For a long, long time Toyota’s RAV4 was pretty much your only mid-size SUV choice in the UK market.
But how times have changed. What was once a niche has become the fastest growing sector in the car industry.
The RAV4’s formerly lonely outpost is now crowded with the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Tiguan, Hyundai Tucson, Peugeot 3008 and many, many others.
The poor old Toyota was beginning to look a little out of its depth but that’s to be remedied.
Toyota has taken the wraps off an all-new version of the popular SUV. The fifth generation model was unveiled at the New York Auto Show last week, revealing a model that’s more aggressively rugged than the current generation car.
Two petrol engines have been confirmed for the new model, in line with Toyota’s strategy to ditch diesel.
The latest RAV4 is underpinned by the sophisticated TNGA (Toyota New Generation Architecture) platform used in the current Prius and C-HR.
That means the new RAV4 is slightly wider than its forebear, with a 30mm longer wheelbase that should make for both better handling and greater internal space.
Increased use of aluminium means the new RAV4 should be up to 5% lighter despite its marginally increased size.
There will be a 2.0-litre four cylinder and a 2.5-litre hybrid. Both are promised to bring improved efficiency over the existing units.
Toyota has reworked the hybrid model, adding a second electric motor to the rear axle to make the RAV4 four-wheel drive.
The petrol engine will also come with a four-wheel drive system that puts 100% of the power through the front wheels in normal driving to preserve economy, only redirecting power to the rear wheels in slippery conditions.
Thought Toyota hasn’t announced it yet, it seems likely that cheaper front-wheel drive only models will be introduced into the range.
There will also be an “Adventure” model with high roof-rails, wheel-arch extensions, a more aggressive grille, revised fog-light surrounds and model-specific wheels.
Safety tech includes a pre-collision warning system with pedestrian detection, AEB (Auto Emergency Braking), radar cruise control, lane departure warning, and auto high-beam headlights.
New for the fifth generation car are Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) and Road Sign Assist (RSA).
Toyota has not yet released specification levels for the new RAV4 so expect more information on that closer to the car going on sale.
Speaking of which, there is also not yet a launch date but Toyota says it should go on sale in the UK early next year.