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.

Category Winners
2019 Up to 1400kg

Škoda Octavia

Hatch 1.5 TSI 150PS SE L DSG

2019 1400-1549kg

Seat Ateca

2.0 TSI 190PS FR DSG

2019 1550-1699kg

Volkswagen Arteon

2.0 TDI 150PS Elegance DSG

2019 1700-1899kg

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport

2019 1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery

3.0 SDV6 HSE

2019 Best Budget 4x4

Dacia Duster

1.5 dCi Ambiance 4x4

2019 Best Plug-In Hybrid

Land Rover Range Rover Sport

P400e HSE Dynamic

2019 Best Ultralight Tow Car

Seat Arona

1.0 TSI 115 FR

2019 Fuel Economy Award

Ford Focus Estate

1.5 EcoBlue 120PS Titanium X

Previous Winners

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport


Land Rover Discovery

3.0 Td6 HSE*


Skoda Superb Hatch

2.0 TDI 150PS SE Business


Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI BMT 150PS SE Business DSG


Nissan Qashqai

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

Up to 1424kg

Skoda Octavia

2.0 TDI CR 150PS Elegance


Jaguar XF

2.2D Premium Luxury


Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI 170 Bluemotion Sport


Land Rover Discovery 4

3.0 TDV6 XS


Volvo XC60

D5 SE Geartronic


Ford Mondeo Estate

2.0 TDCi Titanium auto


Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI Sport 4Motion

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