Toyota Motor Corp.’s has bet a tall pile of chips on the new fifth-generation RAV4 compact SUV, making it the most important single Toyota model in the U.S. since anyone can remember.
Twenty-two years ago, while Bill Clinton was still president, Toyota Motor Corp. brought a new small SUV to the U.S., a fusion of car and truck with the odd acronym, RAV4. The look was a bit odd, too, and its role in the product lineup was rather minor compared to Toyota’s stars, the Corolla and Camry sedans or the fast-growing Lexus luxury franchise.
RAV4 unexpectedly evolved into quite a popular model because – with the benefit of hindsight – 1) it came from Toyota, an automaker with a solid and growing reputation for quality and reliability; and 2) it was a light, useful, affordable, fuel efficient and fun-to-drive SUV at a moment when the SUV trend was just taking off.
Fast forward to today. SUVs and crossovers have grown to dominate the non-pickup truck vehicle market in the U.S. while the popularity of sedans is falling. RAV4, to the astonishment of many, has turned into Toyota’s number-one model, selling more copies than either Camry or Corolla, the two top-selling sedans. Indeed, sales of the fourth-generation RAV4 doubled in 2017 from four years earlier to 407,594.
To double down with the GenV RAV4, Toyota has created a number of different powertrain, appearance, option and convenience packages designed to reinforce its hold and widen the lead as the number-one compact SUV in front of other strong sellers such as Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Ford Escape.
RAV4 (Recreation Activity Vehicle – 4WD) will come in thirteen variations of three body styles, gas versions powered by a 2.5-liter four cylinder engine with an eight-speed automatic and a gas-electric hybrid with a continuously variable transmission.
In a test drive through Carmel Valley near Monterey and along the Pacific Coast Highway, as well as a dedicated off-road course with several different terrains and obstacles, the new RAV4 performed well, delivering a quiet, competent ride on a variety of surfaces. Power was adequate, though if power is important, the gas-electric hybrid version did better than the gas engines.
In some configurations, such as the Adventure model designed for off-road performance, RAV4 will feature dynamic torque vectoring, which directs more power away from a wheel that is slipping toward one or more wheels that have traction for better grip in snow, mud, sand or gravel. Built on Toyota’s TNGA global platform that underpins Prius, Camry and Corolla, the new model will offer Safety Sense 2.0, a series of safety features such as Lane Departure Alert and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control on all models.
Toyota’s expressive and angular styling themes make RAV4 extremely distinctive and recognizable – a somewhat polarizing design language that definitely has its fans as well as foes. (Personally, I like it a lot.)
Toyota’s Entune Audio system, with a 7-inch touchscreen and six speakers, is standard on all models, includes Apple Car Play and is Alexa and Bluetooth capable. An enhanced Entune 3.0 Audio plus is available is an option several configurations that has an 8-inch touchscreen, SiriusXM and other features. A premium JBL system and dynamic navigation is also an available option on some models. Wireless charging for capable smartphones also is available on some models.
The hybrid version is rated at 39 mpg combined, while the gas versions will deliver up to 29 mpg.
To get a no headaches car buying experience you can reach me:
Gabriel Rosentall – Product Advisor at Regency Toyota Vancouver
Cell: 236 863 2192 – call or text