Toyota has made its all-new RAV4, unveiled today in final production form at the Los Angeles motor show, longer, wider and more spacious as it attempts to reinvent one of the models that invented the smaller SUV segment.
The fourth-generation model has also been given a bold new look inspired by the new Auris and driving dynamics that are said to be more involving than before as part of Toyota chief Akio Toyoda's brief to inject some excitement into the Japanese firm's cars.
At 4570mm long and 1845mm wide, the RAV4 is 205mm longer and 30mm wider than the current car, and a full 830mm longer than the original 1994 two-door model. The wheelbase of the Mk4 is up by 100mm over the Mk3, to 2660mm. It also sits 25mm lower at 1660mm, with ground clearance down by 10mm. All of this means a weight increase of around 10-15kg, depending on the engine.
The size of the new five-seat RAV4 is partly due to the deletion of the long-wheelbase seven-seat version of the current generation RAV4 sold in the US. But Toyota says the increase in size is also in response to changing market tastes; for example, buyers of estate cars are switching to models of the new RAV4's size, Toyota's research suggests.
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.