In which Neil Davey takes Toyota’s RAV4 Dynamic AWD for several spins around the countryside

Blimey. They’ve only gone and let me review another vehicle. Even after the last time and my full admission on my lack of knowledge, they’ve let me have the keys to another vehicle. And no, I still don’t know what “torque” is.

But, even so, here I am – or rather “there I was” – behind the wheel of a new Rav4 Dynamic AWD, in a shiny shade called White Pearl. And a lot of fun was had. Once again, it was partly for editorial coverage, partly a “two birds, one stone” thing where I could go off and explore Herefordshire for a week for another magazine, and my wife could still have access to our previously mentioned 12-year old Auris. And it was also partly because before the Auris, we had a Rav4 for years – one of those old rollerskate-esque Rav4s in that particular shade of red that used to go tinny and pink – and I thought it would be interesting to see how things have evolved.

And, well, they’re REALLY evolved, You’d expect certain basic improvements, of course – not least the fuel consumption, which by the end was more gallons-per-mile than vice versa – but the new generation of RAVs is, clearly, a very different beast indeed. Fuel consumption, by the way, is terrific: official figures suggest somewhere in the high 40s per gallon and the reality doesn’t seem far off that, particularly if you can keep the speed down to under 20mph and exploit the electric bit of the engine. While that’s undoubtedly easier on North London streets than Herefordshire A roads, the RAV still felt economical.

So, yes, the electrical bit (see my mastery of these technical motoring terms?). This particular RAV is available in two versions, a plug-in version and a more standard hybrid. I had the latter, which means you get a little report at the end of each drive telling you how you drove, how much you charged the battery, how smooth and economic you’ve been. It probably says more about me than the car (not least my background in video game reviews) that I found myself constantly trying to improve my score and swearing, quite creatively at times, at the occasional idiot that disrupted the smoothness or speed of my journey.

According to some car reviewers – and they’ve driven more than two cars this year, unlike yours truly, so you should probably trust them – the new generation RAV4 are a little lacking in the gearbox department,  and the engine can be noisy. Personally, I just found it a huge amount of fun to drive. It feels safe, secure, hugs the roads and the boot swallows luggage (and, indeed, cases of cider, this being a food tour of Herefordshire, after all). Again, much of the infotainment system is neatly instinctive and even this luddite successfully paired a phone without specific instructions, negotiated the various (very) big screen map options that provided and managed to play a Spotify playlist or two. It’s a fairly handsome beast too and a very comfortable drive.

In short, I enjoyed the Lexus enormously and, oddly, it was slightly harder to give the keys back on this one. There’s a practicality and personality to this new(ish) generation of RAV that makes it very easy to like.

♦ Max speed: 112 mph

Performance, 0 to 62: 8.4 seconds

Combined fuel economy (WLTP): 47.9 to 48.7

Price: £42, 345 on the road (White Pearl bi-tone metallic paint an additional £965, JBL Stereo with Panoramic View Monitor an additional £785)