Friday, August 8, 2008

Toyota RAV4

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.

First generation (1994–2000)

1996-1997 Toyota RAV4 2-door hardtop
1996-1997 Toyota RAV4 2-door hardtop

The RAV4 was originally based on the Corolla platform, and was offered in both two and four-door versions. In the US, a 2.0 L I4 engine producing 120 hp 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.

1998-2000 Toyota RAV4 2-door Convertible

1998-2000 Toyota RAV4 2-door Convertible

One interesting version, the RAV4 EV, was an all-electric 'zero-emission' model offered for sale in low quantities in California. These models came with a 60,000-mile 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. Like most other Toyotas, all RAV4s have earned the reputation of high reliability, and have enjoyed high resale values.

Third generation (2006–present)

2006-2008 Toyota RAV4 Limited (US)

The Toyota RAV4 was completely redesigned for the
2006 model year, on an all-new platform. It still has the 2AZ-FE 2.4 L four-cylinder engine, which now produces 166 hp, up five from the previous year. The North American and Australian RAV4 is also fitted with the 2GR-FE 3.5 L V6 engine as an option. 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) and extended (for 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 (US and Canada only). The RAV4 can still be had in either two-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 base CV, mid-range Cruiser, and top of the line Cruiser L trim levels. 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. However, when Toyota's Woodstock, Ontario, Canada assembly plant comes online in 2008, models sold in North America will be assembled exclusively there (effective May 2009).

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 at 6000 rpm with a torque of 194Nm at 4000 rpm.