Gun motorsport (and supercar) photographer and all-round excellent fellow, Rhys Vandersyde, reviews his own Toyota RAV4 Edge.
Sure the latest iteration of the Toyota RAV4 is getting a good wrap at the moment, especially the hybrid models. But what about the non-hybrid Edge version?
Paying homage to the 4×4 versions of the Toyota RAV introduced in the late 1990’s, the go almost anywhere but very much “softroader” attitude of those early RAV4’s has been re-envisaged with the current modernised Edge.
By no means is it a full off-roading, get you anywhere you could dream of going type machine. But it does give you that little bit of hope that you could be almost as adventurous as your friends who own proper 4WDs. You know, those two/three times a year.
Based on that description alone, you might think that the ruggedised Toyota RAV4 Edge would be a sidewards step in the range as alternative to the very popular hybrid models, especially given the current waiting list on those versions. Instead it sits at the top of the current model line-up, above the GXL that Peter recently reviewed as well as the previously top-tiered Cruiser. That said, it is decked out accordingly with some top tier trimmings.
So, with the current wait times on the super popular RAV4 hybrid, do you stick with the cheaper 2WD non-hybrids, spend the extra money on the top tier Edge or look at any number of other brands mid-sized SUV offerings? Spoiler alert… I picked the Toyota RAV4 Edge as my daily driver so I’m going to tell you all about it.
Words and images: Rhys Vandersyde
HOW MUCH IS a 2020 TOYOTA RAV4 EDGE AND WHAT DO I GET?
GX: $34,700 (manual FWD) – $42,460 (hybrid AWD)
GXL: $39,890 (auto FWD) – $45,550 (hybrid AWD)
Cruiser: $43,490 (2WD) – $49,200 (hybrid AWD)
Edge: $51,820 (auto AWD)
As I just mentioned, the Edge is the most expensive variant in Toyota RAV4 line-up at the moment and the only version not to offer a hybrid option.
With that $50k price tag, you get unique exterior and interior styling that includes bigger 19-inch two-tone alloy wheels and front bumper/grill exclusive to the Edge that looks like it has come off the North American, Toyota Tacoma.
You will also get an upgraded 9 speaker JBL audio system with DAB+, tilt and slide moonroof (with a $1365 option to upgrade to a panoramic moonroof), power-assisted rear door, panoramic around-view cameras and softex seats (a synthetic hardwearing leather alternative, apparently) on top of the features already included on the other RAV4 models (see Peter’s GXL review).
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now installed out-of-the-box across the Toyota RAV4 range (previously they had been offered as a free upgrade on the new model when it was originally released in 2019) which is a significant improvement on Toyota’s native software included on the 8.0-inch central touchscreen.
(Rhys is being kind to Toyota’s head-unit – it’s horrific – Peter)
Also unique to the Edge is the off-road drive mode select dial with options for Mud/Sand, Rock/Dirt and Snow (on top of the usual Eco, Normal and Sports modes) as well as Downhill Assist Control and a Torque Vectoring Differential to help it live up to its namesake. Which at the very least will give you the feeling that you could be really adventurous, you know… if you really wanted to be.
In terms of colours, Jungle Khaki (a green/brown-ish grey) is the only free colour on the Edge with a $600 upgrade to Eclipse Black, Atomic Rush (metallic red), Electric Blue or my pick of the colours, Graphite (gunmetal grey)
SAFETY: 5 STARS (ANCAP, MAY 2019)
Toyota’s Safety Sense is common across the entire RAV4 range, including lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward AEB with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, road sign recognition, auto high beam and active cruise control.
By default, all these features are turned on at their most obnoxious settings the car will beep and talk to you almost constantly while driving, which can be annoying. You will need to dive into the menu setting on the dash to tweak and fine-tuning back down to something more reasonable.
You also get seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, trailer sway control, blind-spot monitor and reverse cross-traffic alert. Cruiser and Edge models get the addition of a panoramic view monitor for a 360º vision while parking.
Two ISOFIX points and three top-tether anchors are available for the child seating.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
5 years/unlimited kilometres
5 years fixed-price servicing
The warranty and the cost of ownership is one of the areas that Toyota really makes its mark, particularly with its capped-price service offering.
Toyota also now bolsters its legendary reliability by offering a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty across the range.
The warranty on the engine and transmission can also be extended by a further two years if you maintain your servicing within the Toyota’s dealer network.
At only $195 per service and a service interval of 12 months/15,000km, there is no real reason to maintain your RAV4 anywhere other than Toyota.
LOOK AND FEEL
As a long time Toyota RAV4 owner, I really like the more angular aggressive look on the exterior of the current model. It’s got a bit of attitude about it. Something the mid-size SUV market has really been lacking recently, in my humble opinion.
The Edge variant takes it one step further with the aforementioned additional styling pack and bigger wheels that just subtly gives the car a bit more of a gritty rugged look. That might appeal to those who want to have that appearance of being a bit more outdoorsy, much like those late 90’s Subaru Outback owners.
Peter’s assessment that the little strip of black on the C-Pillar is spot-on, it really is just oddly positioned. At least with the darker paint (Graphite) it becomes significantly less noticeable.
Inside the RAV4 Edge, it’s almost what I would consider to be roomy for what I normally expect from a mid-size SUV with plenty of space to comfortably sit four adults with a boot load of luggage for a weekend away style road trip.
The pseudo leather seats, officially called softex, are a lot more comfortable that I was initially expecting just by looking at them. They also seem to be more resistant to heat and cold than traditional leather seats, not that I’ve done a side by side comparison. That said, the front seats also feature seat warmers and coolers to make things comfortable more quickly in the extremes.
The orange trim details in the interior is going to be one of those things people either love or hate. I really love it because it gives the Toyota’s (and the mid-size SUV market for that matter) traditionally neutral look a bit more personality which helps match the exterior. It just make the inside of the car interesting.
Toyota have also taken into consideration the whole family with 5 USB ports (only the one in the central console integrates with the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto system) as well as a Qi enabled wireless charging pad that will handle any sized phone, to keep all your gadgets charged up on the go.
While everything else about the interior in functional and practical, you know Toyota-ery…
CHASSIS AND DRIVETRAIN
2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol
The Edge shares the same naturally aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine as the RAV4 GXL and Cruiser hybrid variants.
However what the Edge does differently is swaps out the CVT, electric motors and batteries to instead deliver the 152kW through a proper eight-speed automatic gearbox and the torque vectoring all wheel drive system to all four wheels. Completely different to the rest of the AWD variants of this latest RAV4 which rely exclusively on eclectic power for the rear wheels.
Fuel figures: 7.3/100km (claimed, ADR)
Real world: 7.6L/100km
My typical driving is a good mix of long-haul trips up and down the motorway as well as short, quick trips around town and occasionally off-road adventure. But for the most part, I avoid a lot of that start-stop city driving, so I tend to get a little closer to the manufacturer numbers than most people.
I’ve always said this as a Toyota RAV4 owner, it’s a functional, practical car that is easy, bordering on boring, to drive. It’s the everyday car that will just hum along and get you exactly wherever you need to go.
That said, this latest version is a significant improvement in a lot of areas. Firstly, it’s a lot more nimble to drive than its predecessors. It points when you steer, and it holds the road with much less body roll making it a lot more comfortable and dare I say it, even fun driving experience on the twisty stuff.
By no means will you confuse it with a sports car but let’s just say it’s no longer completely boring to drive either.
Once you take the RAV4 Edge off road, which how this one is marketed, it maintains that comfort level. The suspension manages the bumps of a gravel bumpy road with ease considering the standard road tyres and on road handling ability.
I have taken it offroad on what I would consider a moderate incline with a loose rocky surface and the all wheel drive system handled it without too much fuss. That said, it still doesn’t have the ground clearance, underbody protection or ability to be a proper 4WD alternative, so you won’t be able to tear up rutted out fire-trails with it. That said, it holds its own loose gravel and sand giving you the option to be able to explore further afield.
Sure all the usual contenders offer a mid-size SUV option at that $50k price point but what you’ll find is that they are all just progressive improvements to the rest of the line-up. Whereas the Toyota RAV4 Edge is completely its own thing in the range.
Both Honda’s CR-V VTi-LX AWD and Hyundai’s Tucson Highlander are in the ballpark terms of price and comparable on features, but style-wise they’re much more neutral. Both are scheduled for upgrades later this year.
Subaru just released upgraded version Forester, which I haven’t driven, but its top on the line hybrid model could be an alternative worth exploring.
Volkswagen’s offering, the Tiguan 162TSI Highline could also be an option, but once you consider the option packs to match the RAV4’s included features and the ongoing servicing and maintenance it becomes considerably more expensive.
The biggest competition for the Edge, however, might come from Toyota’s own stable. More specifically the Cruiser Hybrid AWD which is slightly cheaper, styled a little more conservatively, but without all the off-roading stuff.
I’ve always said that the Toyota RAV4 is car you buy to make sure you are going to get where you need to go. It’s practical, functional and comfortable, everything a Toyota claims to be.
The new version takes this even further by being packed full of extra features as standard and just generally being better to drive. As a result, a lot of Toyota RAV4’s have been sold recently and will continue to do so. So if you’d like to stand out in the crowd, the unique styling of the Edge might be just the ticket, especially if you want to showcase your adventurous side.
But then again, you might just be impatient like me and not willing to wait months for the next available RAV4 Hybrid stock to arrive in Australia.