It might not stand out in any one area, but the new Toyota RAV4 does a decent job, both as a tow car and as an everyday 4×4.

In strong winds the Toyota moved around more than the best cars in this class, but although the driver had to make steering corrections, the wandering never threatened to get out of control. In the lane-change test the RAV4 was pulled around by the caravan but it always pulled straight again. Compared with an Audi Q3 or VW Tiguan, though, the Toyota felt ragged.

The RAV4 was more at home in the hill-start test, thanks to four-wheel drive and a diesel engine with 251lb.ft of torque. So long as the handbrake was pulled on firmly it prevented the outfit from rolling backwards, and the Toyota pulled to the top of the slope without fuss.

Unhitch the caravan and the RAV4 continues to be competent but unexciting. Ride comfort could be better and the handling is a little stodgy compared with a Q3, though. There’s no shortage of poke from the engine but it is rather noisy.

On the plus side there’s plenty of room inside. Our practicality judges found room for a full load of holiday luggage and awarded extra marks for the rear-view camera, which is a real boon if hitching up on your own.

Toyota’s reputation for reliability and the five-year warranty make the RAV4 a sensible buy.

2018
Category Winners
2018 Up to 1400kg

Skoda Octavia

2.0 TDI 150PS SE L DSG

2018 1400-1549kg

Skoda Superb

2.0 TDI 150PS SE L Executive

2018 1550-1699kg

Peugeot 5008

2.0 BlueHDi EAT8 S&S GT

2018 1700-1899kg

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport

2018 1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery

3.0 Td6 HSE

2018 Best Family SUV

Volvo XC40

Volvo XC40 D4 AWD R-Design Pro

2018 Best Petrol Tow Car

Kia Stinger

2.0 T-GDi GT-Line

2018 Best Ultralight Tow Car

Volkswagen Polo

1.0 TSI 115PS SEL DSG

2018 Fuel Economy Award

Hyundai i30 Tourer

1.6 CRDi 110PS Premium

Previous Winners
2017
1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery

3.0 Td6 HSE*

2016
1400-1549kg

Skoda Superb Hatch

2.0 TDI 150PS SE Business

2015
1400-1549kg

Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI BMT 150PS SE Business DSG

2014
1400-1549kg

Nissan Qashqai

1.6 dCi (130PS) Stop/Start System Acenta Premium

2013
Up to 1424kg

Skoda Octavia

2.0 TDI CR 150PS Elegance

2012
1725–1899kg

Jaguar XF

2.2D Premium Luxury

2011
1425-1574kg

Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI 170 Bluemotion Sport

2010
1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery 4

3.0 TDV6 XS

2009
1900kg+

Volvo XC60

D5 SE Geartronic

2008
1575-1724kg

Ford Mondeo Estate

2.0 TDCi Titanium auto

2007
1575-1724kg

Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI Sport 4Motion

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