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The 2016 Toyota RAV4 update has arrived, bringing with it revised styling, some cabin upgrades, engine tweaks, plus more active and preventative safety equipment.

The updates particularly improve value of the flagship Toyota RAV4 Cruiser variants.

The late-year RAV4 revision means industry top-seller Toyota has updated a staggering 13 models in 2015. Thus, it has launched, replaced or renewed vehicles representing three-quarters of its sales volume.

So what’s new on the 2016 Toyota RAV4?

2015 Toyota RAV4: Cruiser (left), GXL (right) and GX

Exterior changes include a bolder-looking front end including a larger lower grille and slimline LED projector headlights, plus revised LED daytime running lights.

Restyled front and rear bumpers add 35mm to the RAV4’s overall length while new wheel arch mouldings and rocker panels sharpen the sides and contribute to a more flowing profile.

New wheel designs for the mid-range GXL and high-grade Cruiser and a standard shark fin antenna also feature. The GXL moves up from a 17-inch alloy to an 18-inch black alloy.

There are also three new colours: Deep Red mica metallic (replacing Wildfire), Hazel and Blue Gem.

2015 Toyota RAV4 GXL

Inside, the RAV4’s cabin is said to be quieter thanks to expanded insulation coverage and thickness.

There is new matt black trim with contrasting silver accents. The centre console has been redesigned so the front cup holder can accommodate mugs with handles. A 12-volt accessory socket in the second row (in addition to two in the front) and a sunglasses-holder have also been added.

The GXL and Cruiser gain a new two-dial instrument cluster with a 4.2-inch colour TFT display. The GXL is now fitted with an electrochromatic rear-view mirror, while the RAV4 Cruiser’s interior, including its ‘leather-accented’ seats, can be specified in black, tan or beige depending on the exterior colour.

Toyota claims the ride comfort and driver involvement have been improved with measures including “a more rigid rear body shell that contributes to greater driving stability and improved ride quality”.

2015 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser

Shock absorbers and coil springs have been revised to give a “flatter, more comfortable ride and to enhance straight-line stability”. It’s worth noting that we have criticised the RAV’s ride quality in the past compared with rivals.

There’s some new safety tech featured too. Standard on the now much better-value Cruiser and optional on the GXL (for $2500) is a pack featuring a pre-collision system with forward collision warning and autonomous emergency brakes, lane departure alert, automatic high beam and radar cruise control.

There’s also a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and front parking sensors. Trailer sway control also features, though braked trailer capacity remains meagre (1500kg for the petrol and 1200kg for the diesel).

Despite all this stuff being added to the Cruiser, the petrol version is actually $500 cheaper than before.

2015 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser (black interior shown)

Engines are unchanged, though the diesel version now comes with a NOx-saving particulate filter. The base 2.0-litre front-drive models have 107kW/187Nm on tap and use either a six-speed manual or CVT.

The mid-level 2.5-litre with AWD has 132kW/233Nm and is six-speed-auto only, while the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel has 110kW/340Nm and gets the option of six-speed auto or manual gearboxes.

Prices for automatic petrol models have been held or reduced despite the improvements while manual versions have edged up $500. Prices for the turbo-diesel variants have risen between $1000 and $2000.

We touched on Toyota’s epic year of updates earlier. Over the past 12 months we have seen a huge Camry redesign, an all-new HiLux, and an upgraded Corolla hatch.

2015 Toyota RAV4 GX

Toyota also launched the Fortuner and updated the Prado and 200 Series LandCruiser, as well as the Aurion, Prius C, Prius V, HiAce bus and van, and the Coaster bus.

These updates cover vehicles with combined sales of about 150,000 units YTD — about 15 per cent of the total Australian vehicle market.

The RAV4 this year accounts for 16,805 of Toyota’s sales, making it the company’s fourth most popular model after the Corolla, Camry and HiLux. It sits second in the medium SUV segment behind the Mazda CX-5 (23,219) and just ahead of the Nissan X-Trail (16,737).

2015 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser (tan interior shown)

2016 Toyota RAV4 pricing (plus on-road costs):

2WD 2.0 petrol

  • GX manual — $27,990 (+$500)
  • GX auto — $29,990
  • GXL manual — $31,990 (+$500)
  • GLX auto — $33,990

AWD 2.5 petrol

  • GX auto — $32,990
  • GXL auto — $36,990
  • Cruiser auto — $44,490 (-$500)

Diesel 2.2 diesel

  • GX manual — $35,990 (+$2000)
  • GX auto — $37,990 (+$1500)
  • GXL manual — $39,990 (+$2000)
  • GXL auto — $41,990 (+$1500)
  • Cruiser auto — $49,490 (+$1000)