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

Toyota RAV4 GXL AWD 2013 Review

July 31st, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

It’s not really a soft roader because it has a lockable differential to augment its all-wheel drive, so if you put a decent set of off-road tyres on it, you’ll get to some remote places. There’s also 167mm of ground clearance (22cm more than an Aurion) and a 132kW, 233Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine to help you pull your way through the mud.

toyota-rav4-gxl-2013-rqThe RAV4 GXL’s off-road smarts continue with Downhill Assist Control, and that backs up the other safety electronics: ABS, Brake Assist (BA), Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRC), and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC). Seven airbags are fitted as standard.

toyota-rav4-gxl-2013-rear-lightThe engine returns 8.5l/100km (Toyota’s figures, presumably when driving in ECO mode) and emits 198g/km of CO2. You can take control of the 6-speed automatic transmission and move the lever to S mode for sequential changes.

Fitting with the trend of almost every other new automobile, the RAV4 has thick rear pillars and swoopy lines that make it difficult to judge when reversing. Fortunately there is a reversing camera with static guidelines and four sensors on the rear bumper to make sure you don’t run into anything.

The seats are large – almost too large for someone like me who has an aerodynamic body shape. If you’ve been at the pies, though, you will appreciate the RAV4’s seat width. It feels like it’s been engineered for the American market, and this flows through to the soft(ish) suspension that rides very well on NZ’s rough roads, but makes it feel a little like an SUV in the corners. Continue reading “Toyota RAV4 GXL AWD 2013 Review” »

Toyota Aurion Sportivo ZR6 2013 Review

May 23rd, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

The Aurion is the car that almost bridges the gap between Toyota and Lexus. You get the same 200kW, 336Nm, 3.5-litre V6 that you’ll find in an RX350 and, while the interior is not quite Lexus standard, it’s perfectly acceptable (with a few minor foibles I’ll get to later).

toyota-aurion-sportivo-rqIt’s not rear-wheel drive, so in this segment you’ll have to look to a Falcon or Commodore to get your steering-on-the-throttle kicks (and even that’s been reigned in with the current traction control settings in most cars). Anyway, the Aurion is not
Continue reading “Toyota Aurion Sportivo ZR6 2013 Review” »

Toyota Corolla Levin ZR vs Corolla GLX (2013) Review

February 18th, 2013 by darren

Toyota-Corolla-Levin-fq

When it comes to popularity contests the Corolla Levin ZR and GLX are the Wills and Kate of the car world. The Corolla, a 5-door, front-wheel drive hatchback, is the biggest-selling car by quite a long way, eclipsing the Ford F-Series, Volkswagen Golf and Volkswagen Beetle with (probably) more than 40 million units sold by the time you read this, versus around 36, 27 and 24 million for the others, respectively.

Toyota-Corolla-Levin-f-interiorWhile the new Corolla doesn’t have anything as interesting to the masses as a Continue reading “Toyota Corolla Levin ZR vs Corolla GLX (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” »

Toyota Corolla Wagon 2012 Review

November 29th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

In human terms, the Corolla’s oldest traceable ancestors would be living in the mid 1700s. In car terms, things move more quickly and 1966 saw the birth of the first Corolla. This new version is the eleventh generation that aims to continue to provide practical, no frills motoring.

It comes with a 1.5-litre petrol engine which needs to be worked hard to get it moving. You can get it in manual (recommended if you want to drive it) or CVT (recommended if you get stuck in rush hour frequently). You will get better economy from the Continue reading “Toyota Corolla Wagon 2012 Review” »

Toyota Prius v S-Tech 2012 Review

November 9th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Whether it’s by happy accident or you’ve planned it, your four or more children put you in a small minority in New Zealand. Strictly speaking, having lots of children isn’t the most environmentally friendly thing you could do. Fortunately Toyota has created a seven-seat Prius v that will help atone your ecological transgressions.

Typically you’d choose an SUV, like a Toyota Land Cruiser or Holden Captiva 7, or a minivan to transport your kids. Universally, though, these will Continue reading “Toyota Prius v S-Tech 2012 Review” »

Toyota Land Cruiser VX Limited 2012 Review

August 31st, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota’s flagship SUV packs a formidable list of features, but is it taking the traditional off-roader just too far? Starting in 1951 (which makes it the longest running Toyota model) out of a military jeep project, the 40 Series arrived in 1960. Square and coarse, yet revered off road, it sold well.

The Land Cruiser didn’t start to get softened edges until the 80 Series in 1989. More and more interior comforts were added, but the drivetrain could still take a beating.

Think about all those times you’ve seen Continue reading “Toyota Land Cruiser VX Limited 2012 Review” »

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