In recent years the Toyota brand has become somewhat of an automotive punching bag, with new products sometimes referred to as white goods on wheels.
It seemed the Japanese giant had been phoning it in, building cars that ticked boxes on paper, instead of offering genuine class-benchmark products.
Then along came the all-new Toyota RAV4, which is such a massive improvement over the previous iteration that it feels like a double-generational leap.
The TNGA platform that underpins the new RAV4 is longer, wider, and stronger than the one it replaces, making this latest generation significantly larger in almost every dimension.
The mid-size SUV segment is crowded, and ultra-competitive, but Toyota has moved the game forward by introducing genuine and useable hybrid tech – the customer demand for these models alone speaks volumes.
Safety features are spread throughout the range generously, while the steering is revolutionary compared with previous models.
The judges were impressed by the RAV4’s compliant ride, which is in part thanks to the more rigid body and redesigned suspension set-up.
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There are a wide range of variants in the model range, with spec and price levels that are competitive against key rivals.
What the Toyota RAV4 offers customers is great packaging, refined steering and ride quality, loads of safety kit, and game-changing electrification.
Our judging panel were so impressed with the improvements made to this generation RAV4 that they gave it a spot in our final five. Is it enough to win the big award though? Find out when Wheels Car of the Year 2020 is announced at the Australian Motoring Awards on January 30.