by Seán Creedon

Toyota has given their RAV4 a proper revamp and it’s certainly much larger and chunkier than previous versions of the car. This fifth generation is a 2.5 litre hybrid version and it looks great and drives well also.

You now get a bolder look, with a new grille and overall the new version has sharper lines which makes the car look really long.

My test car came in white with a black roof. The wheel arches were high and squared-off which meant they showed off the impressive Dunlop Grandtrek PT30 tyres.

I didn’t need to go off-road last week, but with 218 brake power available I don’t think there would have been any problems if I wanted to get some muck on those tyres.

The RAV4 has been around since 1994 and back then it certainly made a big impression with Irish motorists. The name RAV4 is an acronym for ‘Recreational Activity Vehicle, 4-wheel Drive.’

Full hybrid

This new version is a full hybrid which means you can drive in electric mode as long as you have enough energy and then it switches to petrol when the energy runs out.

Interestingly Toyota produced a full electric version of their RAV4 from 1997 to 2003, but it was only on sale in parts of California.

You may remember the original RAV4 with the spare wheel on the back door, but this model is much bigger than the original. We Irish love our spare wheels and Irish customers do get a ‘spare saver’ spare wheel which is located in the spacious boot.

Inside the cabin has also received a make-over and the dash is dominated by the 8-inch infotainment screen which is just about ok.

The controls for the air conditioning looked like small flasks, but they worked perfectly. I also liked the simple old-fashioned buttons that controlled the radio. There are plenty of cup holders and USB charging points.

Overall there is very tidy look in the front of the cabin, but no Android or Apple CarPlay facilities.

Great view

The high-driving position gives a great view of the road and indeed you will feel like the ‘king of the road’ in this rugged-looking SUV.

In the back there is plenty of room for three adults and the windows are really large, so plenty of sunlight gets in.

We hear so much about electric cars and the two words that always follow are ‘Range Anxiety.’ So to avoid the dreaded ‘Range Anxiety’ I would suggest hybrid, until such time as we have fast charging points all over this island of ours and not just in the cities, big towns and motorways, but in every town, village and cross-roads.

Six out of every ten Toyotas sold in western Europe are hybrids. Why would you take on all that extra worry about ‘range’ with a fully electric car when you have the best of both worlds in a Hybrid.

There have been a few changes and variations to the RAV4 over the years, not all them successful. However, most people agree that after 25 years Toyota has produced an excellent version of the RAV4, which is available in front-wheel and all-wheel versions.

Prices start at €35,900 for the Aura version while the price of my Sport version I drove came in at €41,590. Road tax is €190.

The car attracted a lot of comments from people I met during last week; they simply wanted to know more about the RAV4 and as usual, the price.