An artist's impression of what the new Toyota RAV4. Illustration: Chris Harris
Look out, Mazda CX-5 and Nissan X-Trail. Toyota is readying its next RAV4 with a sharper face, an overhauled cabin and more safety equipment to compete with the top-selling compact soft-roaders.
Due in Australia early next year after a debut at November's Los Angeles motor show, the RAV4 will wear the Japanese giant's latest design language including angular front and rear styling as seen on the recently updated Camry sedan and coming Corolla hatch. The latter was revealed earlier this month.
It will finally gain more passive safety equipment, with potentially life-saving curtain airbags as standard, as well as dual front airbags and stability control. It will also ditch its predecessor's heavy, side-hinged tailgate with its mounted spare wheel for a more conventional top-hinged boot lid.
The fourth-generation RAV4 is expected to be exclusively powered by a four-cylinder petrol engine in two- or all-wheel-drive. The current range-topping model's 3.5-litre V6 is tipped to be dropped.
A 2.5-litre four-cylinder unit is set to replace the existing 125kW/224Nm 2.4-litre, while a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine offering more torque and reduced fuel usage is also likely. A six-speed automatic transmission is expected to replace the old four-speed unit for smoother shifting and improved fuel efficiency.
The next RAV4 is expected to come with petrol-electric power, but the greener model is not expected to join the local line-up in the near future.
The company is also selling a fully electric version in partnership with US EV-only brand Tesla.
The overhauled cabin will mirror the Camry's two-tier dash with faux leather trim and cross-stitching across the mid-section for an upmarket look. Other notable upgrades caught in spy images include a redesigned instrument cluster and a large central screen.