The new model is a global car, and will be built in Japan, China and Canada for sale in all of Toyota's key markets. Each region, including Europe, has tuned the dynamics and interior look and feel to suit local tastes. Annual sales are expected to average around 100,000 units,
The look of the new RAV4 has been derived from the 'Keen Look' design language recently introduced on the new Auris. There's a more distinctive grille flanked by slim, technical headlights on each side. The side profile is also sleeker, with a lower roofline and a slim glasshouse with blacked out pillars. The more slippery shape results in a four per cent improvement in aerodynamic efficiency over the current RAV4.
The inside also gets a new look, with higher quality materials used for a more premium feel; even the most basic RAV4 will get a touchscreen infotainment system mounted in the centre console. The seats are bigger, to boost comfort, and the driving position is lower.
The longer wheelbase results in an more spacious cabin, with increased legroom for rear passengers - enough for Toyota to axe the current car's sliding rear seats. Boot capacity is up from 137 litres to 547 litres, with a further 100 litres hidden under the boot floor.
Alloy wheels of 17in diameter will be standard, with 18s offered on mid-range models and above. Three trim levels will be offered in the UK.
Underpinning the new RAV4 is a development of the previous car's structure. The modular platform was introduced in 2006 and already underpins models including the Auris, Avensis and Prius. The new RAV4 is offered with both front- and all-wheel drive.
Perhaps the biggest dynamic development is a new 'Sport' mode for all-wheel drive models. This automatically sends 10 per cent of the torque to the rear wheels in normal driving conditions and up to 50 per cent while under hard cornering to cancel out understeer. The Sport mode also adjusts the throttle response and steering feel.
The Sport mode is part of an all-wheel drive system redesigned to offer greater traction and also more involvement for the driver. The differential can also be locked for a 50/50 torque split at speeds of up to 24mph. Although not intended as a serious off-roader, the new RAV4 is said to have enough true four-wheel drive ability to be able to deal with most poor road conditions.
Engines for the UK include the entry level 122bhp 2.0-litre diesel with stop-start and a six-speed manual gearbox, for CO2 emissions of 127g/km. There will also be a 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel with either a six-speed manual or six-speed auto', and a 149bhp 2.0-litre petrol with a CVT 'box as the sole petrol choice. There are no plans for a hybrid version at present.
The new RAV4 will go on sale early next month ahead of deliveries for the 1 March 2013 plate change. But despite the increase in size and equipment, prices are expected to fall slightly over the current model due to the greater economies of scale afforded by being a true global car.