With prices for the standard RAV4 starting at £20,000, we were all set to compare the top-of-the-range model to the likes of the Hyundai Tucson, Honda CR-V and Nissan X-Trail.
But the price list says this 175bhp SUV is £26,797. That’s far beyond the realm of such challengers. Toyota is aiming the T180 at the likes of BMW’s X3.
After double-checking the price, it was confirmed – Toyota really is going after the big boys, hoping for a stake in the lucrative premium compact SUV sector.
The T180 is its big hope. Powered by a 2.2-litre diesel engine which develops 295lb-ft of torque, it can hit 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds and carry on to 124mph. This makes it more powerful and faster than its rivals, but it will take more than speed to lure buyers away from the prestige of BMW.
Toyota knows this, so it has crammed as much equipment as possible into the T180 as bait. You get as standard a comprehensive list of goodies: run-flat tyres and pressure-monitoring do away with the need for the tailgate-mounted spare wheel, which improves the car’s looks.
The chrome grille and darkened glass looked particularly good on our black car, as did the 18-inch alloys and smoked headlights. Wheel arch extensions add to a leaner, more aggressive look.
Inside, drivers get full leather, cruise control, heated electric and retractable mirrors, an electric sunroof and automatic headlights. The seats are heated and electric, phones can be routed through the Bluetooth hands-free system and satellite navigation is also thrown in.
Despite its claim to have the most powerful engine in its class, its price lands the T180 in the same ring as the Land Rover Discovery. It may be bigger, but the 4x4 credibility and heritage Land Rover has cannot be discounted when deciding who to give your £27,000 to. For that you can pick up a 2.7 TDV6, which while less generous with the gizmos, boasts 189bhp and a prestige name.
But the RAV4 has other virtues, too. Build quality is excellent and the interior is comfortable and easy on the eye. The exterior embellishments give the car much more presence.
The T180 certainly shifts, with a wide band of power and plenty of torque in any gear.
However, the clutch can be a bit heavy if you have to spend prolonged times in traffic.
Handling is impressive when you consider the size of the car. It won’t rival any sports cars, but thanks to techno-trickery like Active Torque Control – which adjusts front/rear torque bias depending on where it’s needed – the RAV4 always feels composed and in control through corners. Despite the tall ride height there is never too much body roll.
On the motorway, the addition of a sixth gear as opposed to the petrol models’ five-speed ’box means engine noise is minimised while cruising.
Although it initially seems like a mismatch, Toyota has put enough kit into the T180 to give it a chance at rivalling the likes of BMW and Land Rover.
Whether the practicalities of decent styling, power and handling will tempt the badge snobs remains to be seen.
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £26,797
CO2 emissions (g/km): 185
BIK % of P11D in 2006: 27%
Graduated VED rate: £160
Insurance group: 13
Combined mpg: 40.4
CAP Monitor residual value: £12,025/45%
Depreciation 24.62 pence per mile x 60,000: £14,772
Maintenance 3.12 pence per mile x 60,000: £1,872
Fuel 11.2 pence per mile x 60,000: £6,720
Wholelife cost 38.86 pence per mile x 60,000: £23,316
Typical contract hire rate: £509
At a glance
We don’t like
THREE RIVALS TO CONSIDER
THE RAV4 and X3 go head-to-head with the larger Discovery and Grand Cherokee and it’s the Land Rover which is the cheapest, if only by £10. The RAV4 comes loaded with equipment while the Disco is the entry-level model. The BMW has 17-inch alloys and cloth seats. The Jeep is only available as an automatic, but it is the most powerful with 215bhp.
Land Rover: £26,787
THE Toyota is the cheapest to service, run and maintain over the average fleet car life of three years or 60,000 miles.Add an RAV4 to your line-up and expect to pay around £1,872 to keep it on the road over the same period. The X3 will cost around £100 more, while the Discovery ups the cost to £2,124. The Jeep looks likely to cost a great deal more – £2,898 over three years, more than £1,000 above the Toyota.
Land Rover: 3.54ppm
ANOTHER win for the Toyota, with the best claimed fuel economy at 40.4mpg. Over 60,000 miles the RAV4 is likely to drink £6,672 of diesel. The BMW will cost £6,876 over the same period. The Land Rover has a larger engine and more bulk to haul around, and with its combined mpg of 30 it will cost around £8,988 in fuel. However, the thirsty Jeep returns an average of 27.7mpg – equivalent to £9,732-worth of diesel over 60,000 miles.
Land Rover: 14.98ppm
IT’S the first chink in the armour for the Toyota, according to CAP forecasts.Better residual values for the prestige marques leave the RAV4 in third place, holding on to 45% of its value and losing £14,772 over three years/60,000 miles. The BMW retains the most value at 47%, while the Discovery has the same RV as the RAV4 and will lose £14,737. The Jeep brings up the rear once again. The lowest RV of 44% means it will have a cash lost figure of £16,262.
Land Rover: 24.56ppm
A SLIM victory for Bavaria, as the BMW costs fractionally less to run than the RAV4 over a three-year/60,000-mile cycle – just £42 less, at £23,274. There is then a gap back to the larger cars. The Discovery will cost more than £2,000 extra to run and maintain over the three years, while the Grand Cherokee is likely to drain fleet managers’ budgets by £28,890, a whopping £5,616 more than the BMW.
Land Rover 43.08ppm
EMISSIONS AND BIK TAX RATES
THE RAV4 is the only car here not to attract an annual VED rate of £170, sneaking in at £10 less. It’s also the least polluting in terms of CO2, and as a result has a lower benefit-in-kind tax rate. Company car drivers in the 40% band face a bill of £241 a month. The X3 will set owners back £252 each month, while the relatively poor emissions really sink the Land Rover and Jeep. The Discovery will cost £312 a month, while the Grand Cherokee is £341.
Land Rover 249g/km/35%
WITH the most equipment, the highest fuel economy and lowest company car tax bills, the RAV4 puts up a strong case for itself. In cost terms it has the Land Rover and Jeep beaten. But there’s a car which stops Toyota from taking victory. The BMW X3 holds its value better and is cheaper to run, as well as having the right image to lure buyers in this highly fashion-conscious sector.