RAV4 … take 4
The LA Auto Show got into full swing last night, and the much anticipated launch of the fourth-generation RAV4 was one of the more popular reveals. After supposedly leaked images and a video of the new Toyota compact SUV made the rounds last week, we can finally see what the little off-roader, hitting SA shores by April of next year, will look like.
While the styling will be left up to the subjective opinion of buyers, specifications of the incoming RAV4 were also released. Gone is the six-cylinder engine, as Toyota announced that the standard RAV4 will now be equipped with a four-cylinder, 2,5 litre engine. The latest four-pot will produce 131kW and 233Nm of torque. Two-litre petrol and turbodiesel models will also be available. A new six-speed auto ‘box has also been swapped out for its four-speed predecessor, and the drivetrain choice will be between front and all-wheel drive. A six-speed manual ‘box is also available. The engine and transmission operate in one of two modes – Sport or Eco – and the all-wheel drive version comes with dynamic torque control.
Dynamic Torque Control (DTC)
This means that the all-wheel drive model will shift from front-wheel drive to all-wheel drive when the vehicle is accelerated or the sensors detect that any of the wheels are slipping. That said, it is possible to lock the vehicle, with the DTC program having three drive modes: Auto, Lock and Sport. In Auto, the RAV4 is essentially front wheel drive, switching power to all four wheels when the sensors deem it necessary.
In Lock mode, at lower speeds such as on a trail, the off-roader is, like its predecessor, in permanent all-wheel drive. As with similar systems (such as the Nissan X-Trail), the lock disengages when passing a certain speed.
In Sport mode, the steering angle and yaw rate sensors determine where power is sent, and the vehicle’s stability control system optimises power distribution to get the best handling. In a corner, for example, power is sent to the rear to maximise traction. When braking, this power to the rear can be interrupted, momentarily, so that the ABS and stability control systems can work.
Front wheel drive models are said to be more fuel efficient, and are geared towards city driving, especially in Eco mode. Sport mode enhances the gear shifting, suspension and power steering, with MacPherson strut front suspension, double-wishbone rear suspension and four-wheel disc brakes. The LE and XLE will be equipped with 17” steel and alloy wheels respectively, with the Limited fitted with 18” alloys.
The most significant change aesthetically is that the rear door is swapped out for a standard tailgate, so gone is the side-hinged door with the mounted spare wheel. The spare wheel now lives in the tradition SUV space, under the luggage compartment. The five door version, then, features two rows of seating for five passengers, eight airbags and is sold in three trims (LE, XLE and Limited as at the Show).
“The new RAV4 has all the elements that made its predecessor popular, but has expanded them in a variety of ways. The newcomer has a strong presence that demonstrates Toyota’s dedication to its new, progressive design strategy,” says Leo Kok, senior corporate communications manager at Toyota SA.
“The RAV4 is also a versatile lifestyle vehicle by design. It offers the driving refinement, efficient performance, comfort and convenience that many young families demand, but it retains the original RAV4’s fun factor,” he concluded.