And I found this oldie but goodie on Jalopnik's sister site OppositeLock from 2015, might as well post it too!
[OppositeLock] My First Car and The Birth of a New Kind of Car
Its not ENTIRELY clear who birthed the Crossover/uni-body SUV market, but if anyone has a stab at the title I think Toyota might. Where did these not car, not trucks come from? Even Car and Driver, in their 1996 review of it, was at a lost with what to make of the funky little...not truck? from Japan (I guess you can sell fruit out of it). In 1994 Toyota took a risk with a new kind of vehicle and introduced the XA10 Chassis RAV4 which featured, for the first time all together I think, a unibody chassis, fully independent suspension 4 wheel drive, high ground clearance and car, not truck, mentality in construction and parts. RAV4, is actually an Acronym that could have, if BMW had its way with naming schemes, been the designation by which all vehicles in the class would be know as: Recreational Activity Vehicle 4-Wheel drive. Just think, instead of crossovers you would call them all RAV's and those weird tall fat 4 door hatchUV's thingies would be called sports activity vehicles (RAV's and SAV's...ewww). As I said, the RAV4 was harldy the first unibody SUV, nor the first car type to have AWD, but it was the first to put it all together in a resultant form we recognize today as the CUV (Compact Utility Vehicle/Crossover Utility Vehicle)
The RAV4 as exists today is a commodity in this ever more crowded segment, a product of market research and trending consumer priorities in the Compact SUV vertical. Or, translated from marketing to English: designed and built to be the least offensive to the most people. I'm not calling it beige, but the the current models favorite ice cream is definitely vanilla.
And while you can hardly blame Toyota for trying to increase or maintain sales in an ever crowded market by researching and building to the fat part of the curve its hardly inspiring. I didn't used to be that way though, The RAV4 used to be cool.
More similarly retro RAV4 musings and analysis at OppositeLock...