Howard Wilner - Toyota RAV4
Watching the recent evolution of the Toyota RAV4, one might conclude that,
like children, little sport-utility vehicles eventually grow up. One day
they are tiny, cute and cuddly, with feisty but economical four-cylinder
engines. The next they've grown longer, wider, and taller, with family-size,
three-row seating capacity and available V6 power. Cute just isn't enough
anymore, and the RAV4 is a lot more than cute.
After a complete redesign for 2006, the 2007 RAV4 gets significant safety
improvements. Driver and front-passenger seat-mounted, side-impact airbags
are now standard equipment, as are roll-sensing side-curtain airbags for
first and second-row seats. Both systems were extra-cost options last year.
Electronic entertainment options have also been updated.
The recent redesign addressed the buying public's demand for power and space
among compact SUVs. The RAV4's length increased by 14 inches, creating more
headroom and legroom for second-row passengers, and increased shoulder room
all around. Cargo capacity grew by five cubic feet.
With these additions, the RAV4 has caught up with its competition. Its
3.5-liter V6 generates 269 horsepower, almost too much for the package,
although it adds substantially to the RAV4's capabilities. A V6 RAV4 can
haul as many as seven people and tow up to 3500 pounds, and it really
scoots. Even the four-banger is more powerful than ever, and buyers still
have the choice of front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.