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It should have been called the RAV4 XXL or the RAV5, something to let people know that Toyota's entry-level sport-utility vehicle has grown up--in a big way.

The RAV4 began life in 1996 as a compact, car-based SUV--a crossover in today's parlance. For 2006 it has been redesigned. The new sheet metal gives it a long nose, low roof wagon like look more in keeping with crossovers than boxy SUVs, though the styling is still more bland than bold.

RAV4 had decent sales last year, 70,518, units, up 200 from 2004. But obviously lots of folks waited for the redesigned version this year as sales in the first four months of 2006 were 47,798, up 113 percent from a year earlier.

Toyota should have no trouble reaching if not topping its target of 130,000 sales for the full year.

Here's the link (you may need to register):

http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/columnists/chi-0605280007may28,0,1998385.column
 
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