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.