Toyota aims at segment leaders with new RAV4
LOS ANGELES -- The original Toyota RAV4 arrived in 1996 and was quickly established as the compact crossover king. But other automakers have improved the recipe and passed the RAV4 in sales.
Toyota expects the redesigned 2013 RAV4 to make a run at its rivals, but it has a long way to go. Through October, sales of 145,103 RAV4s compared with 233,586 for the Honda CR-V, 219,907 for the Ford Escape and 182,249 for the Chevrolet Equinox.
The segment is strong. Overall, sales of compact crossovers have jumped 17 percent this year -- outpacing the market's 14 percent gain.
The new RAV4, unveiled at the auto show here, goes on sale in early 2013. Pricing was not announced.
Toyota has kept the same wheelbase, but has reduced the RAV4's overall length by 2 inches while making the vehicle 1 inch wider.
Under the hood, the RAV4 offers only the carryover 176-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder. The optional V-6 from the previous generation has been dropped, as has the optional third row of seats.
The take rate on the third row was less than 5 percent and aside from mountainous regions, there were few buyers for the V-6, said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Toyota was the last manufacturer in the segment to offer a V-6.
"Given the average life cycle of a product, those options would have been limited at the beginning and almost nonexistent by the end," he said. "There is no sense developing options that have very small take rates."
Previously, the base engine was combined with a four-speed automatic. The 2013 model will have a six-speed automatic with sequential-shift gating. Fifth and sixth gears are set as overdrives.
Fuel economy ratings are 24 mpg city/31 highway for the front-wheel-drive version and 22 mpg city/29 highway for the all-wheel-drive setup, not counting the efficiency gains achieved in eco mode.
Awd models will come with Toyota's Dynamic Torque Control system, which automatically shifts from fwd to awd when accelerating or when sensors detect wheel slippage, according to Toyota. The system also comes with a "lock" mode for muddy or sandy conditions under 25 mph, sending up to 50 percent of engine power to the rear wheels.
Standard features will include 17-inch wheels, privacy glass, daytime running lights, cruise control, backup camera and steering wheel controls for audio and Bluetooth.
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