— 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.
The cabin is quiet on the open road due in part to a new acoustic windshield filled with special materials between two glass panes. A backup camera is standard as is a 6.1-inch center touch screen for display of climate, audio and navigation controls.
There is 38.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind fold-flat second row seats and 73.4 cubic feet of overall loading space, slightly larger than the previous year and average for its class.
RAV4's dash panel and gauges feature a new clear blue illumination that provides crisp visibility in most ambient light conditions, and a unified, coherent appearance at night.
All option packages are generous. For under $30,000, the RAV 4 Limited can be equipped with every option available including sporty two tone interior with French stitching, navigation, Bluetooth, Toyota Entune, power heated seats, blind spot monitor and more.
Engaging Sport and Eco mode buttons on the dashboard make a noticeable difference in the manner and characteristics of steering, engine performance and transmission gearing all of which contribute to better fuel economy.
Fifth and sixth gears on the new transmission serve as overdrive to increase highway mileage. Lower gears are optimized for city driving. Front and all-wheel drive models are available with the latter resulting in two miles per gallon less fuel consumption.
The zero to 60 mile per hour sprint takes 8.6 seconds, average for its class.
If you want to venture off road, the new RAV 4 equipped with a torque converter system provides equal power to all four wheels at lower speeds and reverts to automatic mode for higher speeds.
Toyota hopes to sell 200,000 RAV4’s this year, a few more than the 171,877 sold during 2012 and up from 2011 sales of 132,237. With two years of scheduled maintenance thrown in to sweeten the deal, it may just reach its goal.
Len Ingrassia is an automotive columnist for CNHI News Service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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2013 Toyota RAV4 LE
Engine: 2.5-liter, four cylinder
EPA estimated fuel economy: 24/31 FWD, 22/29 AWD
Base price: $23,300; XLE - $24,290, Premium - $27,010
Model as tested: N/A
Assembled: RAV 4 assembly is completed at Toyota’s Tahara and Obu plants in Japan and also in Woodstock, Ontario for the XLE and Limited models. U.S. / Canadian parts content, 50 percent. Major source of foreign parts content, Japan – 40 percent. Country of origin for engine parts, U. S. and Japan; transmission parts, U.S. and Japan.
Crash test ratings: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have not yet rated the RAV4.
Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile basic; 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain; 2 year/25,000 scheduled maintenance.