It is a car that has garnered popularity here ever since it made its debut. Much fancied by ladies, the men too like it and it ranks high on the carjacker’s list in Uganda. Although the most stolen type is the first generation, people still buy it. Now in its fourth generation, the 2013 RAV4 was launched recently at Toyota Uganda.
In 1994, Toyota kick-started the cross-over revolution with the very first RAV4. Launched as a compact three-door model measuring just 3,69 metres in length, the original RAV4 was a radically different animal to what was then on offer in the form of traditional 4x4s. It featured a small engine mounted transversally within a monocoque bodyshell, and boasted an all-round independent suspension.
The compact Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) market was born and the RAV4 success story continues. Available in over 150 countries, a recording-breaking three generations of RAV4 have sold more than 4.5 million units since launch. The new RAV4 represents an evolutionary change-from the cute first generation 1995 model, through the second generation 2001-2005 solid performer, to the third generation 2006-2012 model with its tailgate mounted spare tyre.
This fourth generation new RAV4 comes with a few exterior revisions. The spare tyre has been relocated to a hidden space, beneath the cargo load floor like a grown up car. The side-swinging rear door has been replaced with one that is hinged at the top.
The exterior has been completely re-designed, with a sleeker roofline, bolder character lines and a unified front fascia that links the expressive headlights with the grille and Toyota logo.
The black lower rocker panel covers, bumpers and front and rear fascia promote the illusion that the new RAV4 has more ground clearance than it actually does. Lower ground clearance means a lower centre of gravity –hence more overall stability.
It has been revamped. The interior is where most drivers will find the bar significantly raised. Not only is the dash and centre stack more modern and attractive to the touch, the interior cabin has more space. The dynamic, bold architecture of the new dashboard features powerful upper and lower horizontal surfaces which emphasise the new cabin’s spacious, open atmosphere.
The sophisticated elegance of the new design is further strengthened by the use of high quality materials, soft padding in many areas of occupant contact, crisp trim finishes and new colours throughout. The driving position has been extensively revised for improved ergonomics, greater comfort, better forward visibility and a more engaging driving experience.
The primary and secondary controls are all within easy reach, with steering wheel controls for audio and Bluetooth hands-free phone. In response to the continuing evolution of the compact SUV market and the demand for ever greater fuel and emissions efficiency, the new RAV4 comes with a six-speed auto transmission. The cargo area is deeper, larger and easier to access than in the previous generation.
The new RAV4 builds on the high standards of occupant safety and pedestrian impact protection evolved over three generations of the compact Toyota SUV. With an impact absorbing, multi-load-path body construction designed to help provide occupant protection, the new RAV4 has been engineered to achieve a five-Star rating in the 2013 Euro NCAP crash test programme.
The new Toyota SUV is equipped with a new, whiplash injury reducing seat design, and seven airbags are fitted as standard, including a driver’s knee airbag and twin-chamber front seat side airbags.Vehicle stability control is optional while downhill assist control is a standard feature. The new RAV4 comes at $26,000 (approximately Shs67.4m) to $36,000 (approximately Shs93.3m) but (exclusive of taxes) and depending on the specifications. Globally, Toyota’s next-generation RAV4 was unveiled at the LA motor show last November.