LOS ANGELES –reveals its fourth-generation RAV4 cross/utility vehicle at the auto show here with intentions of grabbing market share from the best-selling CR-V.
Bill Fay,vice president-marketing, expects sales of 200,000 units in 2013, up from a projected 170,000 for 2012. He says RAV4 marketing will aim for younger drivers with an emphasis on its ability to handle any kind of weather or terrain.
The newest model will have front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive options, a must for capturing driver interest in the Midwest, Northeast and Rocky Mountains. Toyota introduces a system that shifts from front-wheel drive to all-wheel drive during acceleration or when wheel slippage is detected.
“It has an awful lot of capability for the younger buyer, so we’re hoping to get a little more share of that,” Fay says, noting theEscape and CX-5 also are the RAV4’s leading competitors.
Pricing is expected to be revealed within the next two weeks, Fay says. It arrives at dealerships in January.
Following an industry trend among CUVs, the RAV4 lineup no longer offers a V-6 powertrain. The most recent iterations of the Escape and theSanta Fe also dropped the mills before their respective relaunches.
The V-6 accounted for “a little bit less than 20%” of RAV4’s recent sales, Fay says, adding: “Our research says that very (few consumers) are going to miss it. There’s more and more of an inclination for more fuel efficiency and, really, the performance of these 4-cylinder engines are awfully adequate these days for people that are looking for it.
“The whole segment is really moving that way, too. I’m not sure if there’s going to be a V-6 left in the small SUV segment.”
The FWD RAV4 has a fuel-economy rating of 24/31 mpg (9.8-7.6 L/100 km) city/highway, while the AWD model is Environmental Protection Agency-estimated at 22/29 mpg (10.7-8 L/100 km). Both vehicles have an Eco mode, which helps conserve fuel at higher speeds.
Toyota’s Dynamic Torque Control offers three driving modes: Lock, Auto and Sport. Lock mode transfers power to all four wheels at lower speeds and reverts to Auto mode at speeds higher than 25 mph (40 km/h). Sport mode sharpens shift timing, throttle response and steering response.
A long-standing feature of the RAV4, a spare tire mounted on a side-entry door, is gone for ’13, having been moved under the cargo area. Overall cargo volume increases to 73.3 cu.-ft. (2.075 L).
Fay says a hybrid version of the RAV4 is possible, but not now: “You never know what’s down the road, but nothing short-term.”
An electrified RAV4 reached the market in September, but has been criticized for its $49,800 sticker price. “We’ll probably have about roughly 100 sales by the end of this month,” Fay says. “We’re starting to build a little bit of supply. It’s still kind of early.”
The RAV4 EV’s price tag should not be unexpected, he says. “I think most of the EVs have some sort of premium because of the batteries and the technology. Over time, that’s the goal – to improve the affordability and to improve the range of these vehicles.”