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BY JONATHAN CROUCH
Added 8th April, 2016
Though opinion may be divided as to whether the RAV4 invented the soft roading segment, no one doubts that, more than any other, this model defined it. In some ways, it continued to do just that in this early MK4 guise, for this car still sums up most of what a model of this kind should be all about. Smart, wieldy, reasonably spacious, affordable to run and with just enough SUV-ness about it to get you to the places you tend to dream about but will probably never go.
This fourth generation version brought notable changes - extra space and technology, lower running costs and a more dynamic drive - timely improvements, even if there are still other rivals that better it either on or off road. Few though, provide a stronger compromise between the two and none can better the unimpeachable build quality and strong residuals that have become a RAV4 trademark.
Those aren't very SUV-like virtues, but then, neither were limpet-like roadholding and family car standards of ride and refinement before the original MK1 model first hit the scene. This Toyota's approach may have matured over the years along with sharper looks and stronger, more efficient engines, but its buying proposition still makes family-friendly, real world sense.
The Verso has always been a car you bought because it made sense. This one though, does a bit more than that. Its compact seven-seat family layout still ruthlessly ticks almost every practical box. And it remains a solidly appealing take-it-as-you-find-it, get-the-job-done kind of vehicle that's thoroughly user-friendly, especially with its easy-to-operate seating system. As before, you'll find that almost nothing will go wrong and that everything will feel just right.
All that we've known since the third generation version of this Toyota was launched in 2009. The difference with this facelifted MK3 model though was that this recipe came with the injection of a little extra luxury and a lot of extra personality. True, those aren't the attributes that will have first prompted you to buy a People Carrier but in a closely-fought market where every contender seems similarly specced, they're the things that can make the difference. And they created in this car a quieter, smarter, more efficient, more comfortable and just plain better Verso.
Overall, there are few more practical, more reliable or better built choices from this era in this segment. So with this MPV, you can make a head choice with a bit of heart too.
The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is the estate version of Toyota's practical family hatchback. Jonathan Crouch checks it out.
This post-2016-series RAV4 grew up, matured and become more sensible. And what could be more sensible than the installation of a hybrid engine under the bonnet? This car represents a way to more affordably buy into mid-sized SUV motoring from a Crossover from the 2016-2018 period, the petrol/electric formula offering extra refinement, cheaper fuel and lower taxation levels.
Perhaps then this is, as Toyota assures us, 'a better way' of owning a model of this kind - you decide. One thing's for certain: for many, this car's buying proposition will make family-friendly, real world sense.
Toyota's fifth generation RAV4 has become quite the polished item. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
The Toyota Camry shares much of its engineering with its Lexus ES cousin but, as Jonathan Crouch discovers, this spacious medium-sized saloon is also very much its own car.
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