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…)

By on November 22, 2016

2017 Honda CR-V/2016 Toyota RAV4 - Images: Toyota & Honda

Only once in the last nine years, and not once since the Ford Escape scored a victory in 2011, has the Honda CR-V failed to top America’s SUV/crossover sales leaderboard.

At its current pace, 2016 will be the Honda CR-V’s fifth consecutive year as America’s best-selling utility vehicle. Better yet, there’s an all-new Honda CR-V arriving for the 2017 model year. (We’ll post a First Drive Review of that CR-V on November 30th. –Ed.)

But Honda has little intention of ramping up CR-V production growth in 2017 simply to match the Toyota RAV4’s rapid ascent. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2016

2016 RAV4 and CamryWill the Toyota RAV4 outsell Toyota’s long-running best-selling car, the Toyota Camry, within the next five years? Nine months ago, Toyota Motor Corp.’s U.S. boss, Bob Carter, said, “I’ll bet you lunch that will happen.”

It didn’t take five years.

To be fair, Carter wasn’t referring to a single month’s results. Indeed, through the first two-thirds of 2016,  the Camry produced nearly 36,000 more U.S. sales — about one month’s worth — than the RAV4.

But in August 2016, for the first time in Toyota’s U.S. history, the Toyota RAV4 was more popular than the Toyota Camry. And the RAV4 was by no means the only vehicle to outsell the most popular car in America. (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2016

2016 Toyota RAV4 SE AWD

“Competent” — it’s one of the least sexy words in the dictionary. Hell, the word “dictionary” is arguably sexier. You’ll find the term next to “cardigan” and “financial adviser,” which are probably familiar words for someone known to be competent.

Competent Guy is that dude in the office who doesn’t cause you any grief. He never fails to complete a task, doesn’t cause any drama, and avoids pissing everyone off. He’s the reliable friend people ask to help them move. It’s guys like this who keep an operation humming along, and their reward is being able to put down roots, grow old, and enjoy the spoils that come from being a respectable member of society.

The Toyota RAV4 is the Lucy fossil of crossover SUVs, and it didn’t get there by making a bad impression. No nameplate reaches 22 years of age by frustrating owners, and you don’t become (and stay) the top-selling crossover by being hard to live with. For volume-hungry automakers, the RAV4 (aka. Competent Guy) is a rolling how-to guide for sales success — do the basics well, avoid controversy, don’t offend with styling, and make a good enough impression during the test drive that buyers take it home after the date.

It’s after the vows are exchanged that Competent Guy starts to show off his quirks. (Read More…)

By on March 1, 2016

2016 Totota RAV4 Hybrid Exterior-003

A few short weeks ago, I was inside a very purple 2016 RAV4 marveling that Toyota’s compact crossover nearly outsells the Mazda brand. My bottom line for that RAV4 read like this:

Why are the RAV4’s sales so high when there are more fun options out there? The reasons can be found in its strong value proposition, a soft ride about which journalists often complain, included scheduled maintenance and Toyota’s reputation for reliability.

The 2016 RAV4 isn’t going to light many souls on fire, but it gives the average CUV shopper more of what they obviously want.

Except fuel economy or performance.

That’s where the first full-hybrid compact crossover since Ford abandoned the Escape Hybrid five years ago comes in.

(Read More…)

By on April 2, 2015

2016-Toyota-Rav4-Hybrid-3

 

And here we have the final debut of the New York Auto Show…a hybrid version of the Toyota RAV4.

(Read More…)

By on March 26, 2015

2016-Toyota-RAV4-Hybrid-rear

Toyota is set to debut a hybrid RAV4. I’m not sure what’s taken them so long.

(Read More…)

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