1 Jul 1994
The once-conservative Toyota launched what became one of the most significant cars of the 1990s with the original RAV4.
The constant all-wheel drive Toyota (none of the front-wheel drive-only variants sold abroad were officially imported) eschewed the traditional 4WD practice of a separate chassis for a car-like monocoque body construction, but without losing the typical 4WD height, ground clearance and off-road look.
Underneath it was part Camry (engine, some driveline components) and part Celica GT4 (suspension), with plenty of Corolla bits thrown in as well.
With the resulting economy, handling, braking and weight benefits, the RAV4 soon enjoyed critical and commercial success, spurring on many other major manufacturers to the party.
Initially a single two-door four-seater wagon body arrived, powered by a 96kW 2.0-litre 3S-FE twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine mated to either a four-speed auto or five-speed manual gearbox.
Power steering and central locking was standard. Options included anti-lock brakes, a driver’s airbag, a sunroof and power windows.
In June ’95 the RAV4 five-door (SXA11R) joined the range.
Addressing the rear passenger and cargo area space issues, the five-door’s wheelbase and length increased significantly, to become a full five-seater.
The limited edition Oasis arrived in June ’97 in both body styles.