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Toyota wheels out a new line with RAV4
The Sun-Herald
Monday February 6 2006


With a part-time 4WD system, Toyota's new RAV4 is not quite what it seems, writes JOSHUA DOWLING.



When is a four-wheel-drive not a four-wheel-drive?

This question has been raised again with the arrival last week of the new Toyota RAV4.

One of Australia's most popular compact soft-roaders has switched to a part-time four-wheel-drive system.

When the car's on-board computer detects wheelspin, or the potential for wheelspin, drive is automatically sent to all four wheels for greater traction.

And yet less than three months ago, Toyota made fun of vehicles that did not have full-time all-wheel-drive systems.

A print advertisement for Toyota's medium-sized Kluger wagon, promoting the benefits of permanent all-wheel-drive and apparently having a dig at two-wheel-drive versions of the Ford Territory, said: "All the power. To all the wheels. All the time."

The fine print continued: "Some [4WDs] look like 4WDs, but they're not. But not the Toyota Kluger. It has full-time all-wheel-drive [to deliver horsepower] right where you need it: to all four wheels. Which means more control, more manoeuvrability and more safety. On or off road."

Despite having a part-time all-wheel-drive system, the RAV4, with prices starting at $31,990, is still eligible for the 5 per cent import tariff granted to off-road vehicles. (Passenger cars attract a 10 per cent import tariff.)

Toyota last week held a preview for the RAV4 in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia to demonstrate its genuine off-road ability, even though the company admits few people venture off the beaten track.

Toyota Australia's manager of marketing Peter Evans defended the decision to switch to the new part-time four-wheel-drive system.

"Our system is proactive rather than reactive," he said. "It anticipates the need to send power to all four wheels by monitoring throttle position, vehicle speed and steering input. Hopefully, the system kicks in before you need it, rather than after the wheels start to spin."

He said the new system provided a fuel economy benefit because it was not sending power to the rear wheels unnecessarily. "[A part-time 4WD system] is less of an issue for RAV4 customers because they're less likely to go seriously off-road."

The new RAV4 is powered by an updated version of the previous model's 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, despite the car growing in size and weight. A V6-powered seven-seater version in the US is not sold here.

Unlike other on-demand 4WD systems, Evans said, the new RAV4 could be forced into 4WD mode at speeds less than 40km/h.

"Other brands use a mechanical part-time system and react after you need the traction," he said.

Would the RAV4's new part-time all-wheel-drive system hurt sales?

"Absolutely not," Evans said. "It's not part-time, it's active part-time. It's more intelligent than the other systems. It's the most advanced system we've ever fitted to a Toyota."

He said stability control and traction control would complement the system to make it one of the most advanced active safety packages on a compact soft-roader. However, those aids are only available on the more expensive models.


PART-TIME ALL-WHEEL-DRIVE

Toyota's new RAV4 is not alone when it comes to having a part-time all-wheel-drive system. The Honda CR-V is front-wheel-drive until the going gets rough. Or, at least, that's the plan. The last two occasions Drive tested the CR-V in mild off-road or slippery conditions, the system failed to send power to the rear wheels. We haven't sampled the new RAV4 system yet.

Source: The Sun-Herald
 

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I do not know why the author of that article is having a go at the Rav4.3. I've read many Rav4.3 articles and most of them have been positive. Tons of 4WD's employ the part time system and it can be a good thing. 4WD's with part time system are Nissan Patrol, some Landcruisers, Landrovers, Jeeps and military vehicles.

Having a part time 4WD system can be good because by driving on 2 wheels on bitumen (where most 4WD's live), it cuts down the friction, drag, wear and tear, NVH and it reduces fuel consumption significantly (given today's high oil price). Despite weighing 100-200kg more than the full-time 4WD 4.2, the 4.3 has lower fuel consumption. Now isn't that good?
 

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He is having a go at Toyota Oz for being hypocrites. Since the 4.1 was released more than a decade ago Toyota Oz has always made a big deal about constant AWD and now they have changed.
 

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Mohit said:
He is having a go at Toyota Oz for being hypocrites. Since the 4.1 was released more than a decade ago Toyota Oz has always made a big deal about constant AWD and now they have changed.
As usual, the marketing department and the engineering department are not in sync, as with most companies.

There are advantages and disadvantages for having constant 4WD. But given today's high oil price, it makes sense to adopt a part time 4WD. I wouldn't buy a full time 4WD unless I drive 24/7 in the mud.....or unless the motor is too big for the chassis.
 
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