My New RAV4

On the weekend I took delvery of my 2009 RAV4 CV. (Australia gets the japanese built model) Having had such a good run from my 1994 Rav4 three door, I was keen to get a RAV4 again.

The 2009 Rav4 has a few enhancements from the previous years model, namely a slight change in the grille, the taillights, addition of turn indicators mounted in the mirrors and minor changes to the dashboard.

The interior. As will the previous model the interior of the RAV4 is roomy considering its size. The seats are comfortable and fabric covered, and wider than the 1994 seats.

One thing that drew criticism from my missus is the large climate control knobs on the dashbaord. “ They look like knobs from my kitchen oven” She said. And I had to agree – the dished controls in the cruiser seemed a lot nicer to look at. But I have found that after using them that the “ oven knobs are quite ergonomic – easy to read and adjust. So although they might not be the most elegant looking controls, they do work well.

The plastic surround is different compared to other photos I have seen of Rav4 interiors – it now is more subdued in brightness and has a brushed steel look, and it pleasing to the eye.

The instrumentation is well lit and the other controls are easy to find . I do find the steering wheel quite small, and I wondered why they designers of the RAV4 chose such a small steering wheel, and after getting in an out the RAV a few times I found that it might have to do with the typical seat position and that a large steeering when would get in the way of getting your thighs out from under the wheel.

The rest of the interior is well laid out with an amazing 8 drink holders around the cabin.

The boot space is very large for a car this size especially if you take into account the area under the boot’s floor ( normally used by the spare wheel in most cars.

A cargo net and cargo blind is supplied as standard.

The rear seats are roomy with plenty of leg room and kids can see out of the car easily.

There is a lap sash belt for the centre rear seat passenger, which involved using a car key to release one of the buckles allowing it to retract completely into the car roof.

One criticism I have read about the RAV is the poor visibility to the rear . Most blame it on the rear wheel being in the way, but I think it is a combination of the slightly small rear window, the larger rear pillars and the slight convex side mirrors making it hard work to back the rav into a car park. I can now see why they are pushing the rear parking sensors and rear camera as attractive accessory.

Of course the rear visibility is no worse than my Holden Commodore, but I suppose when buying a new car everyone wants it to be perfect.

The engine is relatively quiet, and is ticking over at about 2400 RPM at 100 Kmh. While cruise control on and the RAV in 5th gear the engine has enough torque to power up most hills and only requires shiofting back for the steep ones. Although I need to explore this a bit further as I havent owned a car with cruise control before.

Some of the things my 8 year old Commodore had, that the Rav4 is missing are : –

    an electric adjustable driver’s seat. ( which I dont really miss)

    a speed alert reminder ( this might cost me a ticket of two.)

    a trip/ fuel consumption computer – this is the thing I miss the most, I cant understand why it is missing from a modern car. With all the traction control , stability control airbags, etc how hard can it be to add a trip computer?

The brakes and the ABS pull the RAV up quickly with no fuss. The tyres supplied on the vehicle are Bridgestone Duellers whereas the previous model ( at least on the V6 ) was supplied with Yokahamas.

The suspension gives a firm ride with a minimum of body roll but has enough give in it to make easy work of potholes, and there are no annoying rattles as yet.

Under the bonnet the layout of the motor is relatively uncluttered for a modern car, an simple jobs shouldnt be too hard. The alternator is at the front of the motor as is the exhaust manifold. Topping up fluids should be easy.

I am considering getting a nudge bar are the radiator is vulnerable behind that plastic bumper bar. One kangaroo could do a lot of damage to the front of the car and strand a motorist in the middle of nowhere with a busted radiator.

Surprisingly looking under the RAV the petrol tank is not at the rear of the car, its located on the left hand side of the underbody underneath the rear left passenger floor. The lowest point under the car seems to be the exhaust as it curves under the rear axle. – although the point where it exist the engine bay is at about the same level.

I’m still getting used to the car, but I am finding that it handles well for a SUV, has enough clearance at 200mm and when I tookit onto out local beach, didnt get bogged. ( the sand wasnt deep) the 4wd button didnt seem to make any difference to low speed handling on sand.

So Far I am very happy with the RAV – far more refined than our 1994 three door, but still has that RAV feeling.


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