A few weeks ago we tested the Toyota RAV4 GXL petrol. We commented that it was good, but definitely not class-leading. Now we’re dealing with the top-of-the-line RAV4 Limited diesel. It carries a substantial price tag at $62,790 (over $11,000 more than the GXL petrol), so is it worth it?
If you want to compare, read the GXL review here (opens in a new window). The Limited adds a lot more fruit, as well as the diesel engine, which I’ll get to in a minute.
The RAV4 is pitched into a crowded marketplace that includes the Mazda CX-5, Holden Captiva, Hyundai Santa Fe, Subaru Forester, Kia Sorento R and more. While the level of gear you get for the money compared to the price of the RAV4 Diesel Limited is variable, they’re all going to provide you fairly spacious and well-equipped motoring.
Satellite navigation is included in the Limited and displays in the 6.1-inch colour touchscreen. Its operation is reasonably intuitive.
A Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) warns you in your wing mirror if a vehicle is travelling in your blind spot by using radar sensors.
For the truly weak (and the very short), the powered rear door is handy. Actually, it’s handy even if you’re a basketball player and strong because you can easily close the tailgate while carrying things to and from the boot. One thing I would improve is how quick it closes because you can’t lock the RAV4 until it is fully closed, and by the time that lethargically happens I can walk almost out of range of the remote central locking.
The driver’s seat gets a few more motors in it to help with the electric adjustment of height, cushion tilt and lumbar support, plus both driver and passenger seats are heated. The seats are also leather, and you can get optional terracotta trims, as shown in our photos.
The cabin’s spaciousness is enhanced by opening the moon roof to let more light in.
On the exterior the headlights are HID (high intensity discharge) to accompany the LED park/daytime running lights and the Limited comes with 18-inch wheels vs. the GXL’s 17-inch alloys.
Towing capacity is 300kg better than the petrol, at 1800kg on a braked trailer as there’s more torque from the diesel engine (you can get the diesel version in GX, GXL and Limited models, not just the limited). The engine produces 110kW and 340Nm and Toyota reckons that’s good for 6.5l/100km (if you’re using the eco mode).
It’s connected to the same 6-speed automatic gearbox with SIEC (Super Intelligent Electronic Control), AI (Artificial Intelligence) and sequential S mode, as well as Flex Lock Up control.
The engine is the main problem with the RAV4. It’s noisy; agriculturally noisy and harsh sounding. There’s a nautical saying: to spoil the ship for ha’porth o’ tar. It means that you have a good product then you compromise it by omitting one simple thing (i.e. you’re compromising the ship by not putting a half-penny’s worth of tar on it, which means it’ll leak in that spot). This is what I feel has happened with the RAV4. Now, I’m not saying that it’s class-leading even if it had a better motor, or that a motor is a ‘simple thing’. The RAV4 is an SUV which will undoubtedly perform, but it doesn’t lead the way even with the petrol version, and with the diesel I just couldn’t see myself putting up with the motor.
So, as I mentioned in the review of the GXL, there are some nice features such as the cargo hammock in the boot; it’s extremely comfortable and spacious, and of course you’ve got some four-wheel drive smarts with the lockable differential so it’ll be useful for light off-roading and areas that see snow. In general, I like diesels, and some manufacturers do them very well, but I’m not sure about this engine. Add into the mix the fact it’s still a little wallowy and unwieldy feeling on the road, and I think I’d be looking hard at the competitors like the 2.2-litre diesel Hyundai Santa Fe, and more so the diesel Mazda CX-5. The engines in Holden’s Captiva and Kia’s Sorento R and Sportage aren’t really any better and the Captiva’s seats are well outclassed by the RAV4, so unless you want to save $15,000, I wouldn’t go there. You could even consider a Subaru Forester as a competent all-rounder.
- Noisy engine
- Needs to up its game
Words and photos: Darren Cottingham