Nigel Fryatt – contributor

rav4While buying a new 4×4 is fun, it is also undoubtedly frustrating and, at times, stressful. Why do some traders insist on writing ‘immaculate’ in their advertisements when even the most cursory inspection shows the vehicle to have been used and seriously abused? Why, after phoning up to check, do you find out when you arrive to view a vehicle that, ‘there’s a small problem with the air flow sensor so you can’t go for a drive, I’m afraid. The mechanic should have changed it this morning but he’s a DJ and last night he had all his gear nicked so he’s not come in…’ Would you buy a 4×4 from some absentminded DJ who can’t even be bothered to come to work? No, neither would we.

Then there’s the ‘genuine 83,000 mileage’ which when you check the odometer has suddenly jumped forward to 110,000 miles… Apparently, it’s just a small mistake on the advert, which will be changed, ‘but it’s a lovely car, look at the colour’. Once again, we made our excuses and left.

Finally, however, we found a RAV4 that matched the advert; it was indeed immaculate and when we asked about a test drive, we were just handed the keys and told to ‘take as long as you want’. It’s all probably some very sophisticated reverse psychology to weaken our natural secondhand-car-salesman- phobia, but in this case it worked, and BV02 FVA is now a fully paid-up member of the family. Naturally before buying, we had checked 4×4 Magazine’s Buyers’ Guide (April 2008) written by Bob Cooke – so if it goes wrong Bob, you know whose fault it will be!). We had driven it, inspected it and checked everything we could. Will it prove to be a good purchase? Well, only time, and a few rather difficult winters like the last one, will really tell us the answer to that.

Why buy a Toyota RAV4? Well, this vehicle will be driven a great deal by my partner, 4×4 Magazine’s Sue Loy, and she has ‘always liked them’. Job done then…

Well, not quite, there was a little more thought behind the purchase. Sue and I have been lucky enough to drive a good many 4x4s over a good many years (!) which is a big plus when it comes to spending your own money.

Personally, I could perhaps see myself with a Range Rover, or a VW Touareg with that excellent V10 engine, or even a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, how could you not want 500+bhp…? But back in the real world of mortgages, running costs and national debt crises, you obviously start with a budget of what you can afford. Once you have done that, you consider performance (on and off-road), reliability, running costs, looks, specifi cations and availability, and while the RAV4 might not top all of those categories for our agreed budget, it rates pretty high across the board, which, in itself, is a major plus point.

Looks are, of course, subjective and I, for one, looked hard to fi nd a RAV4 that wasn’t silver! Nevertheless, when we saw BV02 FVA it did look particularly good and had obviously been well looked after and had not been a ‘family car’ – so the interior was not messed up by sticky fi ngers, muddy boots, dog hair and the usual liberal covering of scuffs and scrapes. It has the model designation ‘NV’, which would appear to mean that you don’t get alloy wheels, a CD player or leather seats. None of those things matter to us, and are almost a benefi t as we intend to have a set of winter tyres for later in the season – which we will put on the steel wheels. This then means we can get a set of alloys for the rest of the year, on road tyres. Perhaps we could even get some matt black wheels just to make ‘our’ RAV4 stand out from the crowd.

One ‘odd’ inclusion on the ‘NV’ spec list, however, are aluminium sidesteps. Hardly conducive to the serious off-roader perhaps, but then I suspect that if we start to get worried about this vehicle’s ultimate ramp breakover angles, then things will undoubtedly have gone somewhat pear-shaped. In truth, we’d probably be stuck, with or without sidesteps! This vehicle will have a full 4×4 life, and it’s going to take us to some interesting places and on some interesting adventures, and poseur aluminium sidesteps aren’t going to restrict that. Indeed, its most significant 4×4 ability will be tested in a few months if we get another one of those ‘ice age’ winters again this year – hence the intention to try out a set of snow and ice tyres.

So, after many years of driving other people’s 4x4s, both in the UK and in some of the world’s most exotic locations, we have put hand deep in pocket, stumped up our own cash and purchased a Toyota RAV4. Let the adventures begin!


Model: Toyota RAV4

Spec: NV VVTi

Mileage: 86,760

Recent costs: Purchase price and one year’s insurance!

Arrived: June ‘10



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