The 2013 Toyota RAV4 has been unveiled at the 2012 LA Auto Show. It goes on sale early next year and will be a rival for compact SUVs such as the Honda CR-V, Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Tiguan.
The all-new RAV4 is longer, wider and lower than the current car. Its styling shows the influence of the latest Toyota Auris, with a more angular, sharp-edged look and similar front headlights and grille.
A major change is the shift to a top-hinged tailgate, instead of the current RAV4's side-hinged rear door, which should provide better access in tight parking spaces.
Toyota says the RAV4's interior has 'higher-quality finishes' than today's RAV4, including more soft-touch materials and the use of leather for some of the dashboard trim.
A lower driving position and increased range of driver's seat-height adjustment are designed to improve comfort. There's also a lower angle for the steering wheel, while slimmer front pillars are designed to give better forward visibility.
The rear seats have longer cushions and higher side bolsters to improve comfort. They also have a 60/40 split/folding function to boost boot space. Boot capacity is 547 litres with the rear seats in place – 137 litres more than a Nissan Qashqai, but 42 litres less than the new Honda CR-V.
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A choice of petrol or diesel engines and front- or four-wheel drive will be available. The petrol engine is a 149bhp 2.0, which will be available only with four-wheel drive and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) gearbox.
A new entry-level 122bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine joins the RAV4 range. It is available with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox only, and emits 127g/km of CO2. An updated version of the current car's 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine will be offered, with four-wheel drive as standard, and the choice of a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.
A new four-wheel-drive system has been introduced for the 2013 RAV4. In normal conditions power is sent only to the front wheels, while up to 50% of the available power can be sent to the rear wheels if they start to slip.
There's also a new Sport mode, which sends 10% of the engine's power to the rear wheels when the steering wheel is turned – to reduce the load on the front tryes and improve handling. Sport mode also alters the steering, throttle and transmission settings, to give a more responsive feel.
Prices and full specifications for the new Toyota RAV4 are yet to be confirmed. The new entry-level diesel model means that the starting price could drop to around £23,000 (from £24,340), but the most expensive version is likely to cost slightly more than the current £28,350 range-topper.
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