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Room to Grow: Toyota's Rav-4 vs Verso

Are you more SUV or MPV? Are five seats ample, or might you need seven? Do you prefer faster, sportier cars; or fuel-efficient models with more space? Answering these questions could go a long way in helping you decide whether you prefer the Toyota RAV4 or Toyota Verso. Here, we’ll run you through which model might be better suited.

Sporty vs sensible

The Toyota RAV4 has been around for a whopping 25 years, and the styling has come a long way since the mid-1990s original. It’s never been a big, weighty 4x4, and the latest model looks stylishly sleek while still feeling substantial.  The most recent facelift worked wonders for the front end of the car, getting rid of the two grilles either side of the badge and introducing more streamlined headlights. 

The Verso had its own facelift in 2013, with Toyota’s ‘Keen Look’ design language improving the overall presentation of the car. The front-end also saw huge improvement here, with the old grille and headlights replaced by a much smarter package that includes LED headlamps. It’s still an MPV though, and doesn’t have quite the same curb appeal as the RAV4. 

Conclusion: the RAV4’s sportier design gives it the opening round over the more sensibly-styled Verso

Style goes up against space

The Verso really shines as you step inside the cabin, although the emphasis is still on function rather than form. Trim levels start at Active and move up to Icon, Trend and Excel, and you can upgrade the Toyota Touch multimedia touchscreen control system on the Icon and Excel models to include Touch & Go with its satellite navigation. Features like that make things feel a little more upmarket, and it’s the same story with the panoramic sunroof, while the 'Trend Plus' trim gives you a DVD entertainment system in the back to keep the kids happy on long journeys. 

With the RAV4, the entry-level Icon features a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, as well as bluetooth, DAB radio, reversing camera, smart entry, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, powered tailgate and rain-sensing wipers. Sat nav comes as standard with every trim apart from Icon, while the rest of the interior feels sturdy and well built. Most models feature synthetic leather panels across the dash, which helps to make the interior feel pretty plush. 

You only get five seats in the back of the RAV4 though, compared to seven in the Verso. The RAV4’s 500-plus litres of luggage capacity borders on cavernous, but if you don’t need all seven seats in the Verso, you can fold down the two at the rear to create a bigger load space. Doing that increases your luggage capacity from 330 to 880 litres, while you can get 1,575 litres by folding all of the back seats down. 

Conclusion: the RAV4 feels a little classier once you’re inside, but the issue of five or seven seats might be your deal-breaker

All hail hybrid engines

Toyota are right at the forefront of hybrid technology, offering greener power units on models that used to have a bad reputation for being gas guzzlers. The car manufacturer vowed to stop selling diesel cars in 2018, leaving you with a choice to make between petrol or hybrid petrol engines. 

The first option on the RAV4 is a 2.0-litre petrol motor, which produces 152hp. It does 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds, and can reach speeds of 114mph. The fuel economy is a respectable 43.5mpg combined, while CO2 emissions come in at 152g/km. If you’re not ready to take the leap to hybrid power, this is the engine for you. 
Whether you’ve driven hybrid before or not, the 2.5-litre hybrid petrol engine is available in front or all-wheel drive, and serves up an impressive 197hp. That can power you along to 112mph - when it’s legal to do so, of course - while the 0-62mph reading stands at 8.4 seconds. As well as brisk acceleration, you also get 56.4mpg and 116g/km on the emissions front.
There isn’t a hybrid Verso available, so it’s petrol only from 2018 onwards. Before that there was a 1.6-litre diesel engine which offered 62.8mpg, 119g/km in emissions, and did 0-62mph in a leisurely 12.7 seconds. 
The 1.6-litre petrol comes with a 6-speed manual gearbox, and gives you 42.8mpg in fuel economy. With emissions of 154g/km, the smaller petrol engine produces 132hp and does 0-62mph in 11.7 seconds. 
If you’d prefer a bit more zip underneath you, the 1.8-litre petrol has an extra 12hp and goes from 0-62mph in 11.1 seconds. You can get the same fuel economy out of it, while the emissions are about the same too. 

Conclusion: say goodbye to diesel, and look at those figures produced by the RAV4’s hybrid power unit - that give it the edge here

In numbers…



Toyota RAV4

Toyota Verso





Power (HP)





Fuel (comb MPG)





Emissions (CO2, g/km)





Top Speed (mph)





0 – 60mph in…. (seconds)










Both of these cars are going to give you plenty of space, sitting mid-range when it comes to size and price for SUVs and MPVs. The Toyota RAV4 has a squatter, sportier profile with its 4x4 design, while the Toyota Verso is instantly recognisable as a family-friendly people carrier. Think about whether the extra two seats are important to you, and come down to your local Inchcape Toyota to take a look and go for a test drive.