Toyota wrought a decisive change in the motoring landscape 20 years ago with the launch of the original RAV4, a new kind of recreational vehicle that pioneered today's valuable and highly popular compact SUV market. Today it has opened a new chapter in RAV4's enduring success story with the unveiling of the first RAV4 Hybrid at the New York International Auto Show.
Its smooth and efficient powertrain combines a 2.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, with an additional motor powering the rear axle to deliver electronic all-wheel drive. The AWD capability provides greater safety and stability when negotiating low-grip surfaces, It also provides a towing capacity of 1,650kg, with Toyota's Trailer Sway Control system providing added security and peace of mind.
RAV4's new frontal design generates a stronger road presence and includes full LED headlights for the first time. To the side, there is a new rocker panel that creates a more flowing look, and at the rear the combination lamps and bumper have been reworked, adding yet more emphasis to the car's road stance.
The quality of the interior has been raised significantly with the adoption of new combination meters, a full colour TFT screen and soft-touch materials.
New technology features include Toyota's 360-degree Panoramic View Monitor, which gives the driver sight of obstacles that would remain hidden in blind spots when using conventional front and rear cameras, making for safer and easier manoeuvring.
RAV4's safety specification is significantly improved with the addition of the new Toyota Safety Sense. In addition to the Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beam and Road Sign Assist features that will also be included in the package for new Avensis and Auris this summer, RAV4 will further benefit from Adaptive Cruise Control and two significant enhancements to the basic Pre-Collision System functions.
Firstly, the PCS will operate at an extend relative speed range – from 6 mph up to the vehicle's maximum speed – and will be able to reduce speed through automated braking by about 24 mph. Secondly, the system will be able to detect potential collisions with pedestrians, in the event of which automated braking will operate at relative speeds between 6 mph and 50 mph and be able to reduce vehicle speed by about 19 mph.
New RAV4 will go on sale in December, with the RAV4 Hybrid AWD model arriving in the UK and Europe early in 2016. UK specifications and further details will be announced nearer on the on-sale date.