it RAV4 on steroids. Obviously the kicky little
sport utility has done some bulking up with its
2006 redesign on an all-new platform, adding an
optional third row seat, some 14-plus inches in
overall length and, for the first time, a 269-horsepower
V-6 engine that Toyota calls most powerful in
the compact segment. Those aren't lightweight
credentials, but they certainly attest to the
position the Japanese auto maker sees as the best
place for this SUV to fit: Sports-minded singles
who need room for their gear; some families with
young children; independents who want contemporary
is becoming a hallmark of almost every vehicle
on the road, and the ability to carry more people
and cargo is one of them. So is power. Despite
the upward creep, or gallop, in gasoline prices,
those who need the extra gusto with a low emissions
3.5-liter six can have it now. For more budget
minded, RAV4 still comes with a more fuel efficient,
earth-friendly 2.4-liter four, boosted to deliver
five HP more at 166. A four-wheel independent
suspension was used for sportier handling and
a smoother ride.
retains its front-drive origins, with on-demand
four-wheel-drive. The vehicle avoids blatant ruggedness
for the passenger pampering driving comforts of
home. In a sleekly redesigned exterior, with bolder,
sweeping high window line ("beltline"
in the industry), it gains a visual sophistication
that mutes some of that gosh darn cuteness of
the previous two generations. New four-bulb headlamps
create what Toyota calls an "aggressive stare."
The rear-mounted spare gets a partial hard cover.
models, which Toyota differentiates as "grades,"
come in Base, a new Sport version that highlights
performance, and top-line Limited with available
leather, heated seats, rear seat DVD and Blizzard
White Pearl exterior. All come in two- or four-wheel
drive. The new Sport model features a sport suspension,
fog lights, 18-inch wheels, roof rails and fender
flares. All come with enhanced safety features
as standard, that interface with electronic powered
got a later model year start than some competitors,
not on sale until January. But it isn't racing
to catch up with cut-rate bargains. Expect MSRPs
in the low to mid 20s.