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TOYOTA RAV4 - Series Chronology
1989 - Concept "RAV FOUR" appears.
1994 - RAV4 introduced in Japan in May.
1995 - 4-door Model Introduced in March.
1996 - Introduced in the U.S. in January (2WD added to line-up).
1996 - "Driver's Choice award - Best Mini-SUV" - Motor Week magazine.
1996 - "Best of What's New" - Popular Science magazine.
1996 - "Best New Products - Silver Award" - Edison American Marketing Assoc.
1997 - "Best Small SUV" - Consumer Reports magazine.
1997 - "Automobile of the Year" - Automobile magazine.
1997 - October - 4-door RAV4-EV goes on sale.
1998 - Minor facelift, interior additions +7 more hp.
1998 - RAV4 2-door Soft Top begins production.
1999 - RAV4L models receive optional leather interior and special edition colors.
2000 - 2-door discontinued. RAV4 continues in 2000 available as a 4-door model only.
2000 - October - Interview with 2001 RAV4 Chief Engineer Hiromi Ikehata.
2001 - Introduction of all-new, completely redesigned, second-generation RAV4.
2001 - April - Consumer Reports votes 2001 RAV4 "Top Pick" of small SUVs.
2001 - 2.0 Liter Diesel (D-4D) added to UK line-up in September (4WD/5SPD only).
2002 - New Frosted White Pearl color and monochrome paint for the US "L" Model.
2003 - New Sport Package added to the line-up.
2004 - RAV4 receives a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (2AZ-FE) with 161 horsepower.
2005 - Safety upgrades and Sport model changes.
2006 - 4.3 information coming soon!

What does it mean?
RAV4: Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive.

Where is it built?
All RAV4s are produced at the Motomachi Plant in Toyota City, Japan. (The RAV4-EV was produced at the Tahara Plant.)


Quite simply, the 4x4 market has never been the same since Toyota launched its RAV4 in 1994. From the first briefings which would create its radical styling in 1986 to the appearance of a concept vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1989, the gestation period for this trend-setting sports 4x4 was a long one. Indeed, a completely remodelled car was shown at the Tokyo Show in 1993 and the RAV4 finally appeared in its final production form at the Geneva Show in 1994. It was worth the wait.

Toyota began selling the RAV4 as a 2-door in Japan in May of 1994 (June of 1994 for the UK) and sales were strong immediately. Initial sales estimates were 4,500 units per month, but after 8,000 orders the first month, production was doubled immediately.
The RAV4 featured a 2.0-liter, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine originally used in the second generation Camry/Carina. The RAV4 was available with either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions. It had a full-time all-wheel-drive system, and offered an optional locking center differential.
The RAV4's size, four-wheel drive, wide stance and short front and rear overhangs made for great maneuverability both on- and off-road and in all weather conditions. All RAV4s were designed with safety equipment allowing them to be called passenger cars rather than trucks. Standard equipment included driver's side airbag, adjustable three-point seatbelts and enhanced side-impact protection.
By combining conventional passenger-car elements with the features of a light, off-road vehicle, Toyota called its RAV4 a "new-concept" SUV. The RAV4 provided Toyota and its customers with an attractive entry into the growing sport utility market.

In March 1995 a new 4-door model was introduced. The 4-door was 16 inches longer overall than the 2-door with seating for five persons. Front seatbelt pretensioners were also introduced at the launch of the 4-door and this system was also made available on the RAV4 2-door models in September 1995.

The RAV4 made its US debut in January of 1996, along with a number of enhancements to all RAV4 models which included the fitting of dual front airbags as standard, a high mount rear stop lamp and the 2.0-liter 16v engine was re-tuned for cleaner emissions, less noise and more torque. 1996 also saw the introduction of the 2WD model, which was front wheel drive only.

The 1997 RAV4 saw only minor changes to an already revolutionary product. Changes were limited to revised seat fabric in 2-door models, the availability of a power moonroof in 4-door models, a standard digital clock and larger front speakers on power-window equipped models.

For 1998, the RAV4 had several major changes. Exterior changes included a new grille, front bumper cap, multi-reflector headlamps and jeweled taillights. On the inside, a digital odometer, dual cupholders, revised door panels, a three-spoke steering wheel and new audio systems topped the list. The engine received 7 more horsepower. Four door models also received revised seat fabric.
The 2-door RAV4 Soft Top was introduced in mid-year 1998. The RAV4 Soft Top was based on the 2-door RAV4 and featured a combination front hard top/rear convertible soft top.

For 1999 Toyota once again raised the refinement mark for the mini sport utility segment by offering an optional perforated sport leather interior in its RAV4L Special Edition packaged models. Beginning this year, color-keyed body cladding, mirrors and door handles were standard on RAV4L. Three new special edition colors with matching cladding also became available, including White Pearl Mica, Quicksilver and Black.

During the 2000 model year, the 2-door Soft Top and 2-door Hard Top models were discontinued

For 2001, the second-generation RAV4 was completely redesigned making it a roomier, sportier and more versatile compact SUV. The RAV4ís overall length, width, height and wheelbase were all increased by approximately an inch or more for greater room, inside and out. The exterior was completely redesigned for a more aerodynamic, aggressive appearance. It's powered by a lighter, all-new, all-aluminum 2.0 liter, four-cylinder 16-valve DOHC engine with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence technology (VVT-i). VVT-i helps the engine produce 148 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 142 ft./lb. of torque at 4,000 rpm. The 2001 RAV4 was certified as a low emission vehicle (LEV).
September 2001 saw the addition of the D-4D Diesel engine for the 4-wheel United Kingdom models.

The 2002 model year has standard gray painted bumpers, bodyside molding, (optional) flares on the 4WD and a new spare tire cover. Base model colors are all carryovers from last year, plus a new Frosted White Pearl has been added. The "L" models receive color-keyed bumpers, bodyside molding and (optional) flares on the 4WD.

1989 - Prototype INFORMATION -

The TOYOTA "RAV FOUR" concept vehicle, as it appeared at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show. (Thanks to Tomo in Japan & Nacho in Spain for the GREAT photos!)


UK - 1994 Carsource Road Test at Launch by Anthony Lewis (edited)
Toyota RAV4 GS 3-DR
"It's one of the hottest things in Japan since Sony invented the Walkman. Orders for Toyota's RAV4 are running at nearly nine times what was predicted. The RAV4 is a four-wheel drive runabout with the emphasis very much on fun. Toyota, the world's third largest auto maker after General Motors and Ford, is anxious to woo the younger buyer. And the RAV4 has all the right ingredients.
In Japan, more than 17,000 orders were taken for the RAV4 in the first month , Toyota had been expecting about 2,000 orders. This means overtime and extra shifts for workers at Toyota's Motomachi factory in Japan just to meet the initial domestic demand. If it really takes off here and in the rest of Europe as well, Toyota will need every one of the 400 RAV4s a day that can be churned out at Motomachi.
I spent two days earlier this week driving the RAV4; the inescapable conclusion is that this is a winner. Rather than being a 'Johnny come lately' to the market, the RAV4 sets new standards. Although the idea has been knocking around Toyota's corridors of powers since 1986, it didn't appear in any form until 1989 and then re-emerged as a concept vehicle at last year's Tokyo motor show and then made its debut as a production vehicle at the Geneva show in March.
That length of development time has been well spent. RAV4 takes the idea of combining practical motoring needs with a strong fun and leisure theme into a new era. RAV4 rides and drives like a passenger car and is especially good at normal motorway speeds but has permanent four wheel drive and very good ground clearance. This makes it ideal for those who like to spend their weekends sailing, walking, climbing or mountain biking but don't want to go to the expense of a full-blown, mud-plugging off-roader like a Discovery or Shogun.
Standard equipment on RAV4 includes a driver's airbag but not anti-lock brakes; air conditioning is an option. Both the RAV4 and RAV4 GX are powered by the two-litre petrol engine from the Carina.
There are many neat touches: the twin sunroofs on the GX version can be removed completely and stored upright, clipped inside the back door. All the seats are fully reclined, so it could double-up as an overnight sleeper. Leg and headroom in the back is surprisingly good and the RAV4 is much easier to get in and out of than some others in this class. Toyota GB plans to sell a fairly modest 1,500 in the rest of this year and predict that most buyers will be aged about 35, will not have children and will be making the switch from GTIs. That rules me out, otherwise the queue could have started here."

1996 INFORMATION - (U.S. Sales Brochure)

The RAV4 made its U.S. debut in January of 1996, soon to be followed by a slew of impersonators. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. The RAV4 is aimed at the entry-level sport-utility market. The RAV4 is the most civilized, carlike machine yet in its segment. Sport-utility vehicles are evolving rapidly. Not long ago, they were little more than pickup trucks modified to hold people under a roof. As sport-utilities became more popular as car replacements, they gained the comfort and convenience features associated with passenger cars. For most owners, today's sport-utilities are the equivalents of the station wagons of the past. They are used for commuting, shopping, pleasure driving, and towing. Only a small minority of sport-utility owners ever do any serious off-roading, but four- or all-wheel drive can provide added security in foul weather conditions.
Interestingly, the early and mid-1980s also saw all-wheel drive used in a number of passenger cars. These were designed to take advantage of AWD traction on pavement, not as off-road vehicles. Now, the two streams of design are coming together in a new generation of vehicle that is based on a car platform with all-wheel drive and sport-utility styling. The RAV4 is one of the first of these machines to hit the U.S. market. With a unit-construction chassis and fully independent suspension, it feels and handles like a car. Good ground clearance and tall, sport-utility styling give it the popular look. It is available now in two- and four-door versions with all-wheel drive.
APPEARANCE: The RAV4 in four-door form is every bit a contemporary sport-utility. It has plenty of functionality and style. Its high stance and short front and rear overhangs make it look ready for any off-road situation. Lower body cladding that matches the front and rear bumpers helps give it a rugged appearance and keep scrapes and scratches to a minimum, whether they be from shopping carts or trees, rocks, and wild animals. Sculptured hood and side panels add a civilized touch. The beltline is low and the passenger cabin has plenty of glass. Alloy wheels and large tires complete the package.
COMFORT: Trucks are in the RAV4's family tree only as cousins. Think of it as a small station wagon with extra headroom. Ground clearance is greater than most passenger cars but the RAV is easy to get into or out of. Seat comfort and interior appointments are just what is expected in a Toyota product in this price range: first class finish and materials. The rear seat folds down with a 50/50 split for extra cargo capacity. The rear area has its own dome light, and a side-hinged rear door makes access easy. The climate-control system delivers warm or cold air quickly. All of the typical convenience options are available, including power windows, door locks, and mirrors, and a heated rear window with wiper. The AM/FM/cassette stereo has good tone and radio reception.
SAFETY: The RAV4 has dual air bags and side-impact beams in the doors. Outboard passengers have 3-point seatbelts. The front shoulder straps are height-adjustable on the 4-door model. Antilock brakes are optionally available.
ROADABILITY: One of the goals of Toyota's designers was to create a vehicle with sport-utility style and all-weather usefulness and a car-like feel. Success! Even though it sits higher than a normal car, and consequently offers great visibility over other cars, the RAV4 lacks the top-heavy feel of a sport-utility. On the road its fully-independent suspension makes it composed, nimble, and quite stable. Useful aerodynamics and all-wheel drive combine to keep it planted in strong, gusty winds and pouring rain.
PERFORMANCE: A torquey, 120-horsepower 4-cylinder, 2-liter twincam engine and curb weight under 3,000 lbs give the 4-door RAV4 performance equal to most compact station wagons and fuel economy better than most sport-utilities. It has plenty of power for all city and highway situations. The engine works well with the optional 4-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission. The all-wheel drive system lacks a low range, so extreme four-wheeling is not in the RAV4's game plan, but it should handle dirt roads and easier 4WD trails just fine. There are no snaggable items on the sides, and the mirrors can be folded back out of the way. Ground clearance is reasonable, and, more importantly, all critical parts underneath are tucked safely out of the way. This also provides added security against road debris.
CONCLUSIONS: Is it a car or is it a sport-utility? Does it matter? The Toyota RAV4 is the first of a new generation of vehicles to combine sport-utility style and all-wheel drive with the comfort and handling characteristics of a car.



New fabric debuts on the two-door RAV, and a sunroof is finally available on the four-door. Improvements have also been made by using sound deadening material in the dash area, reducing engine noise in the passenger compartment.

1997: After driving it for a half-year, Automobile Magazine names the RAV4 "Automobile of the Year" in January. In September, they follow up with more RAV raves: "We're still in love with both the concept and the car. It's a perfectly practical and eminently sensible blend of two types of vehicle."

January 1997 - UK Press Release
TOYOTA has added three Edge-strordinary new colours to Britain's favourite 3-door off-roader with the special edition, RAV4 Edge.

Sure to start new high street fashion trends are the three Edge-citing metallic shades - a distinctive Coral salmon pink, strikingly bright Poseidon green and dramatic Morello purple. Equally Edge-clusive are the bright green headrests, door grips and cup holders and blue seat trim on the Poseidon Green model. The Coral and Morello models have red headrests, door grips and cup holders and a grey seat trim. The much praised Edge-sterior styling of the new 3-door RAV4 Edge (with manual or auto gearbox) is emphasised by wide alloy wheels and tyres plus wheel arch extensions. The rear features an attractive stainless steel spare wheel surround with a colour-keyed centre and a smoke-coloured rear roof spoiler. The RAV4 Edge is not Edge-acting on your pocket as on the road pricing starts at £17,020 for the model in Morello with manual gearbox (£18,244 with automatic transmission).

The Coral and Poseidon Green models with their silver-painted wrap-round bumpers, protective side mouldings and wheel arch extensions are priced at £17,413 (£18,640 for the auto). And, with Edge-actly 650 customers sought for the RAV4 Edge, Toyota believes it's not Edge-aggerating to predict how popular this limited edition will be.

A 4-speaker Sony CD system with a handy joystick commander located on the steering column is just one of the practical details of the RAV4 Edge: Twin airbags, Side impact beams, Tilt/slide glass sunroof, Remote central locking, Locking wheel nuts, Rear wash/wiper, Tilt adjustment of steering wheel, Internal adjustment of halogen headlamps, Permanent four-wheel drive, Detachable audio front panel, High mounted stop lamp, Front seatbelt pretensioners, Electric front windows, Handy coloured cup holders, Split folding rear seats, Remote fuel flap release, High ground clearance, Ventilated front disc brakes, Thatcham-approved alarm, Transponder immobiliser.

As an attractive alternative to a GTi or small sports car, the RAV4 Edge is equipped with an enthusiastic 16 valve, 2 litre engine. Its maximum output is 126bhp @ 5400rpm with a maximum torque of 131lb ft @ 4400 rpm. Top speed (where legal) is 105mph (170 km/h) with a 0-60mph acceleration time of 11.6 seconds (12.3 for the ECT automatic).

The RAV4 features permanent four-wheel drive and a lockable centre differential for off-road driving, independent suspension all-round and power steering.

Like all Toyotas, the RAV4 Edge has a 3 year or 60,000 mile warranty plus a year's free membership of Club Toyota which includes a comprehensive roadside assistance service and other motoring benefits. Please Edge-scuse our puns, but the news that in 1996 the RAV4 was the best selling 3-door off-roader for the second successive year (and 3rd overall in the 4x4 sector) has clearly gone to our heads!!

1998 RAV4-EV -

July 1, 1997 - Torrance, CA - Toyota Motor Sales, USA (TMS), Inc., today announced that when its RAV4-EV electric vehicle goes on sale in mid-October to fleet customers, the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) will be $42,000. The vehicle may also be leased for $499 per month with no mileage restrictions.

"This is the next step in a very carefully laid-out plan," said Dave Illingworth, TMS senior vice president and general manager of the Toyota Division. "We began our electric vehicle program with extensive in-house testing, moved to real-world driving with test-fleet partners and are now ready to make production vehicles available to fleet buyers. We fully believe that this is the finest full-electric vehicle produced today."
Toyota expects that the majority of vehicles will be leased rather than purchased. The lease period is for 36-months, with the option of making all lease payments in one lump sum of $17,532 providing a savings of $432 over monthly payments. Incentives and purchase assistance programs of up to $9,000 are available through many local air quality management offices and from Federal programs.
All 1998 Toyota RAV4-EVs will include a three-year/36,000 mile basic bumper-to-bumper warranty, a three-year/36,000 mile battery warranty, a five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty, a five-year/unlimited mileage corrosion/perforation warranty and free maintenance for the length of the lease, or four years on vehicles purchased outright. Sales are expected to be concentrated in California and the Northeast United States, with production scheduled for approximately 700 units between 1998 and 2000.
With four doors and seating for five, the basic RAV4 design offers a level of utility that other EVs are unable to match. All RAV4-EVs will be equipped with split fold-down rear seats, dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, power-operated mirrors, windows and door locks, heated driver and front-passenger seats, adjustable-height front seatbelt anchors, a heated windshield, rear-window wiper and defogger and a heat-pump type air conditioner with timer and pre-heat/pre-cool settings. Rear-seat heaters, a heavy-duty heat-pump and traction control will be optional in cold climates. Addressing the biggest concern with electric vehicles -- range -- the RAV4-EV uses an advanced nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack.
Providing performance unavailable from common lead-acid batteries, this Matsushita-designed and -produced NiMH battery allows the RAV4-EV to travel at speeds up to 79 MPH and provides the vehicle with a combined city/highway range of approximately 120 miles per charge.
For charging, the RAV4-EV requires only a 220-volt, 40-amp outlet. The vehicle uses a conductive charging system and carries all charging components on-board, eliminating the need to purchase additional equipment. With the Toyota RAV4-EV, the future of electric vehicles has arrived.

1998 INFORMATION - (U.S. Sales Brochure)

The Toyota RAV4 becomes the official vehicle of the Schwinn Mountain Bike Team, and the RAV4L makes its debut, offering more choices to incorrigible individualists across America.
The spunky looking, $15,388-$18,708(U.S.) RAV4 enters its third year as a popular model in the growing field of smaller, lighter sport/utility vehicles. The 1998 RAV4 looks sharper. It has a new grille and front fascia with quad multi-reflector headlights and bolder taillights. On the inside, a digital odometer, dual cupholders, revised door panels, a three-spoke steering wheel and new audio systems topped the list. Four door models also received revised seat fabric. Two-door models now are offered with a swing-open window on the rear driver's side.
The RAV4's engine gains seven horsepower and a little more torque for 1998. The standard five-speed manual transmission helps provide the best performance. A four-speed automatic is optional for all models except the two-door, all-wheel-drive RAV4. Estimated fuel economy is in the low 20s in the city and high 20s on highways for both front-drive and all-wheel-drive RAV4 models.
The two-door RAV4 Soft Top was introduced in mid-year 1998. The RAV4 Soft Top was based on the two-door RAV4 and featured a combination front hard top/rear convertible soft top. The RAV4 Soft Top was built with structural braces in the rockerpanels and rear fenders for extra support and rigidity. The U.S.-made top was constructed of double-layered, vinyl-coated polyester with a two-ply substrate and featured durable, lightweight plastic windows. The heavy-duty top was reinforced at all key stress points and was also kink and wrinkle resistant. In the event of inclement weather, the top offered a water management system that funneled moisture away from the cabin.

1999 INFORMATION - (U.S. Sales Brochure)
Cal Lidstone - Gallery Member #280

With the exception of a few new options, the RAV4 sport utility vehicle remains unchanged for '99. New options include leather seats and color-keyed body cladding as part of the existing "L Special Edition" package. Additional new options include color-keyed mirrors and door handles and the alloy wheel option now features a full-size steel wheel spare and soft spare tire cover. Color-keyed mirrors and door handles are also available. Three new exterior colors include Quicksilver, Venetian Red Pearl and Mystic Teal Mica. Discontinued colors include Alpine Silver, Prussian Red Pearl and Sedona Sunset Metallic.
MODELS: RAV4 4X2: Two-Door Soft Top 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic, Four-Door Hardtop 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic; RAV4 4X4: Two-Door Soft Top with 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic, Four-Door Hardtop with 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic
When it was introduced, industry analysts weren't sure how to categorize the Toyota RAV4. Though it wasn't the first one, the success of this mini sport-utility vehicle helped start a trend. Now established as a class, small SUVs are increasingly popular for their relatively low cost, fuel-efficiency, compact size, sporty image and, in some cases, four-wheel-drive systems.
The RAV4 is no longer new and there are few changes for 1999, but it's still a head-turner. Toyota's reputation for quality, durability and reliability has enabled the RAV4 to continue to post strong sales despite new and upgraded entries in its class.
This year, Toyota added an optional leather interior to its RAV4L Special Edition package. All two-door models now come with a soft top that debuted in mid-1998. The folding fabric top provides open-air motoring for back-seat passengers, while a solid sun roof opens above driver and front-seat passenger. The fabric top is of high quality and Toyota has done a good job of minimizing noise levels. The two-door hardtop is no longer available.
The four-door RAV4 presents a more roadworthy stance. It offers some of the versatility of larger sport-utility vehicles, but with less room for people and parcels. The four-door model is 16 inches longer than the two-door and rides on a longer wheelbase. It offers seatbelt hardware for five people. The Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, the new Suzuki Grand Vitara and the Subaru Forester compete with Toyota's RAV4. RAV4 offers the best fuel economy (22/26). It sits in the middle of this group of competitors in terms of size: five inches longer than Sportage, 14 inches shorter than CR-V, one inch shorter than Grand Vitara. RAV4 is near the top for cargo-carrying capacity; only CR-V offers more space. Forester provides the best driving dynamics, but lacks some of the off-road capability.
Two- and four-wheel-drive variations are available. The four-wheel-drive models feature a lockable center differential (on manual transmissions). Even though the RAV4 lacks a low-range set of gears, its ground clearance (7.5 inches for the four-door, 7.7 for the two-door) is sufficient to make light off-road driving feasible. The locking differential gives the RAV4 traction advantages over the all-wheel-drive Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester. Although the RAV4 has been compared to the Jeep Wrangler, it cannot compete with the Wrangler's traction capabilities in really rough going. There doesn't seem to be a consensus on the RAV4's looks, considered everything from cute to ugly duckling to extra-terrestrial.
New this year for the RAV4L Special Edition models is the option of a sport leather interior in addition to color-keyed body cladding (as opposed to standard charcoal) for three new exterior hues. With the split-folding rear seat folded flush, it can handle 57.9 cubic feet of goods. Rear seat leg space is the same as the two-door, which isn't that bad for the vehicle's size.
Powered by a 2.0-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine, the RAV4 comes with either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic.
A number of option packages are available that include a mix of interior and exterior components for customizing. For instance, the All Weather Guard Equipment Package adds a heavy-duty battery, a big 4.5-liter windshield washer tank, a heavy duty front heater and a rear-seat heater duct for a mere $70.
The cockpit is traditional Toyota, offering a sporty three-spoke steering wheel. Unibody construction lowers the step-in height, making it easier to get in and out, yet it carries a higher ride height than a sedan for traversing obstacles and deep snow.
The sloping hood, tall driving position, and generous greenhouse front and rear make visibility excellent. Cloth seats are contoured and comfortable and controls and gauges are well located. The instrument cluster incorporates a digital odometer and dual trip meter and upgraded radio features. Sliding controls operate the ventilation system. Standard are dual outside mirrors, intermittent front and rear wipers and a rear window defogger. Front door pockets provide storage, while dual cupholders are integrated into the lower instrument panel. Four-door versions come with an auxiliary power outlet in the rear cargo area for battery-powered coolers and other accessories.
All major safety bases are covered with dual airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners and force-limiters and side-impact door beams. Adjustable seat anchors are added to the front seats on the four-door model.

2000 INFORMATION - (U.S. Sales Brochure)

After losing its 2-door "hardtop" body style last year, Toyota's pint-size sport-utility vehicle drops its 2-door semi-convertible due to relatively sluggish sales, leaving RAV4 with a pair of little changed 4-door wagons. The 2WD model retails for $16,668(U.S.), while the 4WD model starts at $18,078(U.S.). The four-wheel-drive models feature a lockable center differential (on manual transmissions). Powered by a 127-horsepower, 2.0-liter, twin-cam four-cylinder engine, the RAV4 comes with either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic; the automatic adds $1,050. The base price is a bit deceptive because air conditioning is not standard. To get it, you need to order one of three Extra Value packages. Extra Value Package #1 ($1,547) adds air conditioning, AM/FM/cassette, cruise control, power windows, mirrors and door locks, cloth head rests. That brings the base price for a real-world 2WD model with 5-speed manual to $18,215 -- or $19,625 for a 4WD 5-speed model. To add some sportiness to the looks of your RAV4, you'll need the $2,399 RAV4L Special Edition (Extra Value Package #2), which adds color-keyed door handles, mirrors, bumpers and body cladding, cruise control, alloy wheels and privacy glass to the above. Package #3 ($3,029) includes the above plus leather seating surfaces. Anti-lock brakes, which allows the driver to maintain steering control of the vehicle during panic stops cost extra. Our 4WD RAV4 came with the automatic transmission ($1050); Special Edition Value Package #2 ($2,399); ABS ($630); limited-slip differential ($390). With the destination charge ($480), the price as tested came to $23,027.
The RAV4 remains a visual departure from a crowded highway of look-alike SUVs. The sheetmetal forming its wide body dips downward at the side windows, giving it a muscular, ready-for-action look that is strengthened by an aggressively styled grille and front fascia, a sloping hood with large air intakes, and kicked-up rear quarter panels sculpted around big 16-inch tires on boldly style wheels. A side-opening door dominates the rear; we would prefer if it would swing open away from the curb instead of toward it for easier curbside loading and unloading at the grocery store and airport.
Owners who use their RAV4 for camping or other outdoor duty will appreciate features such as an auxiliary power outlet in the rear cargo area for battery-powered coolers and other gear, as well as four built-in tow hooks. Less hip but equally appreciated features are the full carpeting, dual outside mirrors, intermittent front and rear wipers and a rear window defogger. Front door pockets provide storage, while dual cupholders are integrated into the lower instrument panel. All major passive safety bases are covered with dual airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners and force-limiters, and side-impact door beams.
The cockpit is traditional Toyota, with comfortably contoured cloth seats, well-located controls and gauges, and a sporty three-spoke steering wheel. The instrument cluster incorporates a digital odometer, dual trip meter, and upgraded radio features. All-around visibility is excellent, thanks to the sloping hood, tall driving position, and generously sized windows. Our only complaint is the tailgate-mounted spare and tall rear door, which combine to block rear vision slightly. Visibility out the front is excellent.
A low step-in height makes it easy to get in and out. Rear seat leg space isn't that bad given the vehicle's overall small size, but we did find it cramped getting to those rear seats through the small secondary doors. With the split-folding rear seat folded flush, the RAV4 can handle 57.9 cubic feet of goods, less than of some of its competitors. In all, the RAV4 offers some of the versatility of larger sport-utility vehicles, but with less room for people and parcels.

October 2, 2000

INTERVIEW - Project chief pushed through a newer RAV4
Even though he was working with a proven vehicle, RAV4 chief engineer Hiromi Ikehata developed the second generation from a clean sheet of paper. While the first-generation RAV4 was developed from the Toyota parts bin, the second-generation was to be its own entity. At the vehicle's press launch in Big Sky, Mont., Ikehata discussed its development with Staff Reporter Mark Rechtin. Edited excerpts follow: With the first-generation RAV4, Toyota was proud of how many parts were shared with other products. Is that still the case with this edition? About 70 percent of the parts are new and exclusive to the RAV4. But many things, like mechanical components, the door handles, shift knob, shift lever and other parts, will be used by future models. What other vehicles did you benchmark? Where did you want to improve? The CR-V had more space, so we wanted the new RAV4 to be better that way. NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) has been drastically reduced - I believe it is class-leading, although in a couple years we will have to improve it again. The performance characteristics were already there. Where were some areas of cost savings? The body shell is larger, but it's the same weight. We made many improvements to the stamping and welding process. We reduced the cost of the wiring harness by simplifying the manufacturing process and design. Are there any differences between the U.S.-spec RAV4 and those for other markets? With the engine, some of the emissions regulations are different. The horsepower and torque curves are similar, but the U.S. version has a better and smoother acceleration feeling. Why not offer the two-door version in America? I wanted to offer it here. The styling of the two-door was done by Toyota in Japan and it is fantastic. And the original concept of the RAV4 was as a two-door. But when it comes to size, it is not really suitable for American customers, so probably the marketing people thought it was not such a good idea. The current RAV4 was around for a long time. Have you shortened the model cycle? It lasted almost five years in the U.S., and much longer in Europe and Japan. This one, I don't know how long it will be. It depends on the situation in the class. But I know it's important to keep it fresh. Was anything left out of the new model? I think the interior quality should be better, and the NVH should be better. Right now, they are the best in the class, but in a couple of years a lot of competitors will follow, and they will be even better. Still no low-range transfer case. Why? We didn't consider it because RAV4 is an urban-city off-roader. Customers will be satisfied without it. This is the same 4x4 system that's in the Harrier (Lexus RX 300), so it's been tested.

2001 INFORMATION - (U.S. Sales Brochure) - (Australia Sales Brochure)

(U.S.) All-New Toyota Rav4: Leader For The Next Generation Of Compact SUVS The Toyota RAV4's introduction to the U.S. market in 1996 marked the debut of a whole new concept, and fueled an industry-wide rush to develop uni-body sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
"When it was launched in 1996, the RAV4 was the first of a new breed of sport utility vehicle, a vehicle that was developed before consumers even knew that they wanted it," said Don Esmond, Toyota Division senior vice president and general manager. "Redesigned, re-engineered and refined in every aspect, the all-new second-generation RAV4 was developed for consumers who know what they want - the versatility of an SUV with the comfort of a sedan." RAV4 has been improved in every imaginable category and continues to represent the benchmark for light duty compact SUVs. Its overall length, width, height and wheelbase have all been increased by approximately an inch or more for more room, inside and out. Its aggressive new styling makes a bold statement without compromising refinement and is a subtle hint to the power that lies underneath.
The 2001 RAV4's exterior has been completely redesigned for a more aerodynamic, aggressive appearance. The thick hood and front combination lights with multi-reflectors lamps express a definite presence of an SUV. The arched roofline leads to a spoiler-shaped roof end that creates a side profile with an innovative look. Rear combination lights wrap around the sides and provide a rear view that portrays stability as well as more visibility to surrounding traffic. Overfenders and integrated fog lamps are optional equipment.
The RAV4 is powered by an all-new, all-aluminum 2.0 liter, four-cylinder engine (1AZ-FE) with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence technology (VVT-i). The engine produces 148 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 142 ft./lb. of torque at 4,000 rpm, delivering 21 more horsepower and 10 more foot pounds of torque over the previous generation. The engine weighs approximately 40 pounds less than the previous engine.
A five-speed manual overdrive transmission is standard equipment. A four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission (ECT) also is available. All transmissions have transmission coolers; an air-cooled system complements the five-speed manual and water-cooled systems accompany the four-speed automatics.
RAV4 delivers a compliant ride and crisp handling. The RAV4 sits on front independent MacPherson struts with L-shaped control arms and stabilizer bar. The rear suspension features a double wishbone coil spring independent suspension with trailing arms and low-pressure nitrogen-filled shock absorbers and stabilizer bar.
Softer spring rates, larger bushings, and longer suspension stroke all improve overall ride quality. Steering feel and response have been heightened by RAV4's rack and pinion power steering. A wheelbase of 98.0 inches contributes to a comfortable ride as well as an abundance of rear seat legroom.
The all-new RAV4 has 10.7-inch front ventilated disc brakes with 9.0-inch rear drums. A four-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) also is available.
ABS with EBD adjusts the braking force of the rear wheels in accordance with the load fluctuations, thereby assisting braking performance in different driving conditions.
RAV4 has an impressive list of standard active and passive safety features that include: 3-point automatic locking retractor (ALR) and emergency locking retractor (ELR) seat belts on all passenger seating positions, with ELR only on the driver's belt front seat belts with pretensioners and force-limiters a dual front airbag supplemental restraint system (SRS) and side-impact door beams. The optional power windows feature auto up/down with pinch protection on the driver's side window. An immobilizer that enhances the vehicle's theft deterrence performance is available. A seat construction that incorporates the Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) concept has been adopted to help lessen the impact to occupants during a low-speed rear-end collision. For smaller children, there are child seat anchor brackets that meet the International Standards Organization (ISO) standards, and also tether brackets to accommodate child restraint seats.
The RAV4 also has been styled to appeal to the sense of sight as much as the sense of touch. The instrument panel, air registers, audio system and air conditioner have been functionally laid out and are accentuated by metallic trim and plated screws for a durable appearance. The sporty theme is apparent throughout the vehicle, from metal rings around each three-dimensional white gauge to metallic plates around radio and HVAC controls to the gear shifter. HVAC and radio controls are carefully positioned so that they are easily reached by both driver and front passenger. The available moonroof has adopted an ultraviolet (UV) reduction feature that lessens the entry of UV and infrared rays and results in a cooler cabin.
The interior of the 2001 RAV4 is more spacious than ever, offering 42.4- and 32.6-inches of front and rear legroom, respectively. The redesigned passenger cabin with 41.3 inches of front headroom allows for easy ingress and egress. There are more seating configurations for comfort and convenience. There is ample room for five passengers and increased cargo volume of 29.2 cubic feet. The 50/50 split bench rear seats have a slide, tumble, recline and removable feature for 68.3 cubic feet of cargo space.
Small details throughout the cabin make it evident that passenger convenience is thoroughly addressed. A three-spoke energy-absorbing urethane tilt steering wheel, similar to ones found in performance sedans, provides a comfortable grip. There are two adjustable front cup holders that accommodate virtually anything from small 12-ounce cans to larger water bottles, in addition to two rear cup holders, dual sunvisors with mirrors and extensions, driver's side footrest and adjustable shoulder belt anchors for front passengers. A garage door opener compartment has been added as standard equipment. Coat hooks are provided on rear assist grips, a power outlet in the center console and one in the cargo area accommodate small electronic accessories.
Storage space is abundant throughout the vehicle. There are storage compartments on both sides of the cargo area, an area under the cargo floor that keeps items out of sight, a net pocket on the cargo door, a change holder near the center console, a small bin to accommodate miscellaneous items, pockets in all four doors and a padded storage area under the steering wheel holds a pair of sunglasses.
Available equipment includes four-wheel anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, power moonroof, privacy glass, roof rack, rear spoiler, keyless entry, split 5-spoke alloy wheels and 5-spoke alloy wheels with larger tires.
The "L" package delivers the highest level of comfort and convenience. The package includes air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM/cassette/CD with six speakers, power door locks, power windows, power color-keyed heated outside mirrors, color-keyed door handles and hard spare tire cover, integrated fog lamps, painted bumper and protective door molding, privacy glass, tonneau cover, carpeted floor mats and special "L" badging.
New interior and exterior color combinations magnify the RAV4's appearance and intensifies its sporty image. New colors for 2001 are Titanium, Impulse Red, Vintage Gold, Rainforest Pearl and Spectra Blue Mica. Carryover colors include Natural White and Black. In addition, available interiors include gray fabric or leather trim and new for 2001, oak fabric trim.
Toyota's 36-month/36,000-mile basic new vehicle limited warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month limited warranties are available and cover powertrain components for 60,000 miles and corrosion perforation with no mileage limitation. Toyota dealers have complete details on the limited warranty.

2001 DIESEL INFORMATION - (Full June 29, 2001 Press Release)


Toyota is to extend the line-up of its top selling RAV4 Sports Utility Vehicle with the launch of diesel-engined versions for the first time. The RAV4 D-4D exploits the very latest Toyota high pressure, common rail diesel technology and will be available in both three and five door body styles in the UK from September, 2001.
The new versions of the RAV4 will be fitted with the latest generation 2.0-litre, Toyota D-4D common rail diesel engine. This develops 114bhp (85kW) at 4,000rpm and offers constant torque of 250Nm across the power band from 1,800rpm to 3,000rpm. Power has been increased by 5bhp over the previous 2.0-litre D-4D engine used on Avensis saloon with the fitment of a variable nozzle turbocharger. Meanwhile, harmful emissions have been decreased with the addition of cooling to the exhaust gas recirculation system. The new RAV4 D-4D complies with European Step III emissions limits.
The high torque output and low fuel consumption of the D-4D engine adds to the impressive list of features for the RAV4 - the fashionable Sports Utility Vehicle which is equally happy either on or off-road.
Fuel consumption is outstanding - 39.8mpg for both the three and five door models on the combined European cycle. Yet performance is still excellent - top speed of 106mph and acceleration from rest to 62mph in 12.1 seconds. The new diesel-engined versions of RAV4 will be available only with full-time four-wheel drive and a five speed manual gearbox.

2002 INFORMATION - (U.S. Sales Brochure)
2002 Silver Limited 2002 Blue Limited

The RAV4 was completely redesigned last year and offers minor exterior enhancements for 2002. US base models have standard gray painted bumpers, bodyside molding, (optional) flares on the 4WD and a new spare tire cover. Base model colors are all carryovers from last year, plus a new Frosted White Pearl has been added. The 2002 "L" models feature a new eye-catching monochrome look (the rest of the world enjoyed this last year!). This new monochrome "L" paint design includes color-keyed bumpers, bodyside molding and (optional) flares on the 4WD. The "L" is available in Rainforest Pearl (Green), Spectra Blue Mica and the new Frosted White Pearl, in addition to the carryover Black and Titanium Metallic (Silver). RAV4ís MSRP starts at $16,525 for the 4x2 with five-speed manual transmission. The MSRP for the 4x4 model with automatic transmission will be $18,975. RAV4 prices have increased by a moderate $160, or 0.9 percent above last yearís prices.


The RAV4 remained unchanged for 2003, with the exception of a newly available Sport Package which added a more aggressive exterior appearance and many interior amenities.


The RAV4 enters 2004 with significant exterior and interior changes. Exterior changes include color-keyed back door handle, a new front bumper, headlights, grille, fog lights, tail lamps and spare tire cover designs. The 2004 RAV4 is offered in five new colors - Salsa Red Pearl, Super White, Everglade Metallic, Savannah Metallic, and Flint Mica. A new warm silver color is used on bumper molding, over fenders and spare tire cover for Natural White and Savannah Metallic models. RAV4 also receives a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (2AZ-FE) that puts out 161 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft. of torque. Vehicle Stability Control with Traction Control and Brake Assist is now standard, along with Anti-lock Brakes and Electronic Brake-force Distribution. Optional safety equipment includes first- and second-row side curtain airbags and front side airbags.


A tire-pressure monitor and all-disc brakes were installed, and the suspension and steering were retuned. Toyota's Star Safety System became standard, which includes Vehicle Stability Control, traction control, and antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. The optional Sport Package has been enhanced with an exclusive metal-mesh grille, silver sport pedals and newly available fog lamps.

2006 INFORMATION - Under Construction
2007 INFORMATION - Under Construction

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