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Toyota introduces 4th gen RAV4; discontinues V6 option as segment moves towards more fuel efficiency

2013 RAV4 Click to enlarge.

The all-new fourth-generation 2013 RAV4 crossover SUV made its world debut at the 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show. In redoing the RAV4, Toyota discontinued the optional V6 engine of the previous-generation; the new RAV4 only features Toyota’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which will produce 176 hp (131 kW) at 6,000 rpm and 172 lb-ft (23 N·m ) of torque at 4,100 rpm.

Replacing the previous four-speed automatic will be a six-speed transmission with Sequential Shift. First and second gear ratios will be optimized for around-town performance. To keep engine revs lower at highway speeds and enhance fuel mileage, fifth and sixth gears will be overdrives.

The previous V6 option will be discontinued because the segment is moving towards more fuel efficiency…and a midsize crossover like Highlander is satisfying those who need more power.

—Bill Fay – Toyota Division Group VP & GM, Toyota Motor Sales USA

RAV4 front-wheel-drive models have received EPA-estimated fuel efficiency ratings of 24 mpg city/31 highway (9.8 and 7.6 l/100km, respectively), while all-wheel-drive models are EPA-estimated at 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway (10.7 and 8.1 l/100km, respectively). A new Eco mode is designed to promote more efficient driving thus helping to enhance fuel efficiency.

As a comparison, the 2012 FWD RAV4 with 2.5L engine was EPA-rated at 22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway; the AWD version carried a 21 mpg city, 27 mpg highway rating.

Toyota introduced RAV4 in 1994 as the world’s first crossover SUV.
RAV4 came to the US market in 1995; Toyota has since sold more than 1.7 million units of the crossover SUV in the US. Of those, 80% are still on the road.
For Toyota, noted Bill Fay, RAV4 eventually led to the Highlander midsize crossover; the industry has followed with about 45 crossover-SUVs on the market today, he added.

The new RAV4 will provide a more dynamic drive, with new technologies such as a Sport Mode with Dynamic Torque Control AWD, enhancements in suspension performance, and optimized electric power steering. The spring rates have been enhanced, and the shock absorbers have been optimally tuned to help the vehicles handling characteristics.

RAV4 has a MacPherson strut front suspension, double-wishbone rear suspension and four-wheel disc brakes. RAV4 will be available in three grades: LE, XLE and Limited. The LE will ride on 17-inch steel wheels, XLE will feature 17-inch alloys, and Limited will be equipped with 18-inch alloys.

In both front- and all-wheel drive RAV4’s new Sport Mode sharpens shift timing, throttle response and steering response. When down shifting the RAV4 six-speed automatic transmission in “S” Mode, engine revs rise with a clearly audible “blip,” adding to the driving experience.

All-Wheel Drive models will be the first Toyotas equipped with Dynamic Torque Control. When turning into and through a corner, DTC sends power (THe to the rear wheels to help enhance cornering performance, detecting steering angle and lack of yaw rate in Sport Mode (and detecting lack of yaw rate in Normal and Eco Mode).

Dynamic Torque Control has three different drive modes: Auto, Lock and Sport. In Auto Mode, RAV4 delivers power primarily to the front wheels under most driving conditions, switching automatically to AWD only when needed. By only engaging the rear axle and delivering power to the rear wheels when needed, Auto Mode helps enhance fuel efficiency and reduce drivetrain wear.

In Lock Mode at lower speeds, RAV4 essentially has a full-time AWD system with power delivered to all four wheels. At speeds below approximately 25 mph (40 km/h) in Lock Mode, up to 50% of engine power is sent to the rear wheels, enhancing traction and helping RAV4 “dig” through sandy or muddy conditions. Lock Mode reverts to Auto Mode when vehicle speed passes approximately 25 mph.

As on the front-drive RAV4s, Sport Mode sharpens shift timing, throttle response, and steering response. In RAV4 with AWD, Sport Mode has additional benefits. It can provide smooth and nearly instantaneous torque transfers between the front and rear wheels to help enhance cornering performance. Under certain conditions, Sport Mode can automatically deliver up to 50% of engine power to the rear wheels.

In Sport Mode, the AWD system also can apportion power based on input from the steering angle and yaw rate sensors of the Vehicle Stability Control system. When turning into and through a corner, power is sent to the rear wheels to maximize traction available at each of the four corners of the vehicle. Under braking in a straight line in Sport Mode, power delivery to the rear wheels can be momentarily suspended to best leverage the benefits of ABS and VSC.

Following body-engineering principles debuted in the 2012 Camry and 2013 Avalon, RAV4’s body structure will include high-strength steel to help achieve several significant goals, including a robust and stiff platform that enhances steering and handling precision, and a body structure that is both strong and light. RAV4 engineers used several grades of high-strength steel to form key structural components in the roof, rocker sills, floor, engine compartment and door frames. The weight savings were in part invested in sound deadening materials and an acoustic windshield, helping to create a quiet passenger cabin.

Driver assistance. The Limited grade will offer an available Blind Spot Monitor system (BSM). It can be turned off with a dashboard switch. When the system detects a vehicle in the adjacent lane, it alerts the driver with a blinking light indicator in the side mirrors. If the turn signal is on when there is a vehicle in the blind spot of the driver’s intended lane, the indicator on the corresponding mirror will warn the driver with a solid light.

The available Blind Spot Monitor incorporates Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), which uses the Blind Spot Monitor radar sensors at the lower rear bodywork of the vehicle. When backing up, the RCTA senses vehicles approaching from either direction and provides an audible warning combined with a flashing indicator in the appropriate outside mirror.



V6 to I4: A logical trend in this segment. Downsizing and downspeeding with a smaller I4 (e.g. as BMW X3) would be even better.


Is Toyota copying Hyundai with I4 instead of V6?

This I4 is still a gas guzzler and I agree with Peter that it could have been further downsized.

An HEV/PHEV version could address the fuel consumption?


As a comparison, the 2013 FWD Buick Encore (a similar sized crossover SUV) with 1.4L turbo engine is EPA-rated at 25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and the AWD version is EPA-rated at 23 mpg city, 30 mpg highway.


Buick Encore
1.4L I4, 16 valves, 138 hp @ 4900 rpm
Turbo (Yes/No) Yes
6 speed automatic transmission
25 mpg city / 33 mpg hwy
Curb Weight AT 3190
Wheelbase 100.6

I guess you could think of the Encore as a Cruze SUV.

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