Currently reading: LA motor show: Toyota RAV4
Toyota has unveiled the fourth-generation RAV4 at the LA show, promising an improved driving experience

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. 


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The Toyota RAV4 offers tidy handling and fine engines, but also a choppy ride and high price

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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. 

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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peterover 28 November 2012

Funny how this used to be the

Funny how this used to be the car to watch and worth three Freelanders.

now i'd definately take the Freelander, has matured into a fine motor.

whereas the Rav4 looks irrelevant, 

ewanmac76 28 November 2012


Looks ok from the outside but pretty dull.  Horror story inside though.  Can't see the competition worried.  Shame as the original RAV was not only great to look at butlasso very fun to drive.



src 28 November 2012

Yep totally agree my '94 RAV4

Yep totally agree my '94 RAV4 GX was a really fun vehicle and handled well for vehicle of that type at the time, Even my '98 RAV4 was not bad either.

Forgot to say all very well Toyota making the new RAV4 a global car but now they have vehicle too small for US taste and one too big for Europe taste so will lose sales both sides of the pond for RAV4's owners thinking of trading up. I suspect Toyota will have some Juke type SUV/Crossover vehicle to slot in below the RAV4 in Toyota's range at somepoint and drop the Urban Cruiser maybe.


src 28 November 2012

It's getting a big old bus

It's getting a big old bus now the new RAV4.

I had a RAV4 at launch a 1994 3 Door GX, Then '98 RAV4 5 Door VX then a 2nd Gen '01 RAV4 5 Door VX and a '04 RAV4 5 Door XT4. I gave up after that the 3rd Gen RAV4 just got too big for my liking and ugly as well. Since then had at launch '07 Nissan Qashqai 5 Door Tekna 4x4 dCI-Auto and then '10 version. 

If Toyota made a Qashqai size SUV/Crossover I would consider it again but until then no chance and the Toyota Urban Cruiser is very poor and not good enough. Good too hear Nissan for next gen Qashqai are stick with it's size more or less but better packaging and upped interior quality.