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LA show: Toyota reveals new RAV4

Fours for 4: Toyota's new RAV4 gets an all-four-cylinder engine line-up this time around, including a diesel for Australia.

Toyota Australia confirms three engines – including a diesel – for stylish new RAV4

Toyota logo29 Nov 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

TOYOTA has staged the debut of its new-generation RAV4 at the Los Angeles motor show, revealing in full its fresh Corolla-influenced styling just months before first deliveries of the compact SUV start in Australia in the first quarter of 2013.

Almost simultaneously, Toyota Australia confirmed speculation it will expand the engine line-up offered on the local market to three four-cylinder engines – two petrol and, for the first time, a turbo diesel.

As expected, the 3.5-litre V6 has been dropped, for the United States as well as Australia.

The unveiling follows hot on the heels of official teaser shots released two weeks ago, and a series of leaked images that made their way onto the web earlier this week.

The larger fourth-generation model returns some styling spice to the RAV4 badge, picking up the sleeker and sportier European-style design of the recently released new Corolla small car.

Confirming what was revealed earlier this week in a series of leaked images, the new RAV has adopted a conventional liftback-style tailgate, with the spare wheel relocated to a cavity under the floor like some rivals.

This removes the burden of swinging open the heavy, tyre-laden rear door as with the previous model.

Speaking at the LA show, Toyota US president and CEO Jim Lentz said the new model's more dynamic visuals were the result of a mandate from Toyota president Akio Toyoda to design more appealing and engaging vehicles.

8 center imageThe new model will give Toyota Australia fresh ammunition to tackle a raft of brand new compact SUV rivals, including the recently launched Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru's new Forester, and Mazda's forthcoming more powerful CX-5 upgrade.

As expected, under the sharper new bonnet design of the US version sits a Camry-derived 2.5-litre inline petrol four, producing 132kW at 6000rpm and 233Nm at 4100rpm, up from 124kW produced by the previous 2.4.

This is the same engine that will feature in the RAV here, but unlike in the US it will be joined by a smaller 2.0-litre unit sourced from the Corolla producing around 102kW.

This engine, which is expected to be available only on front-drive versions, will give Toyota a new price leader, following similar strategies from rivals like Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Honda.

In an unexpected move, the US market will - like Australia - drop the previous 200kW 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine from the options list as it moves away from traditional gas-guzzling SUVs.

Toyota Australia plans to effectively replace that engine with an equally torque-rich European 2.2-litre diesel engine producing around 110kW and 340Nm, with ueel consumption below 6.0-litres per 100km.

The 2.4 petrol and 2.2 diesel powertrains will be linked to either a six-speed manual gearbox or a new six-speed automatic transmission with sequential manual mode in place of the outdated four-speeder, while the 2.0 will get a fuel-saving CVT with seven-speed manual mode.

The RAV range will again be offered in both front- and four-wheel-drive, with the 2.0-litre expected to be offered only on the front-drive model as a price leader.

The new RAV's AWD system will feature a new Dynamic Torque Control system that diverts power from the front wheels and send it to the rear when slip is detected, bringing it into line with a batch of soft-roader rivals.

Greater use of high-tensile steel has yielded weight savings, allowing Toyota to add more sound-deadening and an acoustic windscreen. A standard rear spoiler is said to help aerodynamics and fuel consumption.

The new asymmetric driver-oriented dash features high-mounted instruments and more soft-touch materials than before and clear blue illumination on tthe dials. All variants get steering wheel audio and phone controls.

GoAuto sat in the cabin at the LA show and can attest to the big step up in tactility and cabin presentation over the rather tired old model.

All RAV variants get a standard 6.1-inch touchscreen with integrated reversing camera, while mid-range and premium versions will get satellite navigation. The top-sped Limited gets optional blind-spot warning and standard automatic tailgate.

With dimensions of 4569mm long, 1844mm wide and 1661mm high, the new RAV is slightly lower and wider than before, and rides on the same 2660mm wheelbase. Under the new body sits front MacPherson struts and double rear wishbones.

With the 60/40 rear split-fold seats down, Toyota claims a class-leading 2075 litres of storage space, or 1087 litres with the rear row in place.

Sales of the current RAV4 - launched back in 2006 - are up 17.2 per cent in the first 10 months of 2012, to 11,761 units, but the market segment has grown 22.2 per cent – making it one of the fastest growing categories in Australia.

Newcomers such as the Mazda CX-5 have successfully used diesel powertrains to grab incremental sales, while the CR-V is expected to join the diesel fray with a UK-made model soon.

Toyota has sold nearly 200,000 RAV4 models over the course of three generations since the first model was launched in 1994.

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