Toyota’s five-seat self-charging hybrid RAV4 really makes sense as politicians hammer diesel owners

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TOYOTA pioneered hybrid/electric motoring long before it became fashionable with every other car firm.

It led the way with the Prius, back in 1997, and now every model above the dinky Aygo has a hybrid version.

Gerard McGovern

Road tax is just £140 a year for a five-seat family SUV which is powered by a 2.5-litre petrol/electric hybrid but emits just 103g/km CO2[/caption]

After a week testing the latest RAV4, it’s easy to see why self-charging hybrids make increasing sense as politicians continue to hammer diesel.

Road tax is just £140 a year for a five-seat family SUV which is powered by a 2.5-litre petrol/electric hybrid but emits just 103g/km CO2.

But the real bonus is that I averaged 53mpg over 600 miles.

It’s easy to forget that the original RAV4, back in 1994, actually started the compact SUV trend – another example of Toyota leading the way – and 200,000 UK sales confirm it has been an ongoing  success story.

The driving experience is considerably more forgettable, either decidedly dull and uninspiring or totally relaxing, depending on your own style

KEY FACTS: TOYOTA RAV 4

Price: £26,704

Engine: 2.5-litre petrol hybrid

Economy: 53mpg

0-62mph: 8.4 secs

Top speed: 112mph

CO2: 103g/km

Unlike some of Toyota’s bland-looking models of the last decade, the RAV4 has always been one of the more distinctive SUVs, and this latest version continues that.

The driving experience is considerably more forgettable, either decidedly dull and uninspiring or totally relaxing, depending on your own style.

It’s an auto box that can switch to manual with a sports mode, but it’s not very sporty at all.

On a no-rush trip to Cornwall down a sticky M5 then across country roads it was ideal, especially with the excellent fuel economy, and it cruised silently at motorway speeds and in EV mode  around town.

But any hard acceleration delivers a depressing whining engine sound that quickly gets you to ease off the accelerator.

Unlike some of Toyota’s bland-looking models of the last decade, the RAV4 has always been one of the more distinctive SUVs, and this latest version continues that

That said, the RAV4 handles well enough and is comfortable thanks to  supportive leather seats.

It’s big on practicality and comes with all-wheel drive, together with all the equipment and gadgets you need.

The RAV4 is a bit like a trusted friend you can rely on totally. So, if you can, do without motoring excitement. It makes a lot of sense.

ASK ALFIE: USED CAR SPECIALIST Q&A

Q) I WAS wondering how much I could get for a 1991 Honda Civic GL, 1.4, with 103,000 miles on the clock. It’s rust-free and in good condition overall.

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A) This is one of those cars that are really hard to value these days.

On the one hand it’s a near 30-year-old runabout and you’d think its worth would be negligible. But on the other, it sounds like a lovely surviving example of a long-serving model.

It  would provide an interesting alternative to the normal Ford/Vauxhall   models  people might be seeking out second-hand.

I reckon you might be able to get £1,250 to £1,500 notes for it. But you need the “right” type of buyer for that money.

Q) IS a Lexus IS 220d a good used buy?

Eric, Hampshire

A) Yes, Eric, although a  diesel-powered Lexus is a rare old thing. It was always a smooth and  efficient operator. Try to bag a 2010MY-on car, which had improvements to trim its CO2 emissions  from 163g/km to 148g/km. That’s enough, under old VED laws, to save you 40 quid a year on tax.

Q)  CAN you tell me how much my 2013 Mercedes E300 Bluetec hybrid would be worth on a trade-in? It has done about 68,000 miles. Cheers.

 Max, Peterborough

A) Tidy motor, Maxie boy, and I reckon its approximate market value would be around the £12.5k mark.

Reckon on a dealer  giving you something like nine large for it, then,  on a part-ex trade, provided it’s spotless and fully ticketed up in the service-history department.

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