2013 Toyota RAV4
2013 Toyota RAV4. Click image to enlarge

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Manufacturer’s Website
Toyota Canada

Review by Mike Schlee, photos by Mike Schlee and Courtesy of Toyota Canada

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2013 Toyota RAV4

Toyota is on a mission to shake the perceived notion that they only build boring cars. You have surely heard the jokes before: Corollas can be had in any colour as long as it is beige; or, Toyota builds some of the finest appliances on the road. Well, despite every manufacturer’s boastful claim that they are building excitement, this time, Toyota is serious. They are injecting some welcome life into their products, and successfully, too. Just look at Toyota’s recent track record. In the past year they have brought to market the stylish Avalon and a purist sports car, the Scion FR-S. Now it is time to reinvent the RAV4. For this Toyota has gone bold; very bold.

On sale since 2006, the current generation of RAV4 has done well for Toyota. Aside from blistering acceleration via the optional V6 engine, the 2006–2012 RAV4 wasn’t exactly an exciting vehicle to drive or look at. It was a great, reliable family vehicle, but didn’t excel at much more. It still found favour with consumers as 29,942 RAV4s were sold in Canada during 2012. Despite being the last model year for this generation of RAV4, that is still a 20 percent increase over the tsunami-disrupted 2011 sales year.

It was also good enough to place the RAV4 near the top of the sales chart in the compact crossover segment, but for 2013, Toyota wants the RAV4s to gain the number one sales slot in Canada for compact crossovers. To achieve this, the RAV4 has undergone a radical redesign.

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

One glance at the 2013 RAV4 and it is obvious it is different; not just from the 2012 RAV4, but from compact crossovers in general. Toyota wanted to give the RAV4 bold styling and they definitely succeeded – it may be a little too bold for my taste, but looks are subjective. Up front, a new fascia adorns the RAV4, featuring chrome accents within a grille flanked by two projection headlights. At the rear, the most obvious change is the removal of the door-mounted spare tire; it is now located inside the ute under the cargo floor. The reason for this change is that the RAV4 finally has a conventional lift-back tailgate instead of the swing out design synonymous with this compact crossover. A bit of an oddity for me is the fact that the rear bumper is not painted, even on top of the line limited models; at least not yet. Hint: more variations of the RAV4 are sure to come, but more on that later.

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