What if you wanted the high driving position and the ability to drive on more than asphalt but you didn’t want or need all that heavy 4×4 stuff and the horrid fuel consumption? Toyota were the first to answer that question with the crossover RAV4. That was more than 20 years ago, and the RAV 4 is still going. In fact it’s been updated.

Ironically, the update takes things that bit further. What if you wanted a lightweight not very serious 4×4 but then started getting concerned about even that vehicle’s fuel consumption and the minor compromises in handling caused by the ride height? Then you make what looks like a 4×4 but it doesn’t even have four-wheel drive.

Toyota are hardly the first to arrive at this further move away from off-road, but it’s a minor surprise to realise that this latest RAV4 can’t be had with four-wheel drive with the 2.0-litre turbodiesel we tested.

There’s also the one diesel unit, so there is no choice as there was between a 2.0-litre and a 2.2-litre unit. Actually this is progress as the old engines weren’t that tremendous and the new one works better. And of course use less fuel while emitting less CO2, in fact the figure you want is 60.1mpg although in the real world we bettered a creditable 45mpg.

It pulls cleanly from low revs and churns along happily. It will work harder but once you’re past 3000rpm there is a noticeable increase in engine and wind noise. It’s never overwhelming but it is noticeable.

Things improve at speed with the engine settling down nicely and the same applies to the handling. At low speeds it can seem a bit stiff, but then it’s trying to keep that high-set body from rolling, which it does well. At higher speeds it all works better and smoother. This is a pretty fair mile-muncher.

Inside there’s plenty of space and kit, and it’s well put together if not the most luxurious of cabins. There’s decent room for adults, and a good 547 litres of cargo space in the rear and there’s flexible space up to 1735 litres if you fold the seats down.

Overall Toyota have improved the RAV4. It’s a better vehicle than it was in most regards. However, we’re not totally bowled over by what it offers and, for a superior driving experience, that will probably prove more economical to own, we might go for the Mazda CX-5.