Despite a slight overall weight gain, Toyota claims the 2013 RAV4 will hit 100 km/h in 8.9 seconds compared to 10.2 seconds for the outgoing four-cylinder model.

Like the old RAV4, the 2013 will be available in both front-wheel drive (FWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) versions. Three drive modes will be available: Sport, Regular and Eco. In Sport mode, the engine will blip downshifts when decelerating and adjust the AWD system to split power 90 percent to the front wheels and 10 percent to the rear wheels. This up from the RAV4’s standard operating procedure of sending 100 percent of power to the front wheels until slip is detected. If slip is detected, up to 50 percent of the engine power can be sent to the rear wheels in all modes. There is also a ‘Lock’ mode that sets AWD power distribution to an even 50/50 split front to rear. Lock mode will only work at speeds up to 40 km/h.

On the road, power is adequate and all this vehicle really needs. It feels very similar in performance to our ex-long-term 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek. The steering is light but not sloppy while the suspension is solid and feels planted. The ride is about average in harshness as I could feel large bumps make their way through the cabin, but smaller road imperfections were soaked up with ease. I know ‘car-like drive’ is an overused cliché, but I can think of no better way to describe the new RAV4.

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2013 Toyota RAV4. Click image to enlarge

The engine is fairly quiet at operation, as is wind noise. Just like the exclusion of the third-row seats, Toyota has dumped the RAV4’s V6 option because of low uptake; Toyota was quick to point out that rest of the market was dumping V6 engines in compact crossovers for the same reason and if you really need a V6 engine in your crossover, there is, again, still the Toyota Highlander. But this doesn’t mean the RAV4 will be powered exclusively by the 2.5L for long. When asked about any future engine options, Toyota hinted there may be one on the horizon, but would only commit to saying “keep an eye on the Auto show circuit.” Don’t expect a turbocharged engine or diesels, though; think more along the lines of a Hybrid – the Camry Hybrid’s drivetrain makes perfect sense in this application. As much as I wish we could get the European 2.0L diesel engine in North America, we as North Americans don’t buy diesels en masse. Toyota states that a Hybrid makes more sense as they have proven hybrid technology and people actually buy them.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Toyota hopes the RAV4 will continue to be a strong seller. I have a feeling it will be. With two FWD models and three AWD models available, the RAV4 will appeal to a broad demographic of potential buyer. For a little added incentive, Toyota has actually lowered the price on base AWD models by $1,510. Add in a welcome dose of style inside and out and Toyota should be able to gain their conquest sales to move on up the compact crossover sales charts.

Pricing: 2013 Toyota RAV4
RAV4 FWD LE (Starting MSRP: $23,790)
RAV4 FWD XLE (Starting MSRP: $27,000)
RAV4 AWD LE (Starting MSRP: $25,990)
RAV4 AWD XLE (Starting MSRP: $29,200)
RAV4 AWD Limited (Starting MSRP: $31,700)

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