The History Of Toyota RAV4

An all-electric version of the RAV4, the RAV4 EV, is detailed on its own page.

The Toyota RAV4 (pronounced "rav-four") is a compact crossover SUV built and marketed by the Toyota Motor Corporation. The car was introduced in Japan and Europe in 1994 and sales began in North America in 1996 to cater to consumers wanting a vehicle that had most of the benefits of SUVs, such as increased cargo room, higher visibility, and the option of full-time four-wheel drive, along with the maneuverability and fuel economy of a smaller car. The early success of the RAV4 paved the way for other compact SUVs such as the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander, the Ford Escape/ Mazda Tribute, and the Subaru Forester. Its name stands for "Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive," although not all RAV4s have four wheel drive, which is optional in some countries. In most countries, the RAV4 is the only compact SUV from Toyota. In other markets, it is the crossover counterpart of the FJ Cruiser.

The RAV4 was originally based on the Corolla platform, and was offered in both two and four-door versions. In the US, a 2.0L straight-4 producing 120hp (89kW) was offered. Both Front wheel drive and Four-wheel drive were available, and the RAV4 could be had with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. In 1998, the RAV4 was slightly restyled on the front and rear fascias, and a soft-top two-door was made available exclusively in the US market. Horsepower was increased slightly to 127. In 1999, the two-door hardtop was dropped from the American lineup, leaving the 4-door and soft-top models.

One interesting version, the RAV4 EV, was an all-electric 'zero-emission' model offered for sale in small quantities in California. These models came with a 60,000-mile (97,000km) battery warranty, and the vehicles still command high prices on the used-car market. One sold in 2006 on eBay for over US$50,000.

A significant criticism of the gasoline-powered first generation RAV4s, often called '4.1s', was that they were underpowered, and had relatively poor fuel economy via their 3SFE engines that were designed for earlier Camrys and 1987-1989 Toyota Celica GT, 1990-1993 S-R and Z-R, as well as 1994-1999 SS-I. Later generations of RAV4s, the so-called '4.2s' and '4.3s', have addressed this concern.

The second generation RAV4 went on sale in the middle of 2000, and came in base Edge and upmarket Cruiser models (model designations may vary according to market), in both 3- and 5-door configurations. The main differentiation between the two models was in appearance. Edge models came with unpainted grey bumpers and side cladding, mirrors, and door handles, and featured steel rims. Cruiser models gained body-coloured (painted) bumpers and moldings, mirrors, and door handles, alloy wheels, and ABS brakes. All models came equipped with a brand-new 2.0 litre 4-cylinder engine featuring VVT (variable valve timing), resulting in improved power and torque, as well as fuel consumption. Permanent all-wheel-drive was a feature. Options were ABS brakes (on the Edge), and air conditioning (on all models).

The second generation RAV4 was originally offered in a number of trim levels: NV was 2-wheel drive, while NRG, GX, and VX were permanent 4-wheel drive with differing levels of equipment. It continued on the Corolla platform. Although the RAV4 was available as a two-door in Europe, Asia and Australia, the American model was now only available in a four-door configuration. A 2.0L I4 engine producing 148hp (110kW) and a D4-D diesel engine were available. Some RAV4s came with anti-lock braking system, electronic stability control, air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver's seat, cruise control, a six-speaker CD stereo and power windows, mirrors and seats. A sport package added a mesh grille, hood scoop, color-keyed door handles, a roof rack, silver sport pedals, heated mirrors, gray-painted bumpers and fender flares, and sport fabric seats. Other options included alloy wheels, heated seats, a sunroof and keyless entry. 16-inch wheels were standard; larger tires were available on all wheel drive models.

In late 2003, the RAV4 was given a styling update, improved equipment, and, in certain markets, a new engine. The RAV4's 2.0 litre engine was upgraded with a new 2.4 litre VVT engine, producing 9% more power (120 kW) and 17% more torque. Fuel economy improved by over 2%. The base Edge was renamed CV, and gained standard air conditioning (previously an option). The CV also received painted bumpers, which came in either silver or body-coloured shades, depending on the body colour. In addition, the model range was given a subtle facelift, largely comprising of a new front bumper with circular fog lights.

In 2005, a new "CV Sport" model was added to the range, which included a non-functional bonnet (hood) scoop, giving the RAV4 a more aggressive appearance. The CV Sport model was short-lived, lasting only a year, and was introduced primarily to stimulate sales until the new model arrived in early 2006.

The second generation RAV4 enjoyed enormous success in Australia, where it became the best-selling SUV in the country in 2001, overtaking it's rival, the Honda CR-V, for the first time.

Notably, the second-generation RAV4 had the highest proportion of female drivers among all makes and models in the United States with the possible exception of the Volkswagen New Beetle, according to 2003-04 registration and survey data.

The Toyota RAV4 was completely redesigned for the 2006 model year, on an all-new platform. The 2-door was dropped, leaving Toyota without a mini SUV until the 2009 Toyota Urban Cruiser, which is sold only in Europe. It still has the 2AZ-FE 2.4L four-cylinder engine, which now produces 166hp (124kW) @ 6,000 rpm, up five from the previous year, and 165 lb·ft @ 4,000 rpm. The North American RAV4 is also fitted with the 2GR-FE 3.5 L V6 engine as an option. This engine was later introduced into the Australian market RAV4 in 2007. The new RAV4 topped Toyota SUV sales in the United States for the first time. It is also the first generation of RAV4 to be offered in regular (for Asian and European markets, dropping the spare wheel from the rear) and extended (for North American and Australian markets) versions.

The extended-length RAV4 is larger by 21% in interior volume from the last generation and now has an available third-row seat for two small children (North America only). The RAV4 can still be had in either front-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive in the United States; however, most countries, including Canada, only sell the four-wheel-drive version.

JDM models are X, G, and Sport. The X and G can be ordered with either front-drive or 4WD. The Sport model with over fender is 4WD only.

In Australia, the RAV4 is sold in 4-cylinder base CV, Cruiser, and Cruiser L trim levels, and CV6, SX6, and ZR6 6-cylinder variants. The extended-length RAV4 is sold in Japan as the Toyota Vanguard.

Currently, the RAV4 is produced in two locations in Japan: Toyota's Tahara, Aichi assembly plant, and under contract by Toyota Industries in its Nagakusa, Obu, Aichi plant. Since May 2008, all North American models are built at Toyota's Woodstock, Ontario, Canada assembly plant.

In Malaysia, only the 2.0 automatic variant is available, in a single trim level. This model uses the 1AZ-FE 4-cylinder, in-line 16-valve engine with DOHC and VVT-i. The output for this the 2.0 L RAV4 in Malaysia is at 112 kW (150 hp) at 6,000 rpm with a torque of 194 Nm (143 lb·ft) at 4,000 rpm.

Facelift of 2009

The 2009 year model was freshened in some markets with several changes the most noticeable being a new 4 cylinder engine. Some of the exterior changes include redesigned headlamps, tail-lamps, front grille and bumper, and foglight trim. The Limited model gets a different front grille and bumper cover. The Sport model features a bigger spoiler and red badging along with an option on the V6 to have the rear door without the spare. New features/ options include turn signal mirrors, backup camera (with monitor built into rear view mirror), satellite navigation, smart keyless entry, a push start button, a multifunction meter display, etc. With the option of run-flat tires, there is no spare tire mounted on the rear. Much of the interior remains the same.

In North America, the 2009 RAV4 comes with an all-new 2.5-liter four-cylinder AR series engine (elsewhere, the 2.4 litre engine remains), which is a low-friction design optimized for performance and fuel efficiency. It produces 179horsepower (133kW) at 6,000 rpm, along with 172 lb·ft. of torque at 4,000 RPM (versus 166horsepower (124kW) and 165 lb·ft. of peak torque of the previous 2.4-liter engine). The 2.5-liter engine employs Dual independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), which controls timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts (compared to the intake-only previous 2.4-liter engine). The 269horsepower (201kW) 3.5-liter V6 engine continues.

The 2009 D-4D will be upgraded to 150horsepower (110kW) and 340 Nm. The 2009 2.0 will get valvematic and produce 152horsepower (113kW) and 196 Nm.

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