AA Driven Car of the Year People's Choice winner: the best Toyota RAV4 yet
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You never quite know what you're likely to get when you hand the task of Car of the Year voting to the public. But, I think it's fair to say that this year's AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year People's Choice winner — as voted on by you — is a thoroughly deserving one.
Out of our varied list of 10 finalists, it was the eternal trusty Toyota RAV4 that took home the prize with the Mazda3 and Tesla Model 3 finishing second and third. And, it didn't just win People's Choice, either — the RAV4 also claimed the AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year Medium SUV class win, pipping the Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forester.
As the best-selling car among the top 10 it was a result that made sense, but there's much more to the all-new RAV4's success than just numbers.
Following in the footsteps of similar transformations to the Camry and Corolla, the new RAV4 sets a fresh internal benchmark for interior quality, wanton space, distinctively rugged looks, and comfort. Perhaps best of all, though, is the fact that its 163kW/221Nm hybrid powertrain is offered at just $41,990. The wait to get one seeps well into next year, but for good reason.
“Far from being a mere rental company favourite, it's a vehicle that now deserves to find its way into the garages of plenty of private buyers, too,” we wrote in our initial review of the RAV4 Hybrid Limited.
“It's at the point where its comprehensive approach to SUV-dom might see it steal sales from its big 7-seat brother, the Highlander. What started out as a simple, jelly-bean looking 1990s oddity before evolving into a stock choice in a competitive segment has now become a genuinely likable, handsome, versatile entry worthy of its enviable popularity. And, with a sharply priced hybrid now in the line-up too alongside this Limited model, expect that popularity to reach new heights.”
We noted our preference of the hybrid to the petrol in our road test of the top-trim petrol RAV4 Adventure. But noted that its price helped swing the ledger in the RAV4's favour. “Given that the RAV4 is still cheaper than almost all mainstream rivals, it’s still not a deal breaker. It’s a spacious, handsome, well bolted together SUV with a few off-roading tricks lurking up its sleeve,” we said.
The Toyota RAV4 has always been a solid, dependable choice for those after a medium SUV. But now with this new model it's free of fundamental flaws, packaged exceptionally well particularly in regards to room in the back, and priced as sharp as a tack.
And, those wanting practical guilt-free motoring need no longer worry, too. It's a fantastic SUV.
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