Home' Open Road Western NSW : OR0916 Contents MOTORING
AFTER SMALL CARS, medium SUVs are where the bulk of buyers
are heading, principally because they’re so easy to live with.
This segment is well stocked with reputable brands and among the
top handful are, of course, Toyota and Honda. Step in and out of a
modern SUV countless times a day and you start to forget about
things such as driving for sheer pleasure. It’s all about comfort,
familiarity, packaging and the simple efficiency of travel.
The Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V are long-standing, well-
respected models within their respective brands and have recently
been upgraded. Each has an enviable reputation for reliability, and
they deliver the essential requirements that families and retirees
alike seek. These mid-sized SUVs are notable for easy access, good
cabin space and everyday practicality.
Both models have recently been upgraded for 2016, and each
range starts with a budget two-wheel-drive, 2.0 -litre petrol manual
model for under $28,000 (plus on-road costs). But more popular
are automatic all-wheel-drive petrol variants, namely Honda’s
2.4 -litre VTi-S and Toyota’s 2.5 -litre GXL (our test cars). These
models add the potential for doing more touring adventures than
just those on your daily grind. As well as higher-grade, all-wheel-
drive petrol variants, both the RAV4 and CR-V have turbo-diesel
vehicles in their line-ups.
Honda launched a refreshed and restyled CR-V last November,
including a new display/audio touchscreen and new alloys. In
January, Toyota’s RAV4 adopted bolder exterior styling and a
redesigned cabin. The chassis was revised for sharper dynamics and
a more insulated, quieter ride.
Our test cars both have a five-star ANCAP safety rating. The RAV4
has a driver knee airbag, while the CR-V has a standard left-turn
blind-spot camera and front parking sensors.
Advanced safety items, including autonomous emergency braking,
lane departure assist, radar cruise control and cross-traffic alert, are
a $2500 option on all RAV4s, but such extra safety features are only
available on the top-spec CR-V for $3500.
Interior measurements are similar, so the differences here are
mainly in presentation and finish. The CR-V has more back-seat
width, while the RAV4 has marginally more head and leg room up
front, rake-adjustable rear seats, and better load versatility due to its
rival’s tip/fold back seat restricting the ultimate load length.
The most obvious difference is the RAV4’s more modern cabin
layout. Despite its slightly confronting dark, square dash, the Toyota’s
presentation is fresher and the usability more logical. By comparison,
the CR-V is brighter with a more open feel but it is plastic, has flimsy
controls, and the design has been around for a while.
Honda’s seating is also somewhat ordinary when compared with
the RAV4’s shaping and long-term support. For those needing to fit
child seats, the RAV4 places top tether points on the seat back, while
the CR-V has them in the roof, although this did not appear restrictive.
Also of note is the Honda carries a full-size alloy spare wheel and
the RAV4 has curiously gone with a space saver. This is despite
having more off-road features in its driveline, including a differential
lock and hill descent control, which make it decidedly more capable
on a bush track.
The CR-V ’s on-demand all-wheel-drive is a balance between
traction in sloppy conditions and better fuel economy. Its thirst is
actually more than its rival’s on paper, but in general use on test the
margin is reversed and neither car is that great all round.
The overall performance from both vehicles is good, with little
perceivable difference between Toyota’s six-speed automatic and
Honda’s older five-speed. The CR-V is arguably a little more agile
with a lighter steering feel around city streets and carparks.
While it glides easily on the open road, the CR-V also feels lighter,
with a tendency to jiggle over poor surfaces and on dirt. The RAV4 is
slightly heavier but feels more substantial, with a stiffer body
structure, and its suspension is generally more settled on rough roads.
Mid-sized SUVs are an innocuous tool of life, judged by how well
they disguise and cope with the tedium of the daily routine. With that
in mind, the conservative Honda CR-V is best suited to suburbia,
while the more modern Toyota RAV4 is superior on regional roads
and farm tracks.
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