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by Jez Spinks

The Toyota RAV4 has ditched its trademark rear-mounted spare wheel, abandoned its side-hinged tailgate, and introduced a new turbo diesel engine for its new-generation model.

Toyota has finally confirmed CarAdvice’s world exclusive last May that the 2013 Toyota RAV4 would axe the V6 petrol in favour of a new 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, revealing the new-look mid-sized SUV at the 2012 LA motor show.

The Japanese car maker isn’t revealing full details of the new RAV4 yet but says the diesel will produce more than 300Nm of torque, with two-thirds of that produced from just above idle, and have fuel consumption below 6.0L/100km.

There will be two petrol engines available, too, expanding the choice for buyers when the Toyota RAV4 goes on sale in Australia in the first quarter of 2013.

A 133kW 2.5-litre four-cylinder is near-identical to the one found in the Camry Altise while the 102kW 2.0-litre is based on the unit from the Corolla Ultima sedan.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard with a six-speed automatic featuring a tipshift function available as an option with the diesel and 2.5 petrol.

The latest iteration of the RAV4, which has been around since 1994, follows other current Toyotas such as the Camry and Corolla by adopting a bolder exterior design.

It includes the wraparound grille and headlight design that forms a central part of Toyota’s family face for its line-up.

The big news externally, though, is Toyota’s move to switch the spare wheel from the tailgate to a more conventional position beneath the boot floor. It follows Honda’s move in recent years with the CR-V.

A roof-hinged tailgate will also overcome the outgoing model’s side-hinged version that could be problematic on windy days or when the RAV4 was parked on a slope.

Toyota says the RAV4 will have improved handling, with benefits from increased body rigidity. Front and rear vision is also claimed to be better.

The Toyota RAV4 has been unveiled as an all-wheel-drive version but it’s to be presumed a front-drive variant will again be offered to maintain the model’s competitiveness against similar rivals.

Seven airbags are fitted as standard, with higher grades also including auto tailgate operation, blind spot assist, rain-sensing wipers and auto-dimming rear view mirror.

The Toyota RAV4 was arguably the world’s first road-biased off-roader – or ‘soft roader’ – and continues to be one of Australia’s most popular SUVs

Nearly 200,000 RAV4s have been sold locally since the vehicle debuted 18 years ago.

Click on the Photos tab top to see more images of the new Toyota RAV4.




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