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All-new 4th gen. Toyota RAV4 compact crossover SUV
Larger with better torque distribution and safety systems

4th generation Toyota RAV4 compact crossover SUV: front-side view.

New RAV4: longer, wider and lower than its predecessor.

30 Nov. 2012, Elie Aoun: Eighteen years ago, Toyota's first compact, car-based unitary body (monocoque bodyshell) SUV, the first-generation RAV4, was really compact, with an overall body length of only 3.69 metres (145.27 inches) at the time.

After 4.5 million units sold worldwide since 1994 (1.2 million units in Europe), the all-new, 4th generation RAV4, arrives early next year with larger dimensions, increased space, better safety and performance.


4th generation Toyota RAV4 compact crossover SUV: profile view.

The larger dimensions provide more generous interior space.

Outside, the new RAV4 is longer, wider and slightly lower than its predecessor, with an overall body length of 179.9 inches (4.57 metres), 72.6 in. width (1.844m), 65.4 in. height (1.661m) and a wheelbase of 104.7 in. (2.66m).

The rear seats of the 5-passenger compact crossover SUV may be split 60:40 and each section can be reclined independently. The side-hung tailgate has been replaced by a top-hinged version, which may be equipped with power operation. At 25.4 inches (645 mm), the new tailgate opening has a low load space lip height with a wide aperture of 52.56 in. (1335 mm).

The length of the load space has been increased, raising luggage capacity to 19.3 cu. ft. (547 litres), and the undertray storage has been increased from 1.8 cu. ft. (51 litres) to 3.53 cu. ft. (100 litres).


The US market gets the RAV4 with the 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder gasoline (petrol) engine developing 176 hp (131 kW, 178 PS) at 6000 rpm, and 175 lb-ft (233 Nm, 23.78 kg-m) at 4100, with the front- or all-wheel drive system and a six-speed automatic gearbox. The optional V6 of the previous-generation RAV4 will be discontinued.

Front-wheel-drive models have received EPA estimated fuel efficiency ratings of 24 U.S. mpg city (equivalent to 28.8 UK mpg, 9.8 litre/100 km and 10.2 km/litre) / 31 highway (equivalent to 37.2 UK mpg, 7.6 litre/100 km and 13.2 km/litre), while all-wheel-drive models are EPA estimated at 22 U.S. mpg city (equivalent to 26.4 UK mpg, 10.7 litre/100 km and 9.35 km/litre) / 29 mpg highway (equivalent to 34.8 UK mpg, 8.11 litre/100 km and 12.33 km/litre). A new Eco mode is designed to promote more efficient driving thus helping to enhance fuel efficiency.

In Europe, Toyota's compact crossover SUV comes with two new powerplants: a 2.0 litre diesel and the 2.5 litre petrol unit for the Russian market, in addition to a 2.2 litre diesel engine now available in Russia for the first time.

The Western European line up includes a 151 DIN hp (110 kW, 149 PS, 147 bhp) 2.0 litre petrol engine, a new 124 DIN hp (90 kW, 122 PS, 121 bhp) 2.0 litre diesel, and a 150 DIN hp (109 kW, 148 PS and 146 bhp) 2.2 litre D-4D diesel engine.

The Eastern European powertrain line up comprises a 145 DIN hp (105 kW, 143 PS, 141 bhp) 2.0 litre petrol engine, a 180 DIN hp (130 kW, 178 PS, 181 bhp) 2.5 litre petrol engine, and a newly available, 150 DIN hp (109 kW, 148 PS and 146 bhp) 2.2 litre D-4D diesel engine.

The available transmissions are 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic or CVT.

4th generationToyota RAV4 compact crossover SUV: front seats and dashboard side view.

Dynamic flow from side to side.

On the handling side, the new RAV4 gets retuned front and rear suspension systems and a revised electric power steering. It has a McPherson strut front suspension, double-wishbone rear suspension and four-wheel disc brakes. It is also available with both Down-hill Assist and Hill Start Assist Control.

Fitted as standard to all vehicles equipped with automatic transmission, Down-hill Assist Control automatically regulates gear selection, engine speed and the individual wheel braking capabilities of the ABS system on slippery descents.

 Dynamic Torque Control

Coming to the drive distribution aspect, the new Dynamic Torque Control 4WD system receives information from various sensors (speed, steering angle, throttle angle and yaw rate) to automatically and continuously monitor and control 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 (front-wheel-drive) to 50:50 split, with complete front-wheel drive automatically engaged under normal driving conditions to improve fuel consumption.

4th generationToyota RAV4 compact crossover SUV: driving position.

The driving position respects the SUV-style design.

Basically, Dynamic Torque Control AWD provides three drive modes: Auto, Lock and Sport. 

In Auto Mode, RAV4 delivers power primarily to the front wheels under most driving conditions, switching automatically to AWD only when needed. This mode helps enhance fuel efficiency and reduce drivetrain wear. However, torque transfer to the rear wheels does not take place only when the slip is detected (as in the third generation RAV4), but also when the system detects understeer while cornering on-road (to enhance driving precision).
In Lock Mode at lower speeds, RAV4 essentially has a full-time AWD system with power delivered to all four wheels. At speeds below approximately 25 mph (40 km/h) in Lock Mode,  up to 50 percent of engine power is sent to the rear wheels, enhancing traction in sandy or muddy conditions. Lock Mode reverts to Auto Mode when vehicle speed passes approximately 25 mph (40 km/h).

4th generationToyota RAV4 compact crossover SUV: leather interior.

Interior with leather option.

On the front-drive RAV4’s, Sport Mode sharpens shift timing, throttle and steering response.  In RAV4 with AWD, Sport Mode provides nearly instantaneous torque transfers between the front and rear wheels to help enhance cornering performance.  Under certain conditions, Sport Mode can automatically deliver up to 50 percent of engine power to the rear wheels.

Also in Sport Mode, the AWD system can apportion power based on input from the steering angle and yaw rate sensors of the Vehicle Stability Control system.  When turning into and through a corner, power is sent to the rear wheels to maximize traction available at each of the four corners of the vehicle.  Under braking in a straight line in Sport Mode, power delivery to the rear wheels can be momentarily suspended to exploit the benefits of ABS and VSC, as the Integrated Dynamic Drive System coordinates control of the new Dynamic Torque Control 4WD, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Electric Power Steering (EPS) systems to enhance performance, handling and safety.


4th generationToyota RAV4 compact crossover SUV: boot / trunk with rear seats folded down.

The side-hung tailgate has been replaced by a top-hinged one.

The new Toyota SUV is equipped with a new anti-whiplash seat design, with standard 7 airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag and twin-chamber front seat side airbags.

Optional equipment includes (standard and optional equipment varies dependent on markets and versions) Automatic High Beam, Lane Departure Alert and Blind Spot Monitor systems. The Automatic High Beam system employs a camera to monitor the road ahead and automatically switches the headlamps from high to low beam when it detects either a preceding or oncoming vehicle, while the Lane Departure Alert system uses a lane recognition camera sensor mounted at the head of the windscreen to determine if the vehicle is unintentionally leaving its lane. The system then alerts the driver via an audible warning buzzer and a flashing line icon in the multi-information display.

The Blind Spot Warning system notifies the RAV4's driver of a vehicle travelling in an adjacent lane in their blind spot by illuminating the relevant indicator mounted in the outer door mirror surface. The system uses radar sensors mounted on both sides of the rear of the new RAV4, which monitor the blind area of the driver. If the turn signal lamp switch is in operation, the indicator will flash at fixed intervals to alert the driver.


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