The Rav 4 is a very well built car. The quality of paint, fittings and mechanical components are excellent.
I use the Rav for city commuting, which it does competently. The high seating position is very advantageous in traffic, and as it is basically the same size as a family wagon, there are few parking problems. The only down-side here is that visibility is limited: it is impossible to see the front of the car, and the high-mounted spare wheel restricts rear vision considerably.
The car is also used to drive on gravel and dirt tracks to access climbing areas. The constant four-wheel drive and great ground clearance really come into their own in this environment, and it is a superb lightweight bush vehicle.
The vehicle's styling is holding up well, with its big alloy wheels and flowing lines still looking good five years later.
There is plenty of room in the back, but child-restraint anchors are mounted at the rear of the load area, eating into boot space annoyingly.
There are two dink holders, but they are placed in bizarre spots. A shallow storage depression on the passenger's side is entirely useless.
Safety features are non-existent: no air bags or ABS.
The air conditioning unit is only just up to the job of cooling the interior on hot Australian days.
The stock sound system was a feeble Toyota tape deck. Although rated at 25 watts, the front speakers were only rated at 10 Watts and the rear ones at 20. These were replaced with a vastly superior after-market one, something I recommend!
The 2 litre engine moves the car along reasonably well, but the car could really use more power. With passengers and gear on board, it feels slow, and has to be thrashed to get going at a fair speed. The motor has little torque, and really needs to be revved. A recent drive in a 2.5 litre X-Trail really brought this fact home!
For the price, the older-style Rav is a sound buy. It does everything quite well, and though not exactly a keen driver's machine, it is reliable and has character.
The Rav is serviced in accordance with the 10 000 km schedule and goes as good as ever. I expect to see 400 000 from it!