Toyota has unveiled the next big thing in the compact-crossover market.
The fourth-generation RAV4 was launched at the Los Angeles International Auto Show last week, and is New Zealand-bound early next year.
The all-new model will be available in eight different variants, with a choice of new 2.0 and 2.5-litre petrol engines and a 2.2-litre turbo diesel.
The most significant changes for the new model will the availability of front-drive models – the current RAV4 is exclusively all-wheel drive – and a six-speed automatic transmission for the diesel model, which is currently manual only.
Specifications are yet to be announced, but Toyota claims the car is more powerful and more fuel efficient than the outgoing RAV4, with a more advanced all-wheel drive system and higher-quality interior finish.
The dreaded side-hinged rear hatch – a feature of the RAV4 since the first-generation model – has been dropped in favour of a conventional top-hinged door.
While the previous arrangement paid homage to hard-core off-road vehicles as a mounting point for the spare wheel, the side-opening door was desperately impractical in tight parking spaces.
The RAV4 is guaranteed to be the next big thing is the New Zealand market as even at the end of its model life, the outgoing model remains a strong seller.
It is still the second-best-selling model in its segment this year – Holden’s Captiva is top – and it was the third-best-selling rental model overall for October.
Toyota New Zealand has sold more than 17,000 RAV4s since the model made its debut in 1994. Back then, it was one of the original "soft roader" models – a blend of off-roader styling and road car underpinnings that has now become the norm.