By on November 28, 2012

Aside from the antiquated gearbox, Toyota’s next-gen RAV4 is also ditching its third row seat and V6 engine option. The 2.5L four-cylinder option making 176 horsepower. Oh, and the liftgate now opens upwards, rather than sideways. Excuse me, my heart feels like it’s beating too fast…

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68 Comments on “Toyota RAV4 Re-Design Marks The End Of The 4-Speed Automatic...”


  • avatar
    Gleanerizer

    Now accepting wildly inflated offers for my base ’08 with V6 (5-spd), tow package and hitch.

  • avatar
    nikita

    Are they also ditching the outside spare tire carrier with the liftgate change and making runflats standard? The current “Sport” model does that. Or, is the spare now inside, taking room needed for the third row? The vehicle is too small for a third row anyway. Deleting third row and V-6 options are probably good moves.

    • 0 avatar
      Easton

      I think driving any SUV with only 176 horsepower would be torture, especially if you ever hoped to tow anything larger than a canoe or safely merge onto a freeway.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Having had the current 4cyl RAV4 for a rental I can tell you it was far more than adequate in acceleration. My 02 6cylGrand Cherokee only has a bit more power and tows a 5500lb boat more than adequately as well. Do you NEED to tow a house up the side of a mountain at 70mph?

      • 0 avatar
        Tinker

        My Mazda CX-7 seems fine with less hp from a 2.5 liter 4 cylinder.

        Even when merging onto an 85 mph speed limit highway. Fancy that!

      • 0 avatar
        Dresden Slade

        I don’t know that it would be that bad. I’ve got a Subaru Forester with all of 173 horsepower (when new, it’s doubtlessly lost a few with age), and I’ve merged it onto a freeway while towing an overloaded U-Haul. It’s definitely doable.

      • 0 avatar

        My 160hp 4.0 V6 ’95 Explorer only hurts for power at high altitudes or when pulling a 3,000 pound trailer.

        It’s no barn burner, and doesn’t really satisfy the need for speed, but its what I’d call merely adequate. It’ll do 0-60 in about 11 seconds even after 300,000 miles, and will top out at a dizzying 120mph.

        The trick is to get the lethargic engine up to boil before making your attack.

        It makes you plan your moves rather than just guiding the car like most “drivers” who point and pray.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      You assume there will even be a spare. The latest trend in cost cutting is inflator kits, the Elantra has one.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        I would take an inflator kit over runflats any day. Pervasive use of runflats is BMW’s single greatest shortcoming in my book. Higher price, poorer handling, less comfortable ride, what’s there not to love?

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Yes, the spare is now under the cargo area where the 3rd row went.

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    My God look at those wheel openings. The base version is going to look so under-tired as to be hilarious. Unless, of course, they pop on some absurd 18″ steelies.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    This looks sooo much better than the outdated outgoing model.

  • avatar
    BigMeats

    I lack the gene that makes one see that as attractive.
    Looks like it was dredged from river bottom. In Asia.

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    Ewww…that’s gross. I suspect that it will look even worse in a color other than black.

  • avatar
    Skink

    Squint-eyed, underbite front end marks RAV-4′s transition from affinity to its truck line to that of its cars.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    bummer about dropping the V6. That made it way better….and only a very marginal fuel economy hit. I get killing the 3rd row option. But did the V6 really have such a low take rate that they couldn’t keep it?

    • 0 avatar
      Jason Lombard

      Anecdotally, I was just talking with a woman (mid-50′s or so) in the lobby of Enterprise, waiting for a rental car for a trip. She had just been in an accident (other driver blew a stop sign) which totaled her 1st gen Rav4. She had already been down to look at the new ones at the dealership the night before and didn’t like the size (too big) or the price (also too big) of the latest model.

      I’m betting she’s not alone in her opinions and Toyota is trying to get the price back down around $22-23k or so. Also, I can’t see the horsepower being a priority for this demographic, thus the slashing of the V6 option.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      No, the V6 kept people from buying Highlanders and Venzas (and maybe a few 4Runners). This way, people who want the power have to step up to a much more expensive vehicle.

      Toyota has a bit of a logjam in this part of it’s lineup, caused by their choice to sell the LWB RAV alongside the Venza and Highlander. Getting rid of the V6 (and likely the third row) makes space for the Highlander (which sells for more money) and Venza (ditto). It does pinch the Matrix and xB, but I suspect Toyota would rather sell the RAV (which makes more money for them) than either the Matrix or xB.

      I’d expect the xB to either shrink or go away entirely. I’d like to see it complemented by a more offroadish trucklet now that the RAV is a full-bore crossover, but I doubt that will happen.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    For several years the V6 Rav4 was the fastest (0-60, 1/4 mile) of vehicles badged Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeffer

      I just upgraded from a ’98 Rav4 to an ’08 Limited V6, and it is scary fast. Taking a bit of getting used to the increased size, but I am loving it. They kept all of what was good about the Rav 4.1 and improved it.

  • avatar
    TTACFanatic

    So with all these changes does anyone think that the Rav 4 is moving away from having its own platform and will now be based on the Camry/Avalon/ES/Highlander/RX/Venza platform?

    Dropping the V6 and third row would give it’s (maybe) platform mate the Highlander some breathing room.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    This is not directed at TTAC, or the B&B – but the automotive press in general.

    I remember reading stories 10 years ago ripping GM for still having 4-speed automatics in their line up – apparently in the motoring press, if you’re Toyota, and you’re still using your anvil reliable but ancient and fuel economy sapping 4-speed automatics, that is OK. (RAV-4, Corolla, Yaris…)

    Again – just an overall observation, not directed at TTAC, the B&B, anyone who has replied in this thread, or Derek.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Don’t expect consistency out of the automotive press. Most of them are hopeless.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      Agreed. Remember very well the massive discussion over the revamped Malibu for 2004-5 (when two were offered, the ‘Classic’ and the Lego Block); number one point was GM’s hanging on of the four speed auto when Toyota and Honda were light years ahead with their five speeds. However, being a fully paid up member in the “Save the Manuals” club, I could care less how many cogs it takes lazy people to put it in ‘D’.

    • 0 avatar
      thirty-three

      I don’t know what the big deal is. Three-speed automatics are another story. Toyota offered them on the Corolla for the longest time.

      I learned to drive in a Tercel with a 3-speed auto. It was painfully slow. I had to keep the gas pedal on the floor just to keep up with traffic.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m pretty sure that Toyota has gotten the same kind of ribbing for using them in the Corolla, Rav4 etc

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      GM didn’t get ripped for 4 speeds, GM got ripped for 4 speeds in expensive cars and even more expensive trucks.

      Nobody cared what they put in entry level Chevys. Nobody cares now either.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        Exactly. GM was launching “all-new” “premium” Lucernes, Impalas, and DTS in 2006 with hilariously dated engines and 4-speed automatics. Toyota was putting 5 and 6 speed autos in their competitors to those cars around that time. If Toyota was putting a 4-speed in the Avalon, people have the right to bitch, but they didn’t.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The wheel openings look comical but the rest looks very familiar and only mildly different. Losing the V6 begs the question on what the power motor will be if any or is the 2.5 going to be the only choice?

  • avatar
    86er

    “Excuse me, my heart feels like it’s beating too fast…”

    Derek’s getting the vapours!

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Hmm, mixed feelings about this. The 4spd needed to go, even though it was pretty well calibrated. But the V6 hardly had a mpg penalty, and I liked the tailgate-mounted rear tire because it kept the cargo area huge and allowed access to the spare at all times. Reviewers liked to gripe about the side hinged door, but what percentage of buyers actually ever park parallel to the curb? No one at Costco or the suburban grocery store.

    I hope they keep the decent ground clearance and approach angles. The current RAV4 is a great family wagon that can actually get somewhere off pavement.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Approach angles should be better if anything as the car has the same wheelbase but less overhang.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, but it hardly mattered IRL. Granted, I did manage to rip off 2 front air dams (replaced first one for $170, repaired the 2nd one with doublers and stitches), but I blame the flimsy plastic together with my own attempts at taking obstacles too fast. Most of the real damage that I got went right in the middle of the wheelbase, which suggested the lack of ramp angle rather than approach or departure angles. Oh, and also, I collected no damage at the rear end, which is actually longer than the nose on RAV4. The problem is really in the front suspension jouncing too readily, and the cheap design.

        BTW, I have a Wrangler now, which has a very similar front air dam to that of RAV4, CR-V, etc. But that thing is virtually indestructable. I bash it on rocks, I bash it on clay banks, I fill it with mud. It is held in place by 4 plastic tabs, which may be relieving stress. I had a tab popping once, and I pushed it right back with just a crescent wrench. On RAV4, that part is attached by a multitude of screws, and it holds onto the front wheel screen _and_ the flimsy plastic bumper _and_ the tire shield piece. Good grief. Any action on any of these, and the air dam has to transmit significant loads between the other componets. Jeezus. How can Chrysler design a piece of plastic that is 100 times better than the same piece of plastic on a Toyota? Toyota fans, riddle me this.

  • avatar
    russty1

    As an owner of an ’08 RAV4, I thought that the latest Ford Escape design would have made a good 2013 RAV4. Except for those silly fender vents. Even the D-pillar angle was about right.
    I don’t know what’s happening with the designers at Toyota, surely with all their resources, and with a new generation of young and talented and enthusiastic designers starting with a clean slate they could work within a budget and create something that looks and feels good, and not look like it was cobbled together by infighting disillusioned committees drifting on a grimly listing ocean liner. In particular the interior and dashboard of the new RAV4 look awkward.

  • avatar

    If the 4 speed tranny is gone, what is the replacement tranny, hopefully not the 5 speed??

  • avatar

    A lot of consumers didn’t like the old Tailgate, I have had no trouble with mine, it just takes a lot getting used too!!

  • avatar
    210delray

    One downside of having the spare on the tailgate is that it makes a poor bumper. One “love tap” and your tailgate, including the glass, is history.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Looks like Toyota is shadowing the Honda CR-V for now, simple, conservative, something that will age reasonably well, targeted at the fat middle of the market.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    I see that Subaru’s design “aesthetic” is rubbing off on its new sugar daddy. A true “Scud.”

    • 0 avatar
      Wabbit3

      I must agree totally…I had (my ex-wife now “has”) a 2006 Rav4 Limited, 4cyl, awd. It truly was amazing, no mechanical issues other than a bizarre LED radio display that would randomly go away. Really good mileage, plenty of cargo room, what I believe in my limited experience was great handling for an SUV, and some of the best performance in the snow/ice that I have ever experienced. Even with the stock M+S tires. Personally, I really like the looks on the new Sport model sans spare. I can see dumping the V6, as I didn’t opt for it either, preferring Toyotas 4-cyl reliability reputation as well as a bit more mileage (and I can’t afford a boat payment, so towing was out).
      This, however, smacks so heavily of ugly Subie design influence that it was the first thing I thought when I saw it. That front end is almost cladded enough to be a Pontiac product. I’m having a hard time understanding how Toyota is moving the ball forward at all here.

  • avatar
    ixim

    The basic body is unchanged. One of the few current cars that makes efficient use of interior space. A real liftgate makes it easier to load long abjects; a folding shotgun seat would help that, too. More cogs = more mpg here; dropping the V6 helps Toyota’s CAFE numbers, despite the small EPA mpg penalty. Anyone succumbing to the lure of the V6 power used a lot more gas.

  • avatar
    carve

    So, now it has exactly zero to make it stand out from the competition. Without a V-6 or the cavernous cargo area allowed by the external spare, what does this bring to the table?

    The V6 RAV was an awesome segment buster. 100hp extra at a cost of about 1.5 mpg! The external spare and huge cargo hold made it east to stand up a 29″ mountain bike with the front wheel off.

    PS- The Highlander doesn’t have as tall of a cargo area, making bike hauling tougher, and is about the most boring to drive vehicle I’ve ever piloted. The Venza doesn’t do anything the V6 RAV couldn’t do better. No way will I step “up” to one of those now that the V6 RAV is no more. I’ll move to another brand. Looks like I’ll have to spring for an RDX, 6-cyl Outback or maybe the turbo Santa Fe.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Looks like the roving band of “lets reduce the rear visibility” stylists have struck. I consider good visibility part of utility and safety. Gimme some big old rectangular rear windows. Please.

    • 0 avatar

      One of the main reasons I hang on to my 2nd gen Explorer. Big boxy windows, on a largish boxy vehicle, and I can put the rear bumper inches away from any object because I can see out of it.

      Mom’s ’04 Rendezvous? Forget trying to back that thing up in the dark, and hopefully you looked behind it before you do it during the day, and set the outside mirrors to see, as the center mirror is useless.

    • 0 avatar
      bkmurph

      +1.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Toyota was also the last company to offer a 3 speed auto in the ’02 Corolla, yes folks in the 21st century, Toyota still sold a car with a 3 speed transmission, at least they’re consistent.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Doesnt the Rolla still have a 4AT

    Also whoever is selling the unibodies for the Escape & Outlander Sport is making a killing.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The tailgate is a huge improvement, Now if only they would do the same on the Lexus GX.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Not feeling it. Seems like too much of the typical Toyota ‘same old, same old’ that they’ve been doing way too much of lately on their latest updates.

    Honestly, how much longer can Toyota get away with selling mediocre vehicles that are the last to get whatever else the rest of the industry is selling, with little else going for them other than their reputation? Geez, is Toyota modeling their marketing after GM or what?

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I don’t think you know enough about this vehicle to make that kind of assertion. And for most of its run, the current RAV4 was top of class by many metrics, and still is a competitive vehicle. Hardly mediocre. Some trends, like Ford’s “shove a small turbo in everything that rolls” and Hyundai’s eye-watering styling don’t need to be emulated by everyone.

      Your complaint better describes the Corolla, Matrix, & Yaris.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I would guess a version with HSD is planned?

  • avatar
    Angus McClure

    A rear liftgate is not an improvement over a side opening one. Old shocks start to droop and I have had the experience of really cracking my head when I would raise back up. Side openers mimic the old sedan deliveries and work very well. I don’t like having the spare mounted on either one.

  • avatar
    bkmurph

    Ugh. I *hate* the way the cowl is higher up than the front corners of the side windows. The hood, fenders, etc. all need to be several inches lower. In the profile view, one should be able to imagine the hood leading directly into the beltline as a continuous stroke of the designer’s pencil.

    On this mess, it’s as though the cowl is a subduction fault, the windscreen is being subducted into the earth like a tectonic plate, and the massive hood will swell up like a mountain range and obliterate useful visibility for eons.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Being a fan of conservative and neutral styling, I like it. Toyota’s styling originates from design studios in Southern California. I am not surprised people from Detroit have a hate for Southern California styling … the 2 places are so different you would not know they are in the same country.

    Southern Californians also have plenty of negative comments about Detroit styling. That is one reason Detroit vehicles sell so poorly on the east and west coast.

    I suggest Detroit automakers move their stylers to the east and west coast. The world does not revolve around Oakland County. In fact, I don’t think anyone on the east or west coast has ever heard of Oakland County. But, I would bet all of Detroit has heard of LA and Orange County since that is the center of car culture. Not Detroit.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    The big question I have about this Rav4 is the black plastic on the front and rear bumper. Is it durable enough not to be nicked by small bumps in city parking? My 11 Honda Pilot had black plastic which could withstand small bumps. But, my 12 Honda Pilot gets a nick or scratch in the rear black plastic every time it touches something. This really bothers me.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      @jimmyy: Not to mention how that black plastic will look after a few years of UV exposure – I’ve always been suspicious of the use of this stuff as anything other than a subtle push to purchase the “upscale” trim levels, which offer body-colored bumpers.
      Funny how they’ll warranty paint/rust, but not the inevitable woeful appearance of the ubiquitous black plastic (which has started an entire industry unto itself i.e.; Back-To-Black and products like it).
      Oh, and don’t get wax on it, because pulling out one’s own hair isn’t covered under warranty, either.


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