The RAV4 is no longer the ‘compact’ SUV it was 20 years ago when first introduced to Australia. It's nearly half a metre longer than the first five-door model in the late 90s. And it's much better equipped for comfort and safety features. Yet the intermediate-level RAV4 GXL tested here in petrol/CVT form costs less than $500 more than it did in 2012, when the current model was launched. It's about keeping your customers loyal..
There’s a new Mazda CX-5 just around the corner, and the medium SUV segment has never been so hard-fought. So how does a company like Toyota maintain interest in its RAV4 – now half-way through its current model life cycle?
The RAV4 GXL on test was a mid-range model packed with plenty of kit, including an optional Technical pack, comprising of Pre-Collision System with forward collision warning and automatic emergency brake, Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beam and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and front parking sensors.
Combined with the premium paint option the cost of the car rose above $41,000, which is around the level buyers are paying these days for a well specified medium SUV.
The additional driver-assist gadgets were a mixed bag. I found the forward collision warning system provided just enough notice in advance, without being strident and premature about it. So kudos to Toyota for that, but deduct some points for the Lane Departure Alert, which doesn’t cope well with Aussie country roads and was an incessant nag when it was working.
Big enough for mid-size family
The RAV4 was a strong package, as we found in a comparo against the Honda CR-V last year. There was abundant room in the boot and rear-seat passengers enjoyed plenty of knee and headroom, but the RAV4 lacked adjustable vents back there, and I personally don’t like the side-mounted light in the luggage compartment, which was blinding at night.
The front seats were very well shaped and supportive. They may be a little firmer than the seats of some rivals and the seat base could be a bit longer – although I’m not certain how that would square with the typical RAV4 target buyer anyway.
While the driving position was generally straightforward and well designed overall, the steering column could have done with more reach adjustment. And Toyota persists with a stub out of sight behind the wheel for the operation of the cruise control. It’s not hard to use, and it does operate the (optional) radar-based adaptive cruise control, but it would be ‘handier’ located on the spokes.
All the other controls were where they should be, including the switchgear on the wheel for flicking between different trip computer functions or changing tracks/stations and volume.
I found the instrument display fairly busy for ‘at a glance’ viewing at first, but it didn’t take long to adjust to the presentation, finding the information needed quite quickly.
The infotainment touch system was not presented in a tablet as is increasingly the fashion, but it’s easy to read in its large-screen format, quick to react to touch and not hard to navigate. Gently pressing on-screen buttons loaded a new page or menu item faster than we’ve seen in the past from other similar systems.
All the buttons gathered either side of the touch screen were labelled in a font appropriate for the visually impaired and, with the abundance of black upholstery and coordinating dark chrome throughout the interior, all the centre fascia needed to complete the packaging was the instruction ‘Don’t panic’ in big, friendly letters.
How it drives
As a driving proposition, the RAV4 tested rode softly and quietly, but without compromising handling and roadholding to the degree that some of its competitors do. That said, there are some rivals that corner and brake better on bitumen, and some rivals that are more capable on unsealed surfaces. It’s to the RAV4’s credit that it neatly straddles the fine line in between.
If one were to pit the RAV4 against Mitsubishi’s Outlander, for instance, the Mitsubishi would have the edge on the Toyota in off-road situations, but the RAV4 is more driveable on the road. Out in the bush the RAV4 on its standard (road-going) Dunlop GrandTrek tyres was just not in the same league as the Outlander.
Ultimately though, it wasn’t the tyres letting the RAV4 down. Even with the centre diff locked, the Toyota just didn’t have the engine output to overcome gravity without a run-up first. At least the RAV4 perched steadfast on a steep grade when the drivetrain cried enough. And in fairness to the Toyota, it was a petrol model, rather than the diesel-engined Outlander previously reviewed.
However, with a little bit of persistence and tackling one particular climb from a different angle the RAV4 was able to reach the top. But at the summit it became clear that the Toyota’s ramp-over angle is really not optimal for this sort of work. On the return journey the DAC (Downhill Assist Control) kept speed in check very capably.
Back on the bitumen, the RAV4 felt demonstrably superior to the Outlander, dynamically speaking. Ride comfort and brake pedal feel were both ‘soft’, but the brakes were quite dependable when put to the test at higher speeds.
Over smaller irregularities the Toyota just soaked it all up, but felt a bit busy over larger bumps and potholes. Around town the RAV4’s body control and ride qualities were perfectly acceptable. As a matter of fact, the RAV4’s ride/handling balance was unexpectedly good.
There was some sign of weight-driven handling traits, but in general the Toyota was safe and relatively close to neutral, erring on the side of understeer. Imminent loss of adhesion was clearly signalled by the wailing tyres, but not until the RAV4 was travelling at fairly alarming speeds, by SUV standards.
The Toyota tipped into corners neatly and the feedback was fine, other than some vagueness on centre. It’s no direct rival for Ford’s Escape (formally Kuga) or the Hyundai Tucson, but it’s ahead of most other competitors in its segment for on-road manners.
Subdued power delivery
On the move, the RAV4 proved fairly quiet. There was some subdued tyre noise at around 80km/h, dominated by more wind noise at freeway speeds. The 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine emitted a mild rumble at 100km/h, with the tacho reading just under 2000rpm.
Despite its showing in the bush, the engine in the RAV4 was not short of performance in the suburbs, although it felt anaemic on light throttle. In addition to the standard setting, there are two modes – Eco and Sport – to adjust the car’s power delivery. The Eco setting makes a discernible adjustment to the accelerator pedal feel. You have to push it further and harder to achieve the same performance. This contributes to the impression the RAV4 is a bit slow and uncertain. The Sport setting reverses that, but also shifts back a gear for the engine to be hitting its stride at around 3000rpm.
Open it up a bit and the RAV4 does actually go hard. It’s a reasonably pleasant (and refined) engine note at higher revs and is flexible right across the rev range. From launch it’s particularly lively.
Fuel consumption for the week was 11.7L/100km, which isn’t as dire as it sounds, considering the first 90 minutes in our custody the RAV4 sat in unmoving traffic with the air-conditioning running as Melbourne’s road network grappled with a load of offal spilled at the entry to the Burnley tunnel.
By the end of the week the RAV4 had cemented its position as a good all-rounder. There remains a niggling doubt, however… and that doubt is spelled ‘C-X-hyphen-5’.
2017 Toyota RAV4 GXL pricing and specifications:
Price: $41,500 (as tested, plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel: 8.5L/100km (ADR Combined)
CO2: 198g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety Rating: Five-star ANCAP (2016)
>> Hyundai Tucson (from $28,590 plus ORCs)
>> Mazda CX-5 (new model on the way)
>> Mitsubishi Outlander (from $28,750 plus ORCs)
Holden's Australian-built family car is just eight weeks away from extinction.
Holden’s Australian-built family car is just eight weeks away from extinction.
It’s a concept – a big car with a big engine created for a big country – that has been the mainstay of the Lion brand for more than 70 years, with iconic models like the Kingswood and Commodore often being the uncontested best-selling car across Australia.
Times have changed though, and on October 20, 2017, Holden will become the last fully-fledged Aussie car maker when it pulls the shutters down on its Elizabeth plant in the northern suburbs of Adelaide.
But, contrary to many public perceptions, Holden is not going anywhere and nor is the Commodore nameplate. Having now driven a selection of pre-production validation (PPV) models of the New Generation Commodore in and around Holden’s Lang Lang Proving Ground this week, the concept of a big family car tailored to our tastes and conditions won’t disappear either.
Based on the European Opel Insignia, there are a lot of fundamental changes between the old and new Commodore – it’ll be offered in either front- or all-wheel drive with four or six-cylinder engines and in hatch and wagon body styles only, meaning there will no Utes or V8-powered muscle cars – but it still comfortably continues the role of an affordable, spacious family car, just as it has done for hundreds of thousands of Aussie families since the original Commodore (which was coincidentally based on an Opel sedan) arrived in 1978.
Holden has yet to provide all the details of the new Commodore, including how much it will cost, how many models there will to be choose from and exact specifications, but during our most recent prototype drive we had the chance to compare a base-level European-spec four-cylinder Insignia against an equivalent Holden variant as well as two levels with the V6 and all-wheel drive powertrain – one with a more luxury focus that was clearly intended as a replacement for the Calais while the other was more sporty, like today’s SV6, that will sit below the flagship VXR.
Holden’s intention was to highlight the localised tuning its engineering team has conducted over the last 18 months to refine the steering, ride and handling characteristics compared to the European model.
The end result is, using Holden’s previous work on cars as varied as the Spark, Astra sedan and Trax baby SUV as a gauge, not all that surprising – in a positive way.
With a mandate to ensure there is a consistent thread of Holden’s dynamic DNA transferred from today’s Commodore into the new machine – despite the significant differences in its mechanical makeup – and continue to offer a family car that is “great to drive”, Holden’s engineering team has succeeded to nail the brief.
First of all, where the Opel-tuned model feels soft, wallowing over big bumps and leaning through the corners, the four-cylinder Commodore is just as compliant over road irregularities but has better body control, sits flatter in the bends and has a more positive and linear feel through the steering.
While not much has been done to tune the power train specifically for Australia, the 2.0-litre turbo charged four-cylinder petrol engine, which produces healthy outputs of 191kW and 350Nm, offers the kind of flexibility and efficiency that modern families demand, and yet could never have been achieved in the current Commodore.
The four-potter is smooth and refined, has plenty of mid-range punch and is exceptionally quiet, even when revved hard during heavy acceleration. It is nicely mated to a silky nine-speed automatic transmission that manages to keep it revving the sweet spot, whether it’s cruising at highway speeds or charging around the suburbs.
One thing that Holden hasn’t been able to completely eliminate is torque steer (when the steering wheel tugs in your hands when you floor the throttle), but otherwise the base-level car appears to be a dynamic match for the benchmark Mazda6 it will now line up against.
The V6 models are both less and more convincing in different ways. Powered by the latest-generation High Feature 3.6-litre V6, producing 230kW and 370Nm and with the ability to shut down two cylinders to save fuel, it drives all four wheels though a proactive but part-time all-wheel drive transmission with a torque-vectoring rear differential. The end result is they are heavier, thirstier and, with less low-down pulling power, the nine-speed gearbox is constantly rowing through the cogs to keep it on the boil.
As an everyday machine the four-cylinder makes more sense, but – and encouragingly for those that enjoy driving – it is surprisingly fun to pedal enthusiastically.
It’s a wildly different beast to a rear-drive, V8-powered SS Commodore, as it won’t burn the rear tyres or hang the tail out, but, riding on 20-inch wheels with 245/35 Continental tyres and with Brembo brakes as standard, it feels more agile, points quicker into the apex and has significantly more mid-corner grip thanks in part to the unique five-link rear suspension but mostly due to the pre-emptive all-wheel drive system that apportions torque to outside rear wheel while cornering.
The V6 even sounds great at the top of its rev range, with the closely-stacked middle ratios in the gearbox keeping it right in the meat of its power curve for maximum acceleration.
As for the rest of the car, there’s no point judging the quality of materials in these pre-production vehicles and Holden has yet to confirm final safety specifications and connectivity functions, but the cabin looks modern with good small item storage, the seats are comfy and the driving position is good. And it doesn’t feel much smaller than a current Commodore either in terms of occupant space, with huge amounts of rear legroom and a generous boot under the hatch (and an even larger cargo carrying area in the wagon). The sloping roofline in the hatch does, however, restrict rear headroom to those under 185cm tall, but overall it is more than adequate for families… just as the Commodore has done for generations.
Ultimately, the New Generation Commodore isn’t as loveable as the car it replaces and the reality of it entering a segment of the market that has some well-established competitors with loyal followings – like the Mazda6 and Subaru Liberty – means it will have a tougher task convincing Aussie families than ever before.
But, truth be told, this is exactly the kind of car the Commodore would have evolved into over time anyway. And, taking any rose-coloured glasses off, it still continues the concept of being a great Aussie family car. It just won’t be an Aussie-built family car for much longer.
2018 Holden Commodore Price and Specifications
On-sale: February 2018
Price: From $30,000 (estimated)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol / 3.6-litre V6 petrol
Power: 191kW / 230kW
Torque: 350Nm / 370Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, FWD / AWD
People always ask me, “so what are your rates”?
The Number 1 Question – What is your Interest Rate ?
Listed below is a simple & quick run-down on interest rates when it comes to purchasing your next vehicle.
People always ask me, “so what are your rates”? My bank/finance company told me on the phone that I will get 4.25% !!
Some companies advertise rates which are often quite far removed from what they can actually offer.
We have two main variable factors and when those two factors intersect that gives us the rate. The first variable is the Asset Class and the second is the Client Profile so let’s have a brief look at each.
ASSET CLASS – This means the quality of the asset, the speed of which the lender is able to get out of the asset if the loan defaults, the estimated loss the lender is likely to suffer if the asset is auctioned off.
CLIENT PROFILE – The client profile means the risk assessment on the lend correlated to the client’s profile, so has the client been in consistent employment, do they have comparable credit (Other loans), does the client have any blemishes on their credit file or is it clear? Is this client asset-backed with a property or are they renting? Can the client afford to pay the loan?
As you can see there are several factors that go into consideration when arriving at the interest rate on offer for each client looking to purchase a vehicle. There are some general rules of the game that are worth noting.
Firstly, the older the vehicle in general the higher the rate is going to be, secondly if you’re asset-backed and have a mortgage then most of the time the lender will require NO deposit & rates are often slightly cheaper.
In summary, rates vary a lot depending on the asset and the client profile and it’s about negotiating the best rate and term we can by pitching the deal to credit in a strong light accompanied by a range of supporting documents. A good broker will ask you a lot of questions, this is not because they are nosey, it is because the more information they have, the stronger they can make your profile – The stronger your profile is, the less risk deemed from the lender, the better your deal will be.
When we submit clients to credit we study profile in absolute detail and make sure that the credit analyst understands why the client is purchasing the asset and is in agreeance that it’s going to be a good financial decision to approve the loan.
This comes down to experience, tenacity and the desire to see our clients succeed. if you would like us to get you across the line or even just get a quote and plan for the acquisition of a future vehicle.
please don’t hesitate to call us on 1300 799225 or Apply Online www.getthatcarloan.com.au