Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted May 28, 2013 16:01
Built for motorists who wanted the practicality and versatility of a sports utility vehicle with the size of and maneuverability of a compact car, the RAV4 is truly the pioneer of the compact crossover class.
The Toyota RAV4's early prominence and dominance has been challenged by many other brands, some successfully so. Now there's a new model, and it's time for us to see how the all new Toyota Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive (hence, RAV4) will fare.
The new dynamic styling of the RAV4 is the result of company CEO Akio Toyoda’s promise back in 2009 to make Toyota vehicles more exciting again. The aggressive new design is an achievement of the design goals set by Toyoda. The front-end styling is similar to that of the Europe-based Auris compact car and the US market Camry. The sculpted front and rear fenders combined with the tail lights define a very athletic character for a fun vehicle that it was meant to be. The traditionally side-hinged rear cargo door features a significant break as it now sports a roof-hinged liftgate with the spare tire stored underneath the cargo floor.
Inside, a clean combination of aluminum accents as well as 3M DI-NOC carbon fiber film with the predominantly black interior welcomes you. The subtle styling is similar to that of current generation stablemates, and features utilitarian ergonomics with ideally placed buttons and controls. The touch and feel of the surface is firm while not being too tough or rugged. The interior has also been configured to optimize space for better comfort.
Under the hood is a new 2.5-liter VVT-i engine similarly found in the Camry, but is rated minimally higher at 179 PS with 233 Nm of torque. The engine is quite peppy and very well-matched to the 6-speed automatic transmission. Compared to the previous 2.4-liter, the new engine performance is a huge improvement. Cruising at steady highway speeds is smooth, while overtaking can be done with ease if need be. On to fuel economy; it averaged about 12 km/liter on the highway, but it’s quite thirsty in the city averaging around 6.5 km/liter with traffic.
New body-engineering principles applied to the new RAV4 has resulted in creating a robust and stiff platform to enhance steering and handling precision, while being light through the use of high-tensile steel. The suspension has been reworked as well to optimize the balance between handling and comfort. The result is a significant improvement in ride comfort compared to its predecessors. Handling is impeccable for a vehicle of its class as it takes sharp corners with good precision and ease.
The new RAV4 might sound like it comes with all the bells and whistles with its relatively high pricetag. It is a disappointment that it does not come with HID headlamps and sports standard halogen projectors instead. It does not come with the ultrasonic wave proximity sensors similarly found in the V6 Camry, but does have rear corner and reverse sensors. Leather seats, as well as a wrapped steering wheel, shiftknob and dashboard trims do come standard. The front seats are also both power-adjustable. A nice addition would be the rear cargo net and curtain which gives a bit of privacy and passive security of your things from prying eyes.
The main letdown of the top-spec RAV4 would be its pricetag. At PhP 1,963,000, the RAV4 4x4 is priced way above its competition, and even knocks on the door of the larger crossovers. This was the folly of the previous generation, which resulted in rather low sales figures. It is even priced more than the Subaru Forester XT, which is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo which packs a lot more power and premium goodies.
For those who really desire a RAV4, the front-wheel drive variants do offer better value.