Text and photos by Neil Pagulayan
Good things come to those who wait and the 2017 Toyota RAV4 is a good argument for waiting for an update. This updated model has a sleeker look about it, interiors have a sportier feel and there are nice additional features.
This new RAV4’s new look starts with its front fascia; with a new bumper and grille design, LED daytime running lights and slimmer LED headlights. The rear has been re-done too with LED combination lamps. Black rocker panels line the inner wheel arch moldings to make for a tougher look. For sophistication in the city, there’s new, low-profile 225/65 tires on 17-inch wheels.
If you prefer simplicity in interior design, you’ll like the black leather, white stitched interior with both chrome and brushed aluminum accents. The instrument cluster has been updated with new backlit gauges and a multi-function display between the speedo and tachometer. Above it is the automatic day/night Anti-Glare rear view mirror.
Entertainment is provided by a six-speaker 6.5-inch touch screen audio system with GPS Navigation. You’ll also enjoy the sounds and road trips more as exterior noise intrusion has been reduced.
The brochure says it can seat five, though, depending on how big your friends are, we recommend keeping it to four to stay comfortable. There are lots of nooks and cubby-holes for stowing your things, and luggage space is pretty big. Since just about everyone has power hungry gadgets, the extra 12V outlet for the back seat is a perfect bonus.
Some features are accessible via a menu on the multi-function display like the parking sensor override, which used to have its own button. Thankfully, you still get an actual button for traction control override.
POWER AND CONTROL
Powering all of this is the 2AR-FE 2.5L four-cylinder Dual VVT-I engine that puts out 180-hp at 6,000 rpm and 233-Nm of torque at 4,100 rpm. This is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift and Super ECT.
There are three drive modes: Eco, Normal and Sport which change the response characteristics of the RAV4 ranging from economical to less than economical fuel consumption. Of course, Sport is where the fun happens with better response at the price of fuel. Toyota has made sure there are enough safety features with seven airbags, Vehicle Stability Control, Hill-start Assist Control, Downhill Assist Control and ABS.
On the road, power is just right for the size of the RAV4. It’s easy to point and handling is light thanks to the accurate electric power assisted steering. It has Macpherson struts up front and independent double wishbones in the rear. Driving this around the city in traffic is uneventful at best, but on the open road, it manages to stay planted even when taking some corners at speed. There’s a bit of body roll, but it would take some crazy driving to make this RAV4 to start to oversteer. That says a lot as you can pretty much drive this reasonably hard without it trying to kill you.
This Blue Metallic RAV4 4×4 Premium we tested sits at the top end of the its price scale at P2,066,000 with all its bells and whistles. The entry level 4×2 starts at P1,263,000, which is quite reasonable for a pretty good-looking, dependable SUV.