TOYOTA lays genuine claim to having created the compact SUV market with the launch of its RAV4 back in 1994.
Originally just a three-door model, its name stood for Recreational Active Vehicle 4-wheel drive and power was via a small 2.0-litre petrol engine.
These days the arena is swiftly expanding with around 20 different models vying for sales, and with its fourth generation RAV4 the Japanese giant has a car that’s better in every way to its predecessors.
Unveiled at the Los Angeles Motor Show, the new model due on sale early next year has a silhouette that longer and wider, yet lower than before and boasts new more efficient engines, improved dynamics and the choice of front or all-wheel drive.
It also has sharper looks plus a more spacious cabin which offers the driver a cockpit-like position at the wheel and the pillars are thinner, and more forward placed, providing a greater field of vision. The switchgear is also backlit in blue.
A significant change is a top-hinged tailgate, power-operated on some versions, rather than the side-opener of previous RAV4 models.
And Toyota says that the front-to-rear seat couple distance is now a best-in-class 970mm which, combined with a thinner front seatback design, increases rear legroom.
The rear seats have also been made more comfortable by increasing the cushion’s length, surface angle and adding higher side bolsters.
Load space is longer too, with capacity increased to 547 litres while an extra 49 litres of storage have been added to the under-tray.
The engine line-up comprises a 149bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine, a new 122bhp 2.0-litre diesel and a 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel, each with lowered CO2 emissions. In fact the 2.0 diesel front-wheel drive model with Stop & Start produces only 127g/km.
There is also a retuned suspension, revised electric power steering and an Integrated Dynamic Drive System that comes with a new Sport mode.
Safety features include new anti-whiplash seats and seven airbags - including a driver’s knee airbag and twin-chamber front seat side airbags – while a pair of fresh technologies on RAV4 for the first time are a Lane Departure Alert and a Blind Spot Monitor.
More details along with prices are expected shortly.