Bigger Toyota RAV4 aims to win back lost buyers
BARCELONA -- Toyota has made its latest RAV4 longer and wider to win back ground in the compact SUV segment.
First launched in 1994, the RAV4 for many years led the segment in Europe, but last year slipped to sixth place (see chart below).
Toyota made the fourth-generation RAV4 larger because compact SUV buyers now want more space and versatility, RAV4 project manager Hiroshi Hiroshima said at the car's launch here.
The RAV4 is 30mm wider, 205mm longer and 25mm lower than its predecessor. This gives the vehicle a sleeker look and creates more room for rear passengers. Trunk capacity is now 547 liters, up from 473 liters.
Toyota expects Russia to account for 46 percent of the 90,000 annual RAV4 sales it forecasts in its European markets. Last year, the automaker sold 27,237 units of the SUV to Russian customers. "The SUV market in Russia is very promising," Hiroshima said. "The RAV4 is launching in the right place at the right time for Russia."
The RAV4 will be offered in Europe with front- and all-wheel drive and a choice of a 2.0-liter gasoline engine or 2.0- or 2.2-liter diesels. Russia also gets a 2.5-liter gasoline sold with the RAV4 in the United States and Asian markets.
What's good: Driving dynamics; rear hatch is now top-hinged rather than side-hinged.
What's bad: Interior perceived quality lags rivals.
Base price: 22,595 euros (Germany)
Where built: Tahara, Japan
Launch date: March
Annual sales forecast: 90,000 (western Europe and Russia); 450,000 (global).
Lowest CO2 emissions: 127g/km
Main rivals: Honda CR-V, VW Tiguan, Ford Kuga