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February 21, 2013

New RAV4 big on change -- inside and out

— The all-new Toyota little-ute, the RAV4, comes out of the gate this year with some big changes inside and out that developers hope will boost sales of the already popular design.

Staying true to the original RAV4 concept, the first crossover SUV is now in its fourth generation.

Most notably gone is the rear spare tire that is now located under the cargo floor. Also gone is a V6 engine that gave way to a more fuel-efficient four-cylinder mated to a new six-speed transmission.

Dynamic styling includes a raised hood, a sloping roofline, wedge-styled rear quarter panels and an integrated rear spoiler. A power lift gate opens out replacing unpopular side mount hinges long scorned by RAV4 owners. New high tech aero stability side fins mimic the function of aircraft wingtips.

You may be familiar with wingtip devices mounted at both outer wings of jet aircraft. They improve efficiency by increasing lift at the wingtip by smoothing the airflow. The result improves fuel efficiency of powered aircraft and cross-country speed in gliders.

Toyota hopes to improve handling and fuel efficiency of its cars by incorporating similar technology in the RAV4. Pretty interesting.

The new RAV4's interior has a premium look with soft-touch accents. Even the base model takes on a futuristic design with shelve type tiers in the center dashboard. The Limited edition offers an elegant two-tone Terracotta interior that rivals many high-end  European sedans complete with French stitching on seats, dash and door panels. A nice touch.

RAV4 is available in three trim levels, the LE, XLE and Limited with base prices ranging from $22,300 to $27,010 respectively.

With seating for five, the RAV4 interior offers generous head and leg room although no third row seat is available. Consumers looking for more seating and more horsepower can move up to the Highlander model, Toyota says.

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