1 Nov 1997
More equipment, improved safety, better refinement and increased engine efficiency were the hallmarks of the super successful RAV4’s first facelift.
Lurking over the reinforced bumpers and body structure were a different grille, bumpers, headlights and tail-lights, while redesigned wheels, updated colours and a revised cabin featuring new instrumentation completed the obvious changes.
Toyota claimed that a mild engine massage led to more accessible torque and reduced noise, vibration and harshness levels.
In February ’98 the RAV4 Cabrio arrived. In three-door only guise, it featured a (very fiddly) black cabriolet-style roof and detachable sunroof. Reinforced pillars and doors offset any torsional rigidity loss.
In June the five-door gained power mirrors and electric windows as standard, while in October ’98 remote central locking, rear disc brakes were also included.
By this time the RAV4’s car-based rival numbers rose from zero at launch to include the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester and imminent Land Rover Freelander.