Episode 225. Toyota Rav4. P742 HJN. (Part 4).

 It's safe to say that this little Toyota has got under my skin a little bit, and once again I find myself at the end of the month, and not wanting to let the car go that I had bought for the month. I thought about trying to convince Mrs Clint that the way forward was that she should have this little car. I know she likes it, but she's liked several of the other cars that I've had this year, and I'd hoped she would have, but when the time came, she didn't want them and so off they went to their new homes with their new owners.

So despite me really wanting to keep hold of it for a while longer I felt that there was really no point in once again trying to convince her worshipfulness that she needed this little Rav4 in her life. It really has been a brillant and fun little car to own for the month, but as the end of the month approached I found myself out on the street, taking photographs of the Rav4 ready for its auction listing on fleabay.

And so away it goes... Ha ha, yeah right, if only it was so simple. There it goes alright, off to Tesco with my Dad at the wheel. So how come I still have it? Well, to put it simply while I was outside taking the photos to use in the ad on fleabay Mrs Clint came out and said, "I don't know what you're doing that for, that thing's going nowhere!" It would seem that she had decided that a 1996 Toyota Rav4 is the car for her, and to be honest I kind of agree with her. So instead of trying to sell it, and obviously losing yet more money I figured that she might as well have it as she likes it so much. I'm not sure if this is a win for me or not, but I'm pretty glad it's staying if I'm honest.

The RAV4 has been described as the offspring of a Toyota Landcruiser and a Ford Fiesta XR2, and this pretty much sums it up. It drives a little bit like a hot hatch, and it looks a little bit like an off-roader. But what else can I say about my month of Rav4 ownership? Well I covered 1311 miles in it, and quite enjoyed every minute of it, it's a fun little car to drive! These enjoyable miles cost me £230 in fuel, and that equates to 201.12 foreign litres or 44.24 UK Gallons! This works out to be about 29.60 mpg, which isn't great, but it has been stood with its engine running for quite a lot of the time while I've been driving it about as I seem to have spent an awful lot of time in traffic this month. Plus, and I have to say it, Mrs Clint has been driving it a fair bit, and her feet are much heavier than mine! Anyway, moving on before her worshipfulness reads that!

 Under the bonnet, just one engine choice, a 2.0 litre petrol straight-four producing 120 horsey power straight from the Toyota Carina, Corolla, and no doubt other 2.0 litre Toyotas. This whirrs away quietly, and effortlessly, and produces enough power to almost convince yourself that you're actually the pilot of a little hot hatch, and not a little 4x4. 
 
Out on the road the RAV4 is quite happy, with safe, predictable, car-like handling which is no doubt helped by it having the five-speed, four wheel drive powertrain from the Toyota Celica. It also comes with a switch on the dash to control the lock for the center differential should you get stuck in some deep leaves at the side of the road. It feels quite stable even at motorway speeds, and off-road it is very capable for what it is. That is to say that it's not exactly outstanding, but then it's never going to be if you were to compare with something like a Land Rover, or something with a more agricultural back ground. Because lets face it, it's a soft-roader, and therefore designed to spend most of its life pottering around the leafy suburbs, and therefore not having a low ratio gearbox limits its abilities off road, but then for 99% of these little cars, off road means parking on the pavement! The ride, like many soft-roaders of this age is slightly bouncy, if not occasionally a bit jarring, but oddly this adds to the charm of the thing.

As I've said before, inside the cockpit is a surprisingly comfortable place to be, the seating position is comfortable, and being up higher than most other cars it gives you a good view of the road ahead, unless of course you're on the school run, as all the Mums around here seem to have bigger and higher 4x4's than the little Rav4, it does get a little bit leafy on the streets around here in Autumn, so they need those big 4x4's after all.
 

 However the front seats are quite comfortable even on long journeys. Last weekend I had quite a lot of errands to do, and things to pick up which meant that I was effectively in the Rav for the whole day. I never felt uncomfortable in the seats even after driving for over six hours.
 
 The dashboard is nicely laid out, if a little basic, however I do like the blue dials. I'm not sure what kind of woman I've turned into lately, but obviously since I've been driving this I have started to pick up on little details like blue dials! One thing that I didn't like however was that the switch gear on the column was the wrong way around. I don't know why this was a problem, I have other cars with the switch gear the same way round as this little Rav4, and it poses no problem in them, but in this I just couldn't get my head round it, and never got used to having the indicator on the right and the wipers on the left. Other things of note however is that there is quite a cheap and utilitarian feel about the interior of the car, and no more so is it noticed than on the doors, specifically, as I've said numerous times before, the window winder switches!
 

In the back my two little Monsters said that they had plenty of room, and were very comfortable. However the thing that they liked the most was that they could recline their seats for once. This they felt was a great idea, however the bootspace is quite small, and when the seats are reclined it is even smaller. This has resulted in a very angry Mrs Clint on more than one occaision when we've returned home from shopping to find that the kids have reclined their seats breaking eggs, and squashing fruit in the process!
 
But without our two little Monsters in the back, and with the back seats folded up you have quite a lot of room, and the little Rav can be quite a handy little parts hauler should you need it to be. As you may know, I'm a bit of a wheel whore and a couple of weeks back I managed to get three sets of Rav4 wheels in there, which I felt was not too shabby if I do say so myself! Her worshipfulness is still complaining that it smells a bit like rubber in there despite my best efforts to clean it out, and a small selection of magic trees hanging from the interior mirror! 
 
All in all this was, and is a great little car, it's fun to drive, and to look at! It's pretty good on the road, it's not that bad off the road either. It's a great little car, infact its so great that in 1997 It was named the Automobile of the Year by Automobile Magazine, so it can't be all bad. 
 
The thing is though, if I'd have known that Mrs Clint wanted a Rav4 I would've spent some time looking for the best one I could find. Don't get me wrong, this one is pretty good, it's solid, and and drives well, but it's clearly been used, and has a few battle scars, broken bits of trim and so on. So a quick search of fleabay and I found most of the bits and bobs that needed to be replaced, however, once I'd taken into account postage etc, it was going to cost almost as much as the thing cost me in the first place, which was irritating!


 
Therefore, as the more Eagle-eyed of you lot may have spotted in this photograph the Rav4 has been joined by another one... The donor! I did consider that the donor would become car number 9, the September car, as although it is pretty similar, it is an automatic and not a manual transmission. My feeling was that I could do some sort of a comparrison, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt that this might be somewhat of a cop-out, and so, although I feel that it is worth mentioning, it won't be car number 9. More like car number 8... The bonus level. Stay tuned...

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