Toyota created the crossover SUV phenomenon a decade ago, when it introduced the 1996 RAV4 to the public. One of the first car-based sport-utilities to hit the U.S., the first RAV4’s appeal was widespread. Now, ten years later, that appeal has waned. Left behind by bigger, more powerful, purpose-built SUVs, the RAV4 is an also-ran due to its small size and cute design.
For 2006, Toyota is trying to bring the RAV4 back into the spotlight. The new third-generation version arrives later this year and is built on an all-new platform that makes the new RAV4 longer and wider, inside and out. Along with more muscular styling, Toyota has bumped up the RAV4’s power as well. Can Toyota change the perception the public has of the RAV4 by making it bigger and more powerful, or is the RAV4 destined to toil in anonymity? We think the RAV4 has a shot at ditching its chick-truck image in favor of the kind of widespread acceptance assigned to the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V.
For 2006, Toyota is hoping to bring the RAV4 back to the forefront with new muscular styling, more power, and a larger interior and exterior.