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We bought a new 2.0GX 5 door in 2001. We were immediately bowled over, and remained so for the 2 years that we had it. Firstly, it looks fantastic, chunky and rugged and very trendy-ours was black and we were always getting admiring glances and comments.
More importantly, it handled like a dream. Being in permanent 4 wheel drive, it holds the road like glue. It is extremely stable even on sharp bends and great at taking off from a standing start at dodgy junctions where you need to get out fast. The engine is second to none. It cruises well at high speed, and allows you to safely overtake when you wouldn't normally contemplate it-it's just so powerful and so reliable.
Inside the cab it is well designed. Good stereo, great drinks holders and neat CD storage. The legroom generally leaves a bit to be desired, both front and rear. The rear seat is limited on space widthways too. We had a child seat at one side, and it was too cramped with 2 adults in the back as well. The seats were comfortable and the upholstery looked great. The carpet was of excellent quality, and even when it got really dirty, it hoovered off without much effort and looked new again. Toyota seat covers are an excellent buy. Costly at over £200 but so well fitted that no one knew they were covers.
Boot space is good. Plenty of room for a family of 3 with travel cot, baby buggy and a weeks worth of luggage.
We didn't even mind getting it serviced. The cost was quite cheap and the customer service faultless. It puts Ford's service to shame-our second car is a Ford!
In the two years we owned it, all we spent on it was about £85 for a spare tyre-not due to wear and tear, but a rusty nail!
In summary we would say buy this vehicle. You may gather from this we have now sold ours. We have bought a Honda CRV for one reason alone-the rear legroom. The Honda is fine, but our hearts lie with the Rav still, and I feel sure that when our child has moved on to a booster seat we will go back to the Rav. We are hoping that in another 2 years they will bring out a model with slightly more legroom and a tailgate that opens to 90 degrees. If so, we won't hesitate to buy another one. Incidentally-they hold their value. We got £14,000 for ours against the Honda at 2 years old and with 22,000 on the clock. You really can't go wrong.