Toyota RAV4 Limited (Diesel) 2013 Review

August 26th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

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?

toyota-rav4-diesel-limited-rqIf 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.

toyota-rav4-diesel-limited-interiorThe 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.

More features

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.

toyota-rav4-diesel-limited-bootFor 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.

The engine

toyota-rav4-diesel-limited-rear-seatsTowing 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.

toyota-rav4-diesel-limited-reversing-camera

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.

Price: $62,790

Pros

  • Well-appointed
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Noisy engine
  • Needs to up its game

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

Holden Malibu CDX 2013 Review

August 23rd, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Pleasantly surprised is what I was when I finally got in the Malibu. I had just been too busy to refresh myself with what the Malibu is all about and in my mind I was thinking is was (but hoping it wouldn’t be) a direct replacement for the decidedly average Epica. The Epica was quite a dreary car that we tested back in 2008 and the Malibu is anything but.

holden-malibu-cdx-2013-rqTaking a walk around the outside, there are some long lines that make this car look sleek. A rebadged Chevrolet Malibu, Holden bills it as a mid-sized car, but it gives the impression of being a large car. It’s also got that slight nose forward stance that delivers a bit of a sporty aura, and you can add those square afterburner taillights (á la Camaro) in to the design mix and you’ve got a rear end that’s visually distinct. There’s even a hint of BMW at the rear if you look from the side.

holden-malibu-cdx-2013-dashboardOn the inside, the 7-inch MyLink touchscreen dominates the dashboard. The MyLink system comes with Bluetooth connectivity and built-in app technology – think streaming radio, for example – and the screen doubles as the display for the reversing camera and general vehicle controls. The screen itself conceals a convenient cubby hole for a bit of extra dashboard storage.

Storage in the boot is 545l. The boot is long and not that deep, and perhaps slightly compromised by the 73-litre fuel tank (usually you’d get 60-65 litres in a mid-sized car). The long boot eats into the rear legroom. Rear legroom is not cramped, but it’s not as good as, say, a Honda Accord.

Continue reading “Holden Malibu CDX 2013 Review” »

Holden Cruze CD Sportwagon 2013 Review

March 18th, 2013 by darren

holden-cruze-sportwagon-fq

The Cruze Sportwagon has the Holden corporate nose, but it’s nowhere near as aggressive as a Commodore. Its 16-inch steel wheels and hubcaps, and safe styling make it blend in to the crowd; the perfect fleet car. From the front and side it looks quite sleek; from the back it looks a little dull.

holden-cruze-sportwagon-sHowever, I prefer its look over the Toyota Corolla wagon which has a weird confluence of lines between the lights, front bumper and wheel arches that occasionally makes it look like Continue reading “Holden Cruze CD Sportwagon 2013 Review” »

Toyota Land Cruiser LX Turbo Diesel 4 Dr Double Cab CC Review

January 24th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

At the very toughest end of the Toyota range sits the Land Cruiser 70. It’s a purebred workhorse designed to haul and tow whatever is required over terrain that is rugged and unforgiving.

Propelled by a seemingly unstressed 4.5-litre turbodiesel V8 with 151kW and 430Nm, the Land Cruiser 70 will pull 3500kg (with braked trailer) while Continue reading “Toyota Land Cruiser LX Turbo Diesel 4 Dr Double Cab CC Review” »

Hyundai i30 Elite 2012 Review

December 10th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Hyundai is a brand in transition. Aiming for the Euro market, it has smartened itself up considerably in the past few years and is setting vehicles from VW group as its target. The obvious competitor to the i30 Elite is the 103kW Volkswagen Golf TDI. There’s only a couple of grand in the price difference, and the specifications are comparable.

On the outside, Hyundai’s new ‘Fluidic sculpture’ design language can be seen in a multitude of visual lines that begin at the nose and head towards a strongly creased flank with its prominent wheel arches right around to a very strong boot crease that integrates beautifully with the flow of the rear lights. The designers (housed in a studio in Russelsheim, Germany) packed in a lot of detail, to the point of risking a busy mish-mash, but they’ve pulled it off with only the Continue reading “Hyundai i30 Elite 2012 Review” »

Kia Rio LX ISG Diesel Review

November 16th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

You can hear the silence of this Kia Rio saving fuel every time you pull up to an intersection, put it in neutral and take your foot off the clutch. It’s because the engine quickly shudders to a stop meaning you’re not burning up precious diesel while waiting for all those other idiots who decided to take their journey (inconsiderately) right at the same time you did.

Push the clutch in again and the engine fires into life in a split second – about the same time as it takes to put it into gear – and you’re away. This is Idle, Stop and Go, or ISG in Kia’s vernacular, and it enables the Rio’s to get down to Continue reading “Kia Rio LX ISG Diesel Review” »

BMW 320d 2012 Review

October 27th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

The entry level model to BMW’s 3 series is surprising, mainly because if you’ve driven older base model 3s like the 318s from a few years ago you’d be expecting something kind of lacklustre and limp.

This obviously didn’t sit well with BMW. The base model is likely to be the best-seller, especially in Europe, where diesels are far more accepted, and you want to put your best precisely engineered Germanic foot forward.

BMW has cranked up Continue reading “BMW 320d 2012 Review” »

Suzuki Swift Diesel 2012 Review

July 30th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki’s best-selling small car, the Swift, has received a 1248cc diesel heart which shuns fuel like beauty queens shun calories. As such, the Swift can claim 4.2l/100km fuel economy which puts it near the top of the pile.

If you’re familiar with the Swift you’ll know it is New Zealand’s best-selling small car, and for good reason. Its compact, attractive design, around-town practicality, go-kart-like handling and low price has won admirers from all ages, genders and socio-economic backgrounds.

Petrol engines are never stupendously economical, though. Now we’re all aware of fuel economy it has become a driving factor in which car to buy. In the petrol vs diesel argument, diesel Continue reading “Suzuki Swift Diesel 2012 Review” »