The folks at Toyota claim that the RAV4 is the world’s first crossover SUV. Yes, even before the word crossover became a part of our vocabulary. Since its introduction in 1994, 1.7-million RAV4s have been sold. Still today, eighty percent of the vehicles are on the road. Although the compact crossovers segment is still relatively new, it currently accounts for 13 percent of the market.
The base model LE starts at $24,125 and tops out at $30,015 with options. By adding-on the all-wheel drive configuration, the price drives up $1,400.
The RAV4 is the third vehicle in the Toyota and the Scion line up, offering emotional appeal. Basically, Toyota has finally gotten in the style game. Toyota finally realizes that there are a plethora of brand’s on the market today that match (or at least come close to matching) the Japanese brand in features and reliability. So, Toyota realizes that relying on reliability no longer compensates for a safe, conservative design.
Toyota’s direction to focus on adding pizazz to its design began with the sexy looking 2013 Scion FS-R sports car and it was followed-up by the radically redesign 2013 Toyota Avalon. Inside the RAV4, Toyota has spruced-up the interior too, depending on the trim level selected. The upgraded trim levels are now available with a two-tone interior trim known as color-blocking, which gives the RAV4 an upscale interior, which has usually been reserved for its premium brand, Lexus.
The RAV4 also becomes the first Toyota equipped with an all-wheel drive configuration, offering dynamic torque control. This system improves handling by distributing power from the front to the rear, while managing the vehicle’s braking system from side-to-side.
Moreover, all RAV4s are now equipped with a rearview camera, eight airbags and 17-inch wheels (18-inch wheels are standard on the Limited model).
And for those seeking a little more luxury, such features as heated front seats, a dual zone ventilation system, an adjustable power liftgate, leather-like seats, a blind-spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert system, a sliding front-center armrest, a driver’s side memory seat, a push-button keyless starter, a navigation system, a satellite radio system, an upgraded 11-speaker audio system and the brand’s signature Entune audio system are available.
The marketing folks at Toyota are targeting are going after two groups with this compact crossover, small families and empty nesters.
The RAV4 now offers more interior space due to eliminating the rear tire from hanging outside the door. Yes, believe it or not this has assisted with saving space coupled with thinner rear second seats. As the old saying goes, ‘every inch counts.’
The RAV4 no offers an optional third-row seat or a spare that hangs from the rear cargo door. The compact spare tire is now neatly housed in the floor of the cargo area.
Also Toyota drops the six-cylinder engine this year. Only a fuel-efficient four-cylinder, which kick out a healthy 176 horses (horsepower) is available for 2013.
Toyota RAV4 offers the typical new car luxury warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles and 2 years of free maintenance.
When was the last time you heard anyone say that a Toyota was stylish? Besides the current-generation Avalon and the Scion FS-R, it’s never been a term synonymous with the brand, up until now. The RAV4 is not only stylish, but offers a comfortable ride, too.
RAV4 buyers can expect the reliability and the features they have come to expect from Toyota, without sacrificing a stylish design. Toyota is counting on approximately 200,000 buyers to park a new RAV4 in their driveway this year. Based upon our early assessment of the vehicle, we believe the automaker shouldn’t have any problem reaching its goal.
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him at twitter/jeffcars.