Since the launch of the original RAV4 in South Africa in 1995 the popular Toyota model which unleashed the cross-over revolution has already undergone three incarnations.
The fourth evolution of RAV4 was launched in South Africa in April 2013 and immediately proved popular with local buyers, increasing the compact Toyota SUV’s share of market from 3 to 7 percent by the end of that year.
Since then its market share has increased to a healthy 12 percent – making the RAV4 the current sales leader in the small SUV class.
Made available in over 150 countries, more than 5.5 million units of the four generations of RAV4 have been sold, and now it has been reloaded and refreshed to continue its success story in the growing small SUV and crossover market.
The latest model was previewed with the unveiling of the first RAV4 Hybrid at the New York International Auto Show in April this year, which coincided with the announcement of the new RAV4 range.
Meanwhile the local line-up was further strengthened in March last year with the introduction of an all-new 2.2-litre D-4D diesel model with new six-speed auto transmission and higher-spec VX trim.
At the time a new touch-screen multimedia system with ergonomically enhanced controls and high-resolution screen, using four times as many pixels as the original system, was also made available across the range.
In its latest form the RAV4 has a sleeker, more sophisticated, look. Its new frontal design, with full LED headlights included for the very first time, generates a stronger road presence. A key design update is the reshaped ‘nose’ with bigger Toyota emblem around the upper front grille.
The lines of the grille have been de-cluttered and smoothed out, and the addition of chrome detail gives the compact SUV a more cohesive appearance. A new rocker panel on the side creates a more flowing look and LED combination lamps and reworked bumpers add yet more emphasis to the RAV4’s road stance.
An elegant tail light design that features LED lights and no visible reverse lights sharpens up the rear, while a reshaped lower tailgate and tailgate garnish further emphasises the RAV’s solid stance.
The rear bumper has a larger painted section and revised reflectors, and a stylish shark-fin antenna and under-body valance further strengthens the RAV4’s presence on the road.
To round off the exterior enhancements all grades of the RAV4 now have new alloy wheel designs with differing styles dependent on grade: The 17-inch wheel design on the GX now has split spokes, while the 18-inch designs available on the VX models have been refined with slimmer spokes to express high quality and strength.
The vehicle is available in a choice of eight body colours, including a new Pure Blue Metallic and Dark Red Mica Metallic. The other colours are Glacier White, White Pearl, Satin Silver Metallic, Graphite Grey, Inferno Metallic and Bronze Metallic.
With the latest upgrade of the RAV4, Toyota’s engineers’ main focus was the sensory quality of the interior. The ambient lighting, materials and the layout of the gear shift area and cup holders have been revised and improved. A storage area for sunglasses has been added into the overhead interior lighting cluster above the windscreen.
The ornamentation textures have been made more distinct, and the instrument panel dials have been improved with the addition of a 4.2-inch colour multi-information display which shows information on energy usage, vehicle information and offers customisation options.
This is coordinated with the central 7-inch Toyota Touch 2 touch screen multimedia system with ergonomically-enhanced controls and a new high-resolution screen for brighter, sharper images.
The package includes Bluetooth for hands-free phone calls; a rear-view camera; vehicle information, including trip data, climate control profile; and management of settings for door locking and lighting.
It also enables simple connection of iPods and MP3 players via USB or Bluetooth. Audio system options, such as the radio and CD player, can also be controlled using the screen.
The shoulder portion of the front door trim has been softened, and convenience specification now include: Front Sonar (VX models), with warning buzzer and Back Monitor (new on the GX models) with guidelines (VX models only), an additional 12V accessory connector in the rear (all models), and auto headlamp levelling (changed from manual in the GX models).
New safety specification includes an auto door lock system that allows doors to automatically lock once the vehicle reaches a specific speed limit, auto locking retractor seatbelts for the rear centre seats, Trailer Sway Control and an alarm system on the GX models.
The RAV4’s trim levels (GX and VX) offer a generous sliding scale of kit. The GX models are well-appointed thanks to exterior features that now include LED headlights and rear combination lights, front and rear mud flaps, standard roof rails, auto headlamp levelling, 18” alloys, and Daytime Running Lights (DRL).
Inside the GX specification includes power windows, remote central locking and auto door lock, manual climate control, Multi Information Display, retractable tonneau cover with net barrier and rear Park Distance Control (PDC) to name just a few.
The VX grade tops up with full leather upholstery, electrically adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, front seat heaters, automatic dual-zone climate control, a reversing camera display with guidelines, front park distance control, a powered tailgate with memory function, cruise control and a keyless entry system (Smart Entry).
The five-star rated RAV4 is equipped with a whiplash-injury-reducing seat design and seven airbags as standard, including a driver’s knee airbag and twin-chamber front seat side airbags.
Active safety systems include ABS with EBD, BA, VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) and TRC (Traction Control), while AWD models go even further with VSC+ which integrates VSC and the vehicle’s Electric Power Steering (EPS) system.
The powertrain line-up in the latest RAV4 range stays unchanged. As previously it comprises a 107kW 2.0-litre Valvematic petrol engine in two-wheel drive format mated to a choice of 6-speed manual or Toyota’s highly-advanced Multidrive S transmission that provides drivers with a sporty, sequential seven-speed mode.
The 110kW 2.2 litre D-4D diesel engine is coupled with a six-speed manual (or six-speed auto) and the all-wheel drive capabilities of Toyota’s AWD System; while the 132kW 2.5 litre VVT-i petrol unit is married to a six-speed automatic transmission and AWD.
The RAV4 features Toyota’s advanced all-wheel drive technology, Dynamic Torque Control AWD. Using information from various sensors (speed, steering angle and yaw rate) the system continuously controls the torque transfer between the front and rear wheels via an electromagnetically controlled coupling positioned in front of the rear differential.
Front-to-rear torque distribution can vary from 100:0 to 50:50, with front-wheel drive (100:0) automatically engaged under normal driving conditions to improve fuel consumption.
The latest RAV4 also uses a sophisticated, high-speed interactive management system to co-ordinate control of Dynamic Torque Control AWD, vehicle stability control and electric power steering systems to enhance performance, handling and safety under all driving conditions.