The just-launched Toyota RAV4 marks a return of the nameplate to Malaysian shores after a 12-year absence, giving UMW Toyota Motor a car-based family SUV to sell again. Unlike most of the local lineup, the RAV4 comes straight from Japan and comes packed with the latest technologies and powertrains.

Its fully-imported status and the disadvantageous exchange rate between the ringgit and yen also incurs a significant price premium over its locally-assembled rivals, the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5. Both variants are priced beyond the RM200,000 mark – the 2.0 litre model retails at RM203,880, while the 2.5 litre encroaches into premium car territory at RM223,880.

With the government’s 50% sales and service tax (SST) for CBU vehicles, the prices drop to RM196,436 and RM215,664 respectively, both on-the-road without insurance. Yes, they still cost a pretty penny, but they’re both fully kitted in terms of equipment.

Indeed, the specs are straight up identical between the two and include LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, push-button start, dual-zone climate control, auto lights and wipers, a power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory, leather upholstery, a seven-inch speedometer display, a 360-degree camera system and a hands-free powered tailgate.

The RAV4 is also one of the few Toyota models in Malaysia to come with an OEM infotainment system, rather than an aftermarket head unit. It features a seven-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, along with six speakers. A Qi wireless smartphone charger is also fitted.

Safety-wise, both variants receive the full Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of driver assistance features, which include autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane centring assist, blind spot monitoring and automatic high beam. Under the skin, the RAV4 rides on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), which boasts a lower centre of gravity and increased rigidity, all claimed to improve ride and handling.

Power comes from new Dynamic Force engines with D-4S direct and port injection and VVT-iE. The 2.0 litre version makes 173 PS and 207 Nm of torque and is paired to a Direct Shift CVT with a startup first gear. The car you see here is the 2.5 litre model that churns out 207 PS and 243 Nm and is paired to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Both transmissions get a manual shifting mode with paddle shifters.

We were given a brief test drive of the new RAV4 yesterday, and now you can get our thoughts on how this car feels and handles. Are the plentiful features, the feel-good “made in Japan” label and the benefits of the TNGA platform and engines enough to offset the high prices? You’ll just have to watch to find out.