Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation opened 2006 with the recent launch of its all-new RAV4 compact SUV and the Altis Sport. With the new RAV4, Toyota's new SUV has been completely reengineered to elevate its image towards a more prestigious and advanced overall design by providing a new technological package to cater to city driving needs and features not yet found in other vehicles in its class. The 2006 RAV4 is set to further strengthen Toyota position in the commercial vehicle segment, widening its line-up which already includes the Innova Multipurpose Vehicle (MPV), the Hilux pick-up, the Hiace utility van, the Previa Minivan and the Fortuner and Prado in the SUV category.

On the other hand, the Altis Sport (or S Variant) is equipped with a 1.6-liter VVT-i engine, incorporated with sporty accessories in both the exterior and interior designs. Aside from further strengthening Toyota's hold in the passenger car (PC) category (composed of the Altis Line-up in medium PC segment, the Vios in the small PC segment, and the Camry in the luxury sedan), the Altis S is also set to aid in the Philippine automotive manufacturing industry by increasing the company's local production of this model.

RAV4 history and overview

The Philippine roads first experienced the RAV4 when it was launched in 1996, and subsequently upgraded in 2003. Being the first compact SUV to be introduced in the country, the RAV4 has dug itself a niche in an extremely selective market.

This year, the RAV4 will once again roam the roads with active driving performance, ensured ease of operation with its advanced and friendly technologies, overwhelming utility and superior cabin space and an elevated image that further portrays a premium feel.

The RAV4's bigger exterior dimensions of 4,600mm (length) X 1,855mm (width) X 1720 mm (height) makes it comparable to vehicles a notch above its class. With a bigger exterior, the RAV4 can now accommodate a likewise more comfortable interior space of 1,745mm X 1,340mm X 1,180 mm; and a more spacious luggage storage space of 940mm X 1,090mm X 990mm.

It incorporates a set of improved features such as an impressive "hunting eye" projector design for the headlamps, a trendy and distinct radiator grille, a round transparent set of front fog lamps, six-spoke, 17-inch aluminum wheels, enlarge outer mirrors with black accent, brighter Light-emitting diode (LED) rear combination lamps, and rear spoiler to enhance aerodynamics.

Improvements in the interior design are highlighted by the original double wing-shaped instrument panel that connects from the center cluster to the right and left door trim; highly visible optitron meters; use of luxurious genuine leather and metallic panels; boomerang-shaped door trims, enlarged horn pad for the steering wheel; and shift levers made of plated over highly textured resin shift for the gate-type 4X4 automatic variant. All in all, the RAV4's design employs a sophisticated image through the use of three-dimensional surfaces, veering away from the flat and conservative styling of its competitors.

RAV4 Comfort, Convenience and Utility

The RAV4's comfort features are basically characterized by enlarged interior space and an array of functional items such as the front and rear seats arm rest; left and right seats move independently with a slide volume of 165mm and a 26-degree range. Its high performance air conditioning system is equipped with independent driver and front passenger side controls and an automatic switch, and a pollen removal mode control that shifts blower to recirculation. Power switches include windows, 4WD function, seat recline, front vertical tilt, vertical lifter lumbar support and front seat heater. Like most European models, it now has a steering wheel audio switch all for maximum convenience.

The RAV4 also incorporates cruise control which enables it to maintain desired speed by automatically adjusting throttle valve position and injection volume without the need to depress the accelerator pedal, thereby making long distance driving more pleasant and comfortable.

Storage spaces are designed to maximize the vehicle's interior space for utility. The rear seats tilt down to a 60:40 split with a one-touch lever resulting to a 1,870 mm long deck space. Aside from cup holders and console boxes located in strategic areas of the interior, its deck floor storage now includes a 90-liter storage box for small or wet items, and a removable two-piece double folding deck board.

RAV4 performance and safety

A tough chassis mechanism, complimented by a powerful yet smooth power train is the formula of the RAV4's driving performance. Both 4WD and 2WD variants are powered by a newly adopted 2.4-liter VVT-i engine (mated to a four-speed automatic super ECT) which provides better power and torque with a maximum output of 170hp/4,000rpm and maximum torque of 224Nm/4,000rpm.

Furthermore, the RAV4 is equipped with Active Torque Control 4WD which is a compact, lightweight and high performance 4WD drive system that optimally controls torque distribution to the front and rear wheels through the electric control coupling and rear differential. This system gives stability in terms of accelerating traction performance and secure cornering in terms of driving stability. It also provides better fuel economy by distributing drive torque to the rear wheels only when needed. This is coupled with the 4WD lock mode switch which fixes front and rear wheel torque in a 50:50 distribution ratio until the vehicle reaches a speed of 40kph.

It has a new platform that minimizes cabin shape changing upon impact and employs Head Impact Protection (HIP) technology inside the cabin for enhanced passenger protection and an impact absorbing, vertical frame structured hood with reinforced lock bar for increased pedestrian protection. Front passengers will feel much safer with the combination of dual stage driver and front passenger, side and curtain SRS airbags at par with higher-end SUVs. As a bonus, the RAV4 also employs rear seatbelt hanger and tongue storage box for rear passenger's added safety.

Durability is likewise improved with the RAV4's highly rigid body structure with the use of advanced computer-aided engineering analysis to reinforce its body structure. Wider use of rust-proof sheeting and adoption of wax treatment and sealer is incorporated for better rust resistance performance.

The 2006 RAV4 will be offered in two variants (4X4 and 4X2) and only in a/t mode. A 4x4 White Pearl Crystal Shine RAV4 is pegged at Php 1.8M and other available colors (Graying Blue Metallic, Silver Metallic, Beige Metallic and Black) retail for Php 1.785M. On the other hand, a 4x2 White Pearl Crystal Shine RAV4 is pegged at Php 1.440M and other available colors (Graying Blue Metallic, Silver Metallic, Beige Metallic and Black) retail for Php 1.425M.

Altis S

With the strong demand for a sedan with a sporty look and feel, but still maintaining an affordable price, Toyota decided to widen its Corolla Altis line-up by introducing a more exciting, less conventional, "dressed-up" variant, the Altis S. Capitalizing on the Corolla Altis heritage and the inherent Toyota trademarks of quality, durability and reliability, the Altis S is positioned for active, yet practical individuals.

Exterior Design

Overall, minor sporty accessories unique only to this variant have been added in order to emphasize the race car feel of this sedan. In the exterior, for example, front, side and rear skirts have been added, complimenting the honey-comb mesh-type radiator grille carrying the "S" emblem to distinguish this variant from the others. The rear spoiler is likewise dressed up in a duck tail type design.

To further unify the Altis S's form, side protection mouldings, outside door handles and side view mirrors are now color-keyed. Front fog lamps are added as well for better night driving visibility and to complete the look, 5-spoke 15-inch alloy wheels with 195/60 R15 tires.

Interior Design

To improve the athletic character of the Altis S interior, the "leather and metal" theme is used as an overall guide to the added accessories: leather seats, door trims, four-spoke steering wheel, race-type shift knob and console box lid. A sharp contrast of metal panels is incorporated for the door trims, center cluster, and cubic printing. The acoustics are taken care of by the 2-DIN, single-CD (with MP3 capability) head unit. The Altis S is also equipped with the Toyota Vehicle Security System (TVSS) as a standard safety feature.

Color and Pricing

The Altis S is available in three shades: Super White, Black Mica and Red Mica Metallic and is available for Php 830,000.