Toyota’s small SUV gets more sophisticated
Completely reworked for the 2006 model year, the latest generation of Toyota’s RAV4 is the roomiest yet, with over 20 per cent more interior space than its predecessor. It’s longer, wider and taller as well as offering three rows of seats.
Better yet, it doesn’t have any of the awkwardness that’s often a side effect of such growth spurts.
There are no gangly body parts or mismatched proportions. Instead, Toyota’s designers have managed to maintain the RAV4’s cute-ute look, while adding more sophisticated design cues for an overall sleeker appearance — fitting for a vehicle entering its adolescence.
Under the hood for the 2007 model year, two engines are available. The base powerplant is a 166 horsepower, 2.4-litre, 4-cylinder unit. If you need more punch, a lightweight 3.5-litre V6 delivers a class-leading 269 hp.
The engines are hooked up to either a 4-speed or 5-speed automatic transmission with uphill and downhill shift logic for smooth performance when climbing or descending hills. V6 models are also equipped with a tow hitch and are capable of pulling up to 1,587 kg (3,500 lb).
When slippery road conditions prevail, the RAV4’s advanced 4-wheel-drive system that automatically sends torque to the rear wheels to help keep you moving. A Lock mode allows a maximum torque split of 55/45 between the front and rear wheels at less than 40 km/h.
Traction and stability control are standard on all RAV4s while V6 models also include Hill Start Assist and Downhill Assist Control, which help maintain control while climbing or descending steep grades.
Its more mature look and larger size give the RAV4 more road presence, but a reduced turning circle makes it easier to manoeuvre in tight spaces in keeping with its compact SUV persona.
Inside, there’s more living room than in the previous generation, with increases in shoulder space, rear legroom and cargo room. The rear seats fold flat (headrests in place) with the pull of a lever, exposing 2,074 litres of flat load space. A cargo area remote release makes the task easy when loading gear or groceries. Five-passenger models also feature a under-floor rear storage box in the cargo area.
High quality materials are used throughout the interior, with lots of bright trim to help accent the cabin colours and textures. Useful features include a standard tilt/telescopic steering wheel, windshield de-icer system, an available power driver’s seat, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Four-cylinder RAV4s are offered in base and Limited trim, while the V6 lineup also adds a Sport trim. All models include a stereo/ CD/MP3 player, power windows, locks and mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control, air conditioning (with rear seat heater ducts), a roof rack and 17-inch wheels.
Limited models add several performance style and equipment upgrades.
With prices starting at $29,300 and going north of $36,000 for a loaded V6 Limited model, the RAV4 has grown in price, too, reflecting the added standard features, improved quality and larger size.
2007 Toyota RAV4