Price
$37,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Cruiser (4x4) 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $27,900 – 37,888 2016 Toyota RAV4 2016 Cruiser (4x4) Pricing and Specs
GX (2WD) 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $16,490 – 26,888 2016 Toyota RAV4 2016 GX (2WD) Pricing and Specs
GX (4x4) 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $19,500 – 27,999 2016 Toyota RAV4 2016 GX (4x4) Pricing and Specs
GXL (2WD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $23,887 – 30,888 2016 Toyota RAV4 2016 GXL (2WD) Pricing and Specs

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image of Honda CR-V Compare to the Toyota RAV4 Book A Test Drive Locate A Dealer
EXPERT RATING
7
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$13,913

Lowest price, based on 175 car listings in the last 6 months

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