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I know we got so many RAV4 reviews on the site, but I personally always like to read them, so here is one from me.

I had the chance to take an 30 min drive in new RAV4 D4D Executive 136hp with Navi. Executive is top equipment with everything - leather, NAVI, bluetooth, back camera, auto wipers, auto dimming mirror, everything.

I like how new Rav4 has grown in size but at the same time, it is still pretty small and easy to drive around the town. I walked out of Land Cruiser (Lexus GX in US) and Rav4 looked tiny.


Exterior

Exterior still has to grow on me, it was pretty dark and hard to make any conclusions. It definetly looks like Rav4, and it definetly looks better in real life than on pics. 4.2 looked awesome when done properly - running boards, tinted out back windows, rear chrome light protectors, etc, and 4.3 without any of those is definetly a bit plainer. I will kit out mine when it comes - our European accessories list is quite long.


Interior

Interior is completly a w e s o m e. Yes, there is hard plastics on the dashboard, but it felt nice. Everything looks really nicely done. Perforated leather is very smooth and very nice to touch. Leather sides of the doors are nicely padded (more so than on LC). Overall, leather looks and feels much better than in previous Rav4. Steering wheel is nicely padded and fat. Its nice to grip and use. Optitron lights in instrument panel are looking good. Center dash looks pretty damn nice, I really liked it - it was interesting, different and looked quality.

Model I tested had navigation - it is 6th gen navi, same as in new Lexus IS, with very nice graphics and 3d icons everywhere. It looked awesome. I was a bit worried about Euro stereo, since it isnt JBL system, but it actually sounded pretty nice, didnt have any complaints about it.

I found it interesting how the colored plastic (metal looking) around dash felt - as if someone applied it with brush (you could feel the application). First time I saw that and it was pretty nice. Trunk is a lot better too. That glovebox and its push button open/close is smooth.

Only complaint I had was driving position. Seats were a bit high, as expected. However, it seemed to me that instruments are a bit too low, as was steering wheel (at its upmost position). I did come out of Land Cruiser which might have been the issue. I remember that in 4.2 it was a lot worse too. Its one thing I will have to re-visit after few weeks of driving it.


Driving Impressions

Start it up and yep, it is an diesel. You can hear it rumble - not as much as in 4.2, so it is improved. 1st gear is strictly 1st gear, you have to shift into 2nd right away. And then you goooo. New 2.2d4d series is first full aluminium diesel engine in the class. Benefit is that it loves to rev. Except for the sound, up to 4.5k rpm, you wouldnt know it is an diesel at all, it revs fast. Turbo is not as pronaunced as before, so you dont get as big kick in the back, even though car is quicker. Before you could feel the turbo between 2k and 3k, and then it would quickly die off. Here it didnt feel as diesel at all, it just runs from down below until some 4.5k-5k when it died off. Its quick although not crazy quick (a lot faster than before). 180hp version should have bigger turbo and bigger kick, but also an turbo hole before and after that.

Ride is firm, not too harsh. It is definetly sportier than what I thought it would be - it drives as an smaller sports car, not an SUV -RAV4 was always considered sportiest small SUV, new one is a lot more so.

Very slight body roll at 90mph gentle curve, where old Rav4 would bounce up and down. Over the bumps it doesnt get unsettled as before, a bit firm again but not too much to handle. I like it.


Overall

I like it. Biggest suprise is interior - it feels as luxury car, where old one was quirky and ok. By far the best interior in its class. Exterior needs some modifications, we will see what happens - My black will get some tints, aluminium side steps, front grille garnish from X model, side mouldings from X model, silver roof rails and front and back parking sensors. For now. I liked the engine, but I will need to spend some time in it to decide how much. Quite noiser than my Prius, then again everything is quite noiser than my Prius :). It was a lot smoother than our Land Cruiser, but again, many cars are less noiser than Land Cruiser :).

I will post an update an pics when I get mine next week!
 
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