The new Toyota RAV4 launched in Australia this week and there’s been huge interest in Toyota’s all-new SUV. Here are the 8 things you need to know about it.

Lets’ kick this off by saying our first local drive of the RAV4 is under embargo until next week and we’ll aim to have our first drive video review ready by then, too. If you can’t wait for that, then click here to read Paul Horrell’s international first drive. On with the show.

The new RAV4 is bigger and roomier

The new RAV4 is built on the Toyota New Global Platform which is a mouthful to say but nothing more than the brand’s modular platform that can be pushed and pulled to suit a variety of applications. It’s already appeared under the Prius, Corolla and Camry. And, now, the RAV4.

Compared with its predecessor, the new RAV4’s roofline is up to 30mm lower and its body is 10mm wider on a wider track that has been extended by up to 35mm at the front and up to 55mm at the rear depending on the variant. 

8 things you need to know about new Toyota Rav4

Ground clearance has also been lifted to a claimed 195mm for petrol variants and a claimed 190mm for hybrid variants. Ground clearance for the current RAV4 is around 176mm claimed. The new RAV4 gets a 30mm longer wheelbase of 2690mm, GX, GXL and Cruiser variants are all 5mm shorter (4600mm) overall than the previous model with rear overhang shortened by 30mm helping to give the thing a more rugged, wheels in each corner look.

8 things you need to know about new Toyota Rav4

The new platform has afforded more room inside the cabin, with spacing between the driver and front passenger expanded by 40mm, the rear footwell has increased by 49mm, and the rear luggage space has been lengthened by 65mm to 1015mm. As well as being longer, the luggage space is also wider by a minimum of 50mm, providing a class-leading capacity of up to 580 litres – an increase of 33 litres compared with the current model. Although the roof height has been lowered by up to 30mm, by lowering the hip point of the front seats by 15mm, the RAV4 designers have maintained decent headroom for front and rear seat passengers.

More variants and a hybrid RAV4

The new RAV4 is available in 11 variants across four grades with three powertrains – two petrol and a petrol-electric hybrid – and the option of front-wheel drive (2WD) or mechanical or electric all-wheel drive (AWD).

While some models have seen price drops despite feature increases, the price of the entry-level GX with a manual gearbox jumps $1190 to $30,640+ORCs, like all models it comes loaded with the latest active safety equipment that incorporates autonomous emergency braking (AEB), blind spot warning and steering assistance.

Elsewhere across the range prices have in some cases dropped by thousands of dollars. However, the most affordable four-wheel drive RAV4 now costs $38,140 (the GX Hybrid AWD), a full $3650 leap over the outgoing model. That’s in part because it gets a petrol-electric hybrid system to save fuel, part of a bold push into an increasingly electrified motoring world.

8 things you need to know about new Toyota Rav4

The model grades are GX, GXL and Cruiser. These are all powered by a new 127kW/203Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine matched to a CVT. GX variants can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox with rev-matching functionality. And, for the first time in Australia the RAV4 will be available as a hybrid in 2WD or AWD across the GX, GXL and Cruiser variants.

The hybrid system combines a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor generator that drives through a CVT, this is the most powerful set-up in the range offering 160kW for 2WD variants (torque steer anyone) and 163kW for AWD variants. RAV4 hybrid electric AWD variants gain a rear motor generator to provide power to the rear axle for the electric AWD system. This sees the addition of a a Trail mode, “it enables up to 80 per cent of the total drive torque to be delivered through the rear wheels”.

Meet the adventurous Edge…

Topping the new RAV4 range is the adventure-focussed Edge AWD variant powered by a new 152kW/243Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine that drives through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Edge gets a mechanical AWD system that is able to deliver a front:rear torque split of between 100 per cent to the front wheels or a 50:50 split across front and rear wheels. Topping this off is torque vectoring to reduce torque from side to side to reduce understeer.

8 things you need to know about new Toyota Rav4

The AWD system on the Edge also features a multi-terrain select system that offers different modes for mud and sand, rock and dirt and snow environments. Selecting one of these modes will tweak the throttle and brake control, torque distribution front and rear and side to side, and the transmission’s shift patterns.

Hybrid is where it’s at, says Toyota

Toyota believes the hybrid RAV4 versions – which use older nickel-metal hydride batteries also employed in the Prius – will account for “more than 40 per cent” of sales.

“There is a distinct shift happening in this market,” says Toyota Australia vice president of sales and marketing, Sean Hanley in describing regular hybrids as a “credible option” for Australians.

“This is the movement, it’s happening … hybrid is the most practical way to educe emissions, it’s available now and it uses existing infrastructure.”

Hanley said Toyota expected the 40 per cent hybrid target to be conservative “and possibly higher next year”.

Toyota offers active safety across the range

The new RAV4 gets everything in the Toyota Safet Sense arsenal although depending on the variant you’ll get a little more or a little less. Toyota Safety Sense incorporates active cruise control (ACC); pre-collision safety system (PCS) with pedestrian detection (day and night) and cyclist detection (day only); lane departure alert; road sign assist (speed sign only); and automatic high beam. All variants bar the entry-level GX petrol 2WD manual version benefit from an all-speed adaptive cruise control that operates down to a complete stop. In the RAV4 GX fitted with a manual gearbox, the ACC operates, as you would imagine, at speeds above 40km/h. The ACC functionality also includes lane trace assist to keep centred in your lane even on slight bends but only if the driver keeps their hands on the steering wheel; remove them and the vehicle will chime and warn you to replace them.

8 things you need to know about new Toyota Rav4

All RAV4 models also feature a road sign assist system that can recognise speed limit signs and display them on the Multi-Information Display (MID) in the instrument cluster. Other safety features standard across the range include blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and front and rear parking sensors. Top-spec Cruiser and Edge variants add a panoramic view monitor that enables the driver to check all surroundings – side, front and rear narrow and wide views, and top view – depending on whether the transmission is in park, drive/neutral or reverse.

Australian developed and built accessories for new RAV4

As has been Toyota’s way for the last few SUV releases here, it’s offering a raft of “genuine accessories” for the RAV4. And many of them have been designed, engineered and built in Australia and will be made available for RAV4 globally, like the side steps…The side steps, available for all models, were designed and engineered by Toyota Australia’s product planning and development division and are being manufactured in Victoria for the global market.

As well as being available in Australia, the new locally-developed RAV4 side steps will be be exported to Europe and the US. Toyota Australia “won the right to produce the aluminium side steps for the global market after developing a design that requires almost no welding and does not need to be painted, making them lightweight, functional and stylish,” Toyota said.

Other new RAV4 accessories that were designed by designers and engineers at Toyota’s Port Melbourne studio include a tow bar, front nudge bar and internal metal cargo barrier that is unique to the Australian market.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto finally makes it to Toyota…

The new RAV4 will be the first Toyota to be fitted, as standard, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Only it’s not quite that simple, see, the first lot of RAV4s being delivered don’t have this functionality and owners will need to get a Toyota dealer to tweak the infotainment to support smartphone integration. It’s a free service.

8 things you need to know about new Toyota Rav4

But, the second batch of cars being delivered here later this year will all be equipped from the factory with Apple and Android connectivity.

“All RAV4s delivered from the fourth quarter 2019 will have the feature already installed. Customers taking delivery of their new-generation RAV4 before that time will require a quick visit to the local dealership to have it installed at no additional cost,” Toyota announced.

Toyota also announced that it would look to roll out a retro-fit patch for some of its other latest-generation vehicles, including Toyota Corolla and Camry. “Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be rolled out progressively as a standard feature across select Toyota models from the fourth quarter of 2019 onwards. It will also be available for retro-fit via a simple dealer service for a number of current generation models including Camry and Corolla hatch. More details will be provided later in the year,” Toyota said in a statement.

RAV4 a global sales success…

Since its launch in 1994, the Toyota RAV4 has racked up more than 8.5million sales around the world. Locally, the RAV4 has notched up more than 300,000 sales. The original RAV4 was built on a monocoque platform – compared to traditional 4WDs that used a ladder frame chassis – to deliver car-like refinement and was powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. In addition to a three-door version, a larger five-door and a three-door convertible were also available. The second-generation model arrived in 2001 and saw Toyota shift more than 10,000 units making it the best-selling SUV that year…my how times have changed.

8 things you need to know about new Toyota Rav4


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