The original RAV4 (Recreational Active Vehicle 4-wheel drive) was launched back in 1994 and pioneered the compact SUV market, being conceived as an “urban” all-wheel drive vehicle with a monocoque chassis and independent suspension rather than an off-roader with body-on-frame construction.
The new RAV4 is longer (+205mm over SWB model without rear wheel carrier) and wider (+30mm) but lower (-25mm) than its predecessor, and features a progressive silhouette, with a sleek-sloping roofline and an aggressive character line.
According to Toyota, “the RAV4 pursues the design goals defined by Toyota President Akio Toyoda, with aggressively sculpted front and rear fenders and boldly proportioned taillights that define RAV4’s athletic presence.”
The new Toyota “face” includes a stronger treatment of the lower grille and a smaller upper grille extending the full width between the headlamp units. The new approach is also witnessed in the keen-edged design of the headlamps and detailing in the arrangement of the LED daytime running lights.
The lower grille forms a large trapezoidal opening in the front bumper; the bumper itself has a hard wearing finish which flows from its corners to surround the entire base of the vehicle, including the wheel arches. This provides a degree of off-road protection as well as further emphasizing the vehicle’s muscular posture.
In profile view, the new RAV4 maintains the space-efficient packaging, rising belt line and distinctive silhouette that have characterized the past generations of the model.
The belt-line has been made more pronounced, with blacked-out centre and rear pillars emphasizing the lengthened side glass area and increase in interior space. Below the belt-line the contrast between the convex body surfacing and the concave treatment of the prominent wheel arches and door sills adds further strength and dynamism to the side-on appearance.
The cabin tapers strongly to the rear, contrasting with the width of the lower body and creating muscular haunches over the rear wheel arches. The effect is heightened by the new rear combination lamps, which flow from the rear quarters around the corners of the vehicle to underscore the tailgate glass.
The distinctive side-hinged rear door has been replaced by a roof-hinged tailgate, and the spare tire is stored under the cargo floor.
The attention paid to aerodynamics can be seen on details like the small vortex generators molded into the taillight cases and near the base of the A-pillars or the aerodynamic under-trays beneath the passenger cabin that help smooth and control airflow.
The new RAV4’s cabin is more spacious and offers the driver a cockpit-like position with driver-centric controls.
The new dashboard comprises strong upper and lower beams, interrupted by a curved, metal-finished spar to frame the instrument binnacle, steering wheel and driver’s footwell.
A number of quality materials are introduced, including soft padding on many of the touch-points for driver and passengers, crisp trim finishes, new colors and more leather around the instrument panel. All the instrument and switchgear is backlit in cool blue.
RAV4’s body structure will include high-strength steel to help achieve several significant goals, including a robust and stiff platform that enhances steering and handling precision, and a body structure that is both strong and light.
The engine line-up for the European market includes a 149bhp 2.0-liter gasoline engine, a new 122bhp 2.0-liter diesel and a 148bhp 2.2-liter diesel. Each one gives improved CO2 emissions performance, on average better by 12 per cent across the range.