Preview: 2013 Toyota RAV4 toyota reviews car previews auto shows 2013 autoshows 2012 la autoshow
2014 Toyota RAV4. Click image to enlarge

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Toyota Canada

Article and photos by Mike Schlee

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2014 Toyota RAV4

Los Angeles, CA – The RAV4 is near and dear to Toyota’s heart as it was their first crossover utility vehicle. It helped set the stage for the onslaught of crossovers that would begin to fill Toyota showrooms. It was a success then, and has been ever since. So, when it came time for a redesign, Toyota did not want to mess with their successful recipe too much and has dipped back into the RAV4 playbook of old. For 2014, Toyota is dropping a few standout features that made the outgoing RAV4 a bit of an oddity in the compact crossover segment; namely the V6 engine and the third row of seating. The RAV4 will now soldier on in its fourth generation with just one drivetrain configuration: a 2.5L four-cylinder engine producing 176 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque coupled to a six-speed automatic.

Preview: 2013 Toyota RAV4 toyota reviews car previews auto shows 2013 autoshows 2012 la autoshow
Preview: 2013 Toyota RAV4 toyota reviews car previews auto shows 2013 autoshows 2012 la autoshow
Preview: 2013 Toyota RAV4 toyota reviews car previews auto shows 2013 autoshows 2012 la autoshow
2014 Toyota RAV4. Click image to enlarge

Like current RAV4s, the 2014 model will be available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive RAV4s will feature Toyota’s first application of Dynamic Torque Control—an advanced slip-and-grip type system that keeps all power to the front wheels unless slip is detected. I say it is advanced because, when cornering in Sport mode, it allows power to be sent to the rear wheels to help enhance cornering performance. It achieves this by detecting steering angle and yaw rate. As well, the all-wheel-drive system can be locked at speeds below 40 km/h giving a proper 50/50 split of power to help trudge through the mucky stuff.

The reason Toyota has dropped the V6 option and moved to a six-speed automatic transmission is to improve the RAV4’s fuel economy. They recognize the trend for more efficient crossovers in the compact segment and have added fuel-saving advances to help further improve the RAV4’s efficiency. These items include improved exterior aerodynamics all around and an Eco mode for the drivetrain settings. This results in official Natural Resources Canada fuel economy ratings of 8.7 L/100 km city and 6.4 L/100 km highway for front-wheel-drive models and 9.1 L/100 km city and 6.8 L/100 km highway for all-wheel-drive models.

This efficiency increase did not come at the expense of vehicle size as the RAV4 is still at the larger end of the compact crossover segment. At 4,570 mm long, the 2014 RAV4 is 50 mm shorter than the 2012 RAV4, but still 40 mm longer than the 2012 Honda CR-V.

The exterior of the 2014 RAV4 is wrapped in new sheetmetal that would fall somewhere between evolutionary and revolutionary. To my eyes I can see styling clues similar to those of the Mitsubishi Endeavour, but I may be in the minority. The vehicle will be equipped with 225/65R17 or 235/55R18 tires depending on what trim is selected.

Preview: 2013 Toyota RAV4 toyota reviews car previews auto shows 2013 autoshows 2012 la autoshow
Preview: 2013 Toyota RAV4 toyota reviews car previews auto shows 2013 autoshows 2012 la autoshow
2014 Toyota RAV4. Click image to enlarge

The biggest news for current RAV4 fans, though, may be that Toyota has finally ditched the rear-mounted spare tire and sideways opening rear hatch door. Now, the RAV4 has a conventional liftgate rear door that opens upwards like virtually every other hatch on the market today. The spare tire now resides inside the rear hatch compartment underneath the cargo floor. Those worried about the relocation of the spare tire eating into cargo capacity, fear not, as the 2014 RAV4 actually increases in cargo capacity to 1,090 L with the rear seats up and 2,080 L with the rear seats folded; an increase of 76 L and 6 L respectively.

Inside, the new RAV4 is bursting with different materials, textures, and surfaces. I am still undecided if I like the new interior, but I can definitely say the new RAV4’s interior is not boring. The top of the dashboard is still hard plastic but the middle section is a nice squishy soft-touch insert. In a very brief sit-down, the front seats felt very comfortable, as did the rear seats. Toyota has spent time improving the rear seating area. Thanks to the deletion of the third row, second row passengers now have more space; I fit in all three rear seats without issue. To help further boost sales, Toyota has included niceties like a standard reverse camera on all models and the ability for owners to set the angle at which the power tailgate opens to keep it from hitting parking garage roofs.

The RAV4 is an important vehicle for both Toyota and Canada (where it is assembled). The RAV4 is currently sold in 150 countries worldwide and Toyota is banking on these latest updates to keep it competitive. Pricing is yet to be announced on the 2014 Toyota RAV4, but should be available closer to launch.




About Mike

Mike Schlee is the former Social Editor at Autos.ca and autoTRADER.ca. He began his professional automotive writing career in 2011 and has always had a passion for all things automotive, working in the industry since 2000.