Inside, the RAV4 has undergone an equally radical reinvention. The dashboard is a mix of materials, colours and designs that are indeed bold, and come together in a way that I really like. It does look better in two-tone beige-black than two-tone grey-black. Overall, there will be three interior colour combinations and three seating surfaces, dependent on trim level. On Limited Edition RAV4s, there is also the addition of fake carbon fibre inserts – the jury is still out on whether I like them or not. The doors, like the dashboard, also feature a variety of colours and textures that all come together to work in harmony.

2013 Toyota RAV42013 Toyota RAV42013 Toyota RAV42013 Toyota RAV4
2013 Toyota RAV4. Click image to enlarge

The dash itself is finished in hard plastic on top, with soft-touch middle and lower sections. The doors are also hard-touch plastic minus the generous armrest that takes up roughly a quarter of the door. Up front, the seating position is easy to adjust and very comfortable. However, even in top trims, the passenger seat is only four-way manually adjustable with no height adjustment option. The rear seat is also spacious and comfortable, and all trim levels come standard with reclining seats that not only recline the seatback but also adjust the seat cushion accordingly. 3rd row seating has been dropped in the 2013 RAV4 since not enough consumers opted for this feature, and it was cramped while also compromising cargo capacity. Toyota figures if you really need a 3rd row of seats, you can move up to a larger CUV with more overall space like the Highlander.

2013 Toyota RAV4
2013 Toyota RAV4. Click image to enlarge

Content will not be lacking in the new RAV4, with options like smart key with push-button ignition, lane departure alert, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert and a height-adjustable power liftgate available. As well, Toyota has sweated the details by adding nice standard features like an adjustable centre armrest, sunshade extenders, and eight airbags. Their most trick feature, though, has to be the auxiliary air reducer located dead centre on the top of the dash that will blast air to the rear passengers.

The 2013 RAV4 is wider than the outgoing 2012 model, but shorter and not as tall. This does not hurt interior space, however, as it will feature a class-leading 2,078 L of cargo space with the rear seats folded down – more than even the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. The RAV4’s reign as cargo champion will be short lived, though, as the soon-to-arrive 2014 Forester will trump them all with 2,115 L of cargo-carrying potential.

Under the hood, the only engine available at this time will be a 2.5L four-cylinder that is basically a carryover unit from the 2012 RAV4. The engine produces 3 less hp, now rated at 176 hp, and the same level of torque at 172 lb-ft. The big change has to do with the transmission. Toyota’s antique four-speed automatic finally put out to pasture, replaced by a new six-speed automatic, the only transmission available.

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