The fourth generation of the Toyota RAV4, designated as a 2013 model, was introduced at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. The compact crossover utility features a new styling direction while moving to a four-cylinder-only powertrain combination, with a 6-speed automatic replacing the 4-speed automatic used on the 2012 model.
As a result, the claimed fuel economy of the front-drive model increases from 22 mpg city/28 highway in 2012, to an estimated 24/31 mpg. The all-wheel-drive edition, which was rated at 21/27 mpg on 2012 models, improves to an estimated 22/29 mpg. (The 2013 model numbers are pending U.S. EPA testing.)
Also contributing to the improved fuel economy are aerodynamic changes, including underbody air management covers and a bottom-fascia air intake.
The 2AR-FE 2.5-L engine is basically carryover, rated at 176 hp (131 kW) and 172 lb·ft (234 N·m). The 3.5-L V6, rated at 269 hp/246 lb·ft (201 kW/335 N·m), will no longer be available. As a corollary move, the RAV4 will be available only as a five-seater, with reclining capability in the second row. The optional third row also is gone, although the overall length of the car (179.9 in/4569 mm) is essentially unchanged.
For those who need the third row seating and want V6 performance, a Toyota spokesman told AEI, “Well, that’s why we have the Highlander.”
The sharper, less-boxy new styling reflects Toyota’s efforts to be more expressive. One of the most noticeable exterior changes is the new top-hinged rear liftgate, which replaces the side-hinged rear door used previously. It was part of a rear-end redesign in which the exterior spare tire—an iconic visual element of RAV4 since its 1994 Japan market introduction—is replaced by a space-saver spare tire relocated in a well under the rear deck floor.
Liftgates on the RAV4 Limited model have a one-touch power button with a memory system that permits driver selection of opening heights.
The reconfiguration produces a larger cargo area, with 38.4 ft³ (1.09 m³) behind the second row seats, and what Toyota claims is a class-leading 73.3 ft³ (2.07 m³) with the seats folded.
The optional AWD system has “Dynamic Torque Control,” essentially a Toyota version of torque vectoring by brake intervention. The system has three modes. In Auto, the RAV4 delivers power to the front wheels, switching to AWD when slip is detected. In Lock, at low speed the system sends up to 50% of power to the rear wheels; it switches into Auto at 25 mph (40 kph) and above. Sport mode uses inputs from the yaw and steering angle sensors to transfer torque for improved handling.
The 2013 RAV4 retains its predecessor's 104.7-in (2659-mm) wheelbase. It is 2 in (50.8 mm) shorter overall than the 2012 model (179.9 in/4569 mm) and about an inch lower (65.4 in/1661 mm). Overall width, 72.6 in/1844 mm, is increased 1.1 in (27.9 mm).