Cars Toyota RAV4 test drive_2020

Published on September 17th, 2020 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Toyota RAV4 Malaysian Test Drive Review

It is fully imported from Japan and this is why its selling price is a little high

So, since late 2019, the Malaysian automotive news community has been guessing on the arrival of the current generation Toyota RAV4. With local brand guardian, UMW Toyota hinting of its arrival months before, this was going to be another possible buy for the fast growing SUV segment in Malaysia.

Toyota RAV4_airbag
Toyota RAV4_dashboard
Toyota RAV4_center console
Toyota RAV4_gear shift
Toyota RAV4_cabin features
Toyota RAV4_infotainment screen

A segment that was started by the Honda CR-V in 1996 in Malaysia and it continued dominate the segment year after year model after model, the CR-V was the ‘darling’ of the segment until the 1st generation Nissan X-Trail arrived. Yes, somewhere along the way Naza Kia launched the first ever Sportage and soon after the first model Hyundai Tucson arrived. The Koreans did not do as well as the Japanese brands. UMW Toyota only brought in the very first generation RAV4 back in 1999 and in very limited numbers as it was fully imported and had a rather high asking price.

Then about 8 years ago Mazda entered the segment with their first generation CX-5 which immediately gave the CR-V a nasty prod. This was followed by the Subaru Forester. All this time, there was no new RAV4 introduced as this model had no assembly facility in ASEAN and with a full Japanese import, its selling price could not match the local assembled rivals mentioned above.

Toyota RAV4_lights
Toyota RAV4_door handle
Toyota RAV4_drivers space
Toyota RAV4_rear air-conditioning vents

As this SUV segment continued to grow and the opposing executive sedan segment started to decrease, UMW Toyota realized that Malaysian buyers were willing to put down money for imported vehicles and so the latest generation RAV4 was planned for launch.

COVID-19 and various factors delayed it launch and and in June 2020 the RAV4 arrived with a price tag of RM196,436 for the 2.0L and RM215,665 for the high specification 2.5L. Yes, it is priced above all its segment rivals and many Malaysians are not happy abut this. Fact, like we said earlier it is fully imported from Japan and there is NO local assembly for Malaysia at the moment. There is also no assembly in the ASEAN region for UMW Toyota to import this SUV in at a lower taxed price. So, for now, the RAV4 remains a high priced fully imported SUV like its popular sibling the Toyota Harrier 2.0 Turbo which sells from RM234,510. 

Powered by Toyota’s latest Dynamic Force engine range, comprising a 2.0-litre M20A-FKS naturally aspirated 4-cylinder DOHC engine making 173 PS and 207 Nm of torque, and the A25A-FKS naturally aspirated 4-cylinder DOHC engine kicking out 207 PS and 243 Nm of torque this was the segment’s highest priced options.

Toyota RAV4_digital meter cluster
Toyota RAV4_sound system
Toyota RAV4_rear luggage room


This All-New Toyota RAV4 comes with impressive Toyota Safety Sense features such as Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist, Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) for All Speed as well as Automatic High Beam (AHB). 

The new RAV4 also comes with Kick Sensor Power Back Door and other advanced and versatility features that makes it the best-in-class passenger-friendly SUV. 

Toyota RAV4_wireless phone charger
Toyota RAV4_drive selector
Toyota RAV4_multi-function steering wheel
Toyota RAV4_drivers seat memory


A TNGA concept-based 2.0-liter Dynamic Force Inline 4-cylinder direct-injection engine mated to a Direct Shift-CVT continuously variable transmission realizes powerful, smooth driving, as well as excellent fuel efficiency.

The new RAV4 realizes world-first 10 adoption11 of a newly developed four-wheel drive system, Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD. A torque vectoring mechanism independently distributes torque to the left and right rear wheels according to driving conditions in addition to the front and rear wheels. A disconnect mechanism transmits driving force to rear wheels when 4WD driving is deemed unnecessary, significantly reducing energy loss and improving fuel efficiency.

Toyota RAV4_rear seat legroom
Toyota RAV4_Dynamic Force Engine
Toyota RAV4_alloy wheels
Toyota RAV4_front seat comfort

Drive Impression

This well appointed SUV is no slouch from standstill where it feels relaxed to reach 100km/h in just 8.1 seconds. Power delivery is smooth and the 8-speed semi automatic gearbox swaps gears with no effort. It is seamless and smooth in its delivery and the engine never feels out of breath when you push past 200km/h on the open highway (this speed was tested on a deserted highway).  

We are able to use the term ‘well appointed’ because the cabin is very well put together and the finish feels upmarket. This is why you pay more for a Japan CBU vehicle.

Also, sound insulation is very good and traffic noise is heard as a slight whisper only. 

For a tall vehicle, this RAV4 does not fuss when you take a fast corner nor does it feel flustered when you exit a highway off-ramp at speeds. In fact, it feels as surefooted as its sporty sibling the Camry sedan. Of course, if you push the RAV4 hard, its height will be felt and you will need to ease back the throttle. 

As a family ‘cuti-cuti’ Malaysia vehicle it does the job very well for the family. The luggage area is a decent 580L with the second row in use and there is a sturdy retractable cover to keep things out of sight. Fold down those 60/40 seats in the second row and you open the space out to 1690L with an almost-flat load floor which means camping and cycling is easily possible.

For its asking price and the available safety features and comfort accessories, this fully imported RAV4 seems like a good choice as the family second car or even the first car for the daily commute. It does the job very well. 

Toyota RAV4_front electric seats

Final Word

Yes, the RM215k price might move you consider a German made SUV. But remember, this will be larger and definitely deliver very much less headache over the course of ownership with great after sales and easy availability of spare parts at their many dealers around Malaysia. Please note that its global demand has been very impressive with more than 10 million RAC4’s delivered since its introduction in 1994. 

Toyota RAV4_rear view
Toyota RAV4_side view
Toyota RAV4_drive

Toyota RAV4 2.5L Specification

Engine: 4-cylinder 16-valve, VVT-i

Capacity: 2487cc

Transmission: 8-Speed Shiftmatic, AWD

Max Power: 204hp @ 6600rpm

Max Torque: 243Nm @ 4000-5000rpm

0-100km/h: 8.1secs

Top Speed: 210km/h 

Price: RM215,664.00

Tax Free Langkawi Price: RM130,207.00

Toyota RAV4_rear moving shot
Toyota RAV4_moving shot

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