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L.A. Auto Show: Toyota's RAV4 gets 'emotional' makeover

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While unveiling the fourth-generation RAV4, Bill Fay, group vice-president of Toyota’s U.S. sales arm, said the original RAV4 was the “first crossover SUV”.

How soon they forget the American Motors Eagle.

The new RAV4 has sleeker styling – Fay called it “more emotional” – more room inside, and perhaps most important, a higher-quality interior, which the RAV sorely needed.

As before, RAV4 will be offered in front- and four-wheel drive models. The four by four gets something Toyota calls “Dynamic Torque Control”, whereby it operates generally in front-drive, and transfers power to the rear axle if conditions require, so you get traction when you need it, better fuel consumption the rest of the time.

Toyota says this system is a first for the company, but isn’t it pretty much what the Honda CR-V (among others) has had forever?

The system also has a “lock” mode; below 40 km/h, you can engage all four wheels for those really tough cottage roads or deep snow.

Two other departures for the new RAV4:

– the spare tire has been moved off the rear side-hinged door to under the floor, enabling a lift-up tailgate which is more convenient for most customers and most loads;

– no V6 option any more. This segment is fuel-economy-conscious, and those who want V6 power can move up to the Highlander, said Fay.

The RAV’s 2.5 litre four cylinder now produces 176 horsepower, which is actually three less than what Toyota Canada’s website says the current model has. But the extra two ratios in the six-speed automatic (over the previous model), and now with manual override shifting, Sport or ECO modes, actually improves both performance and fuel economy.

A higher level of equipment – SatNav is available on all but the base LE trim level and power tailgate on the range-topping Limited – keeps the RAV4 competitive.

Pricing won’t be released until closer to the January 2013 intro date, but given the competitive nature of this segment, it can’t be much different than the current model, which starts at $24,865.

As before, the new RAV4 will be built in Toyota’s Woodstock Ontario plant.

  • L.A. Auto Show: Toyota's RAV4 gets 'emotional' makeover

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