Back in the spring of last year, the debate raged as to where a consumer might turn if they were looking for hands-down the most cost-effecting compact crossover available in the US. This was the time when the market was graced with the arrival of a new 2012 Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V – all of which were gunning for the same crown.
So, given the fact that the all-new 2013 Toyota Rav4 launches this very month, it seemed like a good idea to take a look at the latest entrant and see if the Japanese automaker has come good on its promise – one to once again redefine the segment it created.
Sorting a slick new profile nose-to-tail, a 2.5-liter straight-four powertrain and automatic six-speed transmission, the 2013 Rav4 certainly qualifies for the all-new moniker. Directly targeting the growing demand for fuel-efficiency and cost-effectiveness, Toyota did away with the rather greedy V6 powerplant of the previous Rav4, while also removing the optional third row of seating.
The revamped upper-hinged tailgate offers so much more convenience than the previous sideward-opening rear, while the trademark spare tire on the trunk that eventually became a tacky eyesore has been mercifully rehoused under the floor. The adjustments do admittedly result in less interior space than previous Rav4 models, but not by enough to constitute a complaint.
Onto those all-important figures – Toyota has stated that the 2013 Rav4 will achieve 31MPG for highway driving and 24MPG city. Feature-wise, options are on the cards including an all-wheel drive version, a massive JBL audio system with 11 speakers and various driver safety aids.
So, with an entry-level price of $23,300, all of the above sets the 2013 Toyota Rav4 firmly toward the upper-end of the segment and is an impressive package to say the least. In terms of buying and running costs, it may only come out slightly ahead of its closest rivals, but this is after all a segment where every penny really does count.
Which makes it rather unfortunate that the segment is not in fact led by the 2013 Toyota Rav4 as the automaker had likely hoped – check out the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport for a surprise or two.