By on February 7, 2019

Image: Toyota

After last year’s Camry and Avalon surprise, it should come as no shock that Toyota’s keen to expand TRD branding beyond its body-on-frame trucks and SUVs. Frankly, the automaker ran out of BOF vehicles to tune for the trail.

Enter the RAV4, redesigned for 2019 and still no one’s idea of a hardcore off-roader. While that impression may be valid, Toyota’s at least making an effort to turn up the brawn on the family-friendly crossover. (Read More…)

By on November 21, 2018

2019 Toyota RAV4

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 wouldn’t, at first glance, be my first choice for a run down famed California Highway 1 from just south of Monterey to the famed Bixby Bridge and back.

It probably wouldn’t be yours, either.

So I was pleasantly surprised when a mid-morning coastal ride in the RAV4’s Adventure trim showed me something I’d not seen from a RAV4 before — a personality. Not to mention on-road manners that were quite good by crossover standards. I already had the review written in my mind before I even swapped seats with my drive partner. Before long, however, I was reminded that snap judgments are often wrong.

(Read More…)

By on July 16, 2018

2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

I may be an avowed sedan stan, but I do get the appeal of crossovers. Especially small ones. Credit/blame me for being an urbanite, I guess, but I understand the appeal of a hatchback vehicle that can swallow cargo, be street-parked with ease, and has good visibility due to a tall ride height.

Sure, crossovers may not be my cup of tea. But I get why so many of my neighbors drive one.

Which is to say, I liked the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid more than I expected I would.

That’s in part because the RAV4 seems to stand for “generic yet reliable and popular crossover.” Odd, angular styling hasn’t helped it stand out much from the crowd.

Crossovers are meant to convey people and cargo about town with ease, and that’s the RAV4’s specialty. Looks aside, it blends because it’s supposed to.

(Read More…)

By on April 2, 2018

The RAV4 has quickly become Toyota’s most important vehicle. While the Corolla still trumps it in overall global volume, the small crossover has made a ridiculous amount of headway over the past decade. Prior to the recession, domestic sales of the RAV4 just barely surpassed 70,000 units per year. Then, after the introduction of the model’s third generation in 2006, volume suddenly doubled — progressing to 2017’s all-time high of 407,594 deliveries.

Still, Toyota thinks it can further broaden the model’s appeal. It wants to see more men behind the wheel of the redesigned 2019 model that debuted at the New York International Auto Show last week. The recipe involves a more butch design, added power, an upgraded all-wheel drive system, and new trim levels giving a nod to sporting aspirations. Meanwhile, an updated interior provides more space for manspreading and big rubbery knobs some gentleman find totally irresistible.  (Read More…)

By on March 13, 2018

Toyota is updating the insanely popular RAV4 for the 2019 model year, which means it may be able to leave the shadow of the much newer Honda CR-V. That’s not a knock against Toyota, as the company offers a serviceable compact crossover that people seem to really love. In fact, the brand sold 407,594 RAV4s in the United States last year while Honda only moved 377,895 CR-Vs.

But the high-volume RAV4 is getting on in years. When Honda introduced the updated CR-V, the Toyota was already five years old and beginning to look a little dated. Fortunately, a fifth-generation model is being readied for the 2018 New York Auto Show. Toyota even issued a shadowy teaser image to whet our appetites.

While the shape doesn’t appear to be radically different from the current crossover, it’s much more SUV-like overall. Toyota is definitely moving the model’s styling in a new direction. Sadly, the backlit image obscures much of the vehicle’s finer features — making a detailed assessment next to impossible. Fortunately, we’ve utilized high-end photo manipulation software to boost the brightness and give you a better look at the upcoming RAV4.  (Read More…)

By on February 15, 2018

A guest showed up at the apartment yesterday, ready and prepared for when things got hot. No, stop thinking that, you weirdos — it was my landlord. He was replacing my smoke detectors. God.

Nice guy, I should point out, certainly the best landlord I’ve ever had. Anyway, as tends to happen with this fellow, we got to talking about cars. Also per the norm, he found himself on the fence regarding a purchasing dilemma — one that’s no doubt familiar to many readers.  (Read More…)

By on January 25, 2018

Image: Brian Williams/SpiedBilde

Profitable as home water delivery in the desert, Toyota’s RAV4 compact crossover performs an increasingly important function in the division’s lineup. As passenger car sales fall, vehicles like the RAV4 compete in the most lucrative and hotly contested segment in the auto industry. Some 407,594 Americans took home a RAV4 last year. Five years earlier, that sales figure stood at 171,877.

Given the model’s impact on the company’s fortunes, messing with a good thing could be risky, just as standing still could lead to a drop-off in consumer interest. For the next-generation RAV4, due as a 2019 model, Toyota’s not playing it safe. The model pictured here goes in a styling direction we’ve seen before, though not on a production model. (Read More…)

By on November 13, 2017

Image: 2002 Toyota RAV4 EVThe first-generation Toyota RAV4 arrived on the market at the beginning of the compact crossover boom. While almost all first-generation models had four cylinders under the hood, there were exceptions. If you were fortunate enough to live in the People’s Republic of California, you could pony up for the electric version and show all your neighbors how conscientious you were. But that’s only part of the story.

The rise and fall of the RAV4 EV is an interesting historical aside, because it shows you exactly what corporate treachery can do.

(Read More…)

By on October 30, 2017

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid - Image: Toyota

Even though it represents a small slice of the model’s overall volume, Toyota owes a lot to the hybrid version of its top-selling RAV4 compact crossover. Without it, the RAV4 wouldn’t actually be the United States’ top-selling compact crossover.

Through the end of September, Toyota sold 36,352 hybrid variants, pushing the RAV4 nameplate ahead of the Nissan Rogue/Rogue Sport family. Sales of the hybrid model are up 10 percent this year. Realizing it has a good thing on its hands, Toyota seems eager to get more RAV4 Hybrids into the hands of green-car shoppers looking for more room to go with their fuel economy.

The automaker is now planning a new entry-level trim for the 2018 RAV4 Hybrid. (Read More…)

By on October 19, 2017

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid - Image: ToyotaFor five consecutive years between 2012 and 2016, the Honda CR-V has been America’s most popular utility vehicle.

In fact, the CR-V has topped America’s SUV/crossover sales charts in nine of the last 10 years, a streak of dominance that began in 2007.

It appears increasingly likely in 2017, however, that the Honda CR-V’s streak will be broken by the Toyota RAV4. Thanks to 20-percent year-over-year growth through the first three-quarters of 2017, the RAV4 leads the CR-V by more than 31,000 sales and the Nissan Rogue/Rogue Sport by more than 15,000 sales with scant time remaining for the RAV4’s rivals to make up the gap.

The difference maker? Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid. (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2017

2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure - Image: ToyotaThe allegedly rugged and especially outdoorsy version of America’s best-selling utility vehicle will be priced below the top-of-the-range for its debut model year. The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure starts at $28,695, according to CarsDirect, which places the higher, more tow-ready RAV4 above the SE but below the XLE in Toyota’s compact crossover lineup.

Toyota has already sold 269,835 copies of the RAV4 in the United States through the first eight months of 2017, easily a record start for the RAV4 that appears destined to fulfill Toyota’s forecasts by cresting the 400,000-sale marker by the end of the year. The RAV4 Adventure, Toyota predicts, will generate 40,000 annual sales, though it will surely be stealing some of those buyers from other parts of the RAV4 lineup.

The RAV4 Adventure does not, however, come standard with all-wheel drive. Yet unlike other RAV4 variants, where the cost of all-wheel drive ranges from $915-$1400, the RAV4 Adventure’s optional all-wheel drive will add just $700 to the MSRP, CarsDirect says. (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2017

2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure - Image: ToyotaIn late 2015, Toyota revealed that the automaker’s increasingly popular RAV4 would be increasingly leaned upon for major U.S. sales volume.

As of five years ago, Toyota USA had never sold more than 200,000 RAV4s on an annual basis. Toyota didn’t touch the 300,000 marker until 2015.

But the goal set in 2015 was loftier: 400,000 U.S. sales of the RAV4 in 2018. An SE trim level helped. Then the RAV4 Hybrid became a real success. Toyota sold 352,154 RAV4s in 2016 and is on track for 380,000 sales in 2017.

What will put the Toyota RAV4 over the hump?

If all goes according to plan, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure that goes on sale in September won’t be a mere oddball offshoot. (Read More…)

By on May 10, 2017

2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Palatial Ruby Front Quarter, Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn

America’s insatiable crossover thirst has made the Nissan Rogue — a relative newcomer to the segment — a sales juggernaut and a top rival to the likes of the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

As summer approaches, two of those vehicles are undergoing a sales strategy shift to better position the models against each other. No, one of the models isn’t the new-for 2017 CR-V. Nissan and Toyota, however, hope to draw in more customers by tweaking prices and content on the Rogue and RAV4, though the two automakers are going about it in very different ways. (Read More…)

By on February 16, 2017

2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure Trail - Image: Toyota USARidicule it if you must, but the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Adventure gives the people more of what the people want.

Yes, consumers are buying utility vehicles for reasons related to hatchback practicality, all-wheel-drive availability, and peer review equivalency. But they’re also buying SUVs and crossovers — more often than cars now — because they sit up high.

And the RAV4 Adventure sits up a little higher. Improved towing capacity, black wheels, more black cladding, and “dirt-inspired styling” have, however, led Toyota Canada to call the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Adventure the Toyota RAV4 Trail.

Yes, Trail — a name Toyota off-road enthusiasts will know well. Why isn’t Toyota using the Trail name in the United States?

Because the Trail, my friends, has ended. (Read More…)

By on February 9, 2017

2018 toyota rav4 adventure

No longer worried about being eaten by wolves, humans have developed a desire to carefully reintroduce a little excitement into their lives now and again. Sometimes, just the illusion of excitement is sufficient.

The compact crossover crowd isn’t exactly a pulse-quickening segment, so the 2018 Toyota RAV4’s Adventure trim, exposed Thursday at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, didn’t need to do backflips to stand out. The Adventure is essentially an appearance package with some tow prepping performed at the factory. However, Toyota’s current hit-or-miss styling seems to have made its mark on the RAV4, and is further improved by trim-specific upgrades both inside and out. (Read More…)

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