Toyota 2016 RAV4 GX AWD diesel

Toyota 2016 RAV4 GX AWD diesel

The original 1995 Toyota RAV4 was a short wheelbase, two-tone roller skate. I spent many a kilometre bouncing around in one, and ruing the fact you couldn’t hide anything in the pitiful-sized boot. Then there was a long wheelbase version which was just a roller skate for a bigger foot.

Since the ‘90s the RAV4 has had, ahem, a ‘Ravolution’ and has become quite large. There’s now a roomy interior for passengers and their stuff, a proper boot (with 557 litres of space) and much improved safety and handling.

Toyota RAV4 GX AWD diesel 2016 front interiorThere’s some serious competition in this segment: Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson and Subaru Forester, among others. Fortunately the RAV4 is kind of keeping pace, although it couldn’t be said that it’s leading the class.

The last time I drove one in 2013 I thought the handling was OK, but not great, and my biggest gripe was the engine noise from the diesel motor.

The handling has improved, but the engine noise hasn’t. The diesel roar can be intrusive and it sounds harsh under acceleration. If you’re not going to drive that many Toyota RAV4 GX AWD diesel 2016 dashboardkilometres a year don’t buy the diesel; go for the petrol model instead.

Our test car is the GX specification. It is very obviously the base spec model. There’s a bunch of functions which I now expect to be standard on a base model car approaching $50k. Maybe not all of them, but at least some of them.

Noticeable by their absence are keyless entry and/or start/stop, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, automatic engine start/stop, some bits of the seat adjustment should be electric, and a decent steering wheel that doesn’t feel like the handle of a cheap broom.

Toyota RAV4 GX AWD diesel 2016 frontInstead, the RAV4 GX comes with features I wouldn’t necessarily expect such as heated and powered wing mirrors and LED daytime running lights.

It’s for this reason I can’t really recommend the GX as the first choice; go for the GXL and bargain the $51,990 price down as much as you can.

The GXL is packed with great features: you’ll get the radar cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry/stop/start, leather steering wheel and Toyota Safety Sense which includes Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert and Automatic High Beam. Why wouldn’t you buy this GX instead?

Toyota RAV4 GX AWD diesel 2016 bootAll grades in the range get the 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine which produces 110kW at 3600rpm, 340Nm of torque between 2000-2800rpm and delivers 6.6l/100km according to Toyota. It drives a 6-speed automatic with sequential S mode. Acceleration is brisk enough.

The RAV4 isn’t an all-wheel drive for show purposes. It’s got a lockable centre differential. However, if you want to take it off-road you’ll need to replace the 225/65R17 tyres with something a little knobblier.

On the road it strikes a good balance between comfortable cruiser and having fairly responsive handling for a vehicle of this type. It feels big when driving because the edges of the bonnet are raised, making it appear wider than it really is from the driver’s seat.

The multimedia system is excellent. I only ever use Bluetooth streaming or plug my phone directly into the car for any music requirements and they worked flawlessly. It does have radio and a CD player (if you remember what one of those is).

I’m going to reiterate my thoughts from my 2013 review of the RAV4: this particular model is spoiled by some critical user oversight.

If I’m buying a new car, I don’t want to feel that plasticky steering wheel because it’ll remind me for the next however many years that I couldn’t spring another few grand and get a leather one; I’d rather spend 46 grand on a one-year-old Limited RAV4. So, if you are hankering for a new RAV4, the GXL is the one to have.

Price: $46,990


  • Plenty of room
  • Handling is nicely balanced between comfortable and confident
  • Looks have matured and it’s now a handsome vehicle with presence


  • Noisy engine
  • Feels lacking in features
  • GXL is the model to go for, otherwise you’ll be annoyed at yourself forever

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