Toyota RAV4 Chronology

November 11, 2014
**NOTE:  All chronology dates are model year, unless noted otherwise.  CY refers to “Calendar Year.”**
Series Chronology
1994 - RAV4 introduced in Japan in May.
1996 - Introduced in the U.S. in January with 2.0L four-cylinder engine.
1996 - “Driver's Choice award - Best Mini-SUV,” Motor Week.
1996 - “Best of What's New,” Popular Science magazine.
1996 - "Best New Products - Silver Award" - Edison American Marketing Assoc.
1997 - “Best Small SUV,” Consumer Reports.
1997 - “Automobile of the Year,” Automobile.
1998 - Minor facelift, interior additions.
1998 - RAV4 two-door Soft Top begins production
1999 - RAV4L Special Edition models receive optional leather interior, special- edition colors
2000 - Two-door RAV4 and soft-top models have been discontinued.  RAV4
 continues in 2000 available as a four-door model only.
2000 - Among Consumer Guide’s Recommended Compact Sport-Utility Vehicles
2001 - Introduction of all-new, completely redesigned, second-generation RAV4
2001 - Consumer Reports names RAV4 “Best Small SUV”
2002 - RAV4 receives minor exterior enhancements
2002 - Intellichoice named Best Overall Value Compact Sport Utility Class under $20,000
2002 - J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study (IQS) award in the Entry SUV segment
2004 - RAV4 receives significant exterior and interior enhancements, safety feature enhancements, and a new 2.4L four-cylinder engine.
2004 - RAV4 named “Best Vehicles for $25,000 or Less,” SUVs – Consumer Reports
2005 - Minor changes to optional Sport Package.
2005 - RAV4 (AWD) listed on Consumer Reports “Best Vehicles for $25,000 or Less” –
2006 - Third generation RAV4 introduced
2006 - named RAV4 “Consumers’ Most Wanted SUV under $25,000.”
2006 - “Most Requested New SUV,” Autobytel
2007 - RAV4 scores “Good” in IIHS front and side safety tests.
2007 - Given the “Editor’s Choice Award” by – Commuters category.
2007 - Named “Top Pick” in Small SUV category by Consumer Reports.
2007 - RAV4 named one of the “Best Cars for Families” by AAA/Parents Magazine.
2007 - “Best Small SUV,” Car and Driver
2008 - AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) for Mid-size Crossover SUV
2008 - Among Best Crossovers for “Best Family Cars” Award – Magazine.
2008 - “Best Small SUV,” by Car and Driver for second consecutive year.
2008 - Named “Most Requested New Utility Vehicle” in Autobytel/My Ride 2008 Consumer Choice Awards
2008 - AutoPacific and’s Motorist Choice Awards for Mid-Size Crossover
2009 - All-new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine replaces previous 2.4-liter engine and Sport Appearance package is available for 4WD V6 model
2009 - Named an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) “TOP SAFETY PICK”
2009 – Named “One of the Best Family Cars of 2009 – Crossover category” by  
2009 - RAV4 with new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine named Consumer Reports “Top Pick” among small SUV’s in its Annual Auto issue.
2010 -  Kelly Blue Book “2010 Best Resale Value: Top 10”
2011 – IntelliChoice “2011 Best Overall Value” Compact Crossover/Wagon
2012 – US News & World Report, ”2012 Best Cars for The Money” for Affordable Compact SUVs (with three rows)
2013 – The all-new fourth-generation RAV4 makes its global debut at the 2012 Los Angeles International Auto show and goes on sale in January, 2013.
Toyota began selling the RAV4 in Japan in May of 1994 and sales were strong immediately.  Initial sales estimates were 4,500 units per month, but after 8,000 orders the first month, production was doubled immediately.

RAV4 featured a 2.0L, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine originally used in the second generation Camry.  RAV4 was available in two- and four-door body styles, and with either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions.  It had a full-time all-wheel-drive system, and offered an optional locking center differential.

RAV4's size, four-wheel drive, wide stance and short front and rear overhangs made for great maneuverability both on- and off-road and in all weather conditions.  All RAV4s were designed with safety equipment allowing them to be called passenger cars rather than trucks.  Standard equipment includes dual airbags, adjustable three-point seatbelts and enhanced side-impact protection.  Four-door models also include child-proof rear door locks.

By combining conventional passenger-car elements with the features of a light, off-road vehicle, Toyota called its RAV4 a “new-concept” SUV.  The RAV4 provided Toyota and its customers with an attractive entry into the growing sport utility market.

The 1997 RAV4 saw only minor changes to an already revolutionary product.  Changes were limited to revised seat fabric in two-door models, the availability of a power moonroof in four-door models, a standard digital clock and larger front speakers on power-window equipped models.

For 1998, RAV4 saw its first minor changes.  Exterior changes included a new grille, front bumper cap, multi-reflector headlamps and jeweled taillights.  On the inside, a digital odometer, dual cupholders, revised door panels, a three-spoke steering wheel and new audio systems topped the list.  Four door models also received revised seat fabric.

The two-door RAV4 Soft Top was introduced in mid-year.  The RAV4 Soft Top was based on the two-door RAV4 and featured a combination front hard top/rear convertible soft top.

The RAV4 Soft Top was built with structural braces in the rocker panels and rear fenders were added to the body of the vehicle for extra support and rigidity.

The U.S.-made top was constructed of double-layered, vinyl-coated polyester with a two-ply substrate and featured durable, lightweight plastic windows.  The heavy-duty top was reinforced at all key stress points and was also kink and wrinkle resistant.  In the event of inclement weather, the top offered a water management system that funneled moisture away from the cabin.

For 1999 Toyota once again raised the refinement mark for the mini sport utility segment by offering an optional perforated sport leather interior in its RAV4L Special Edition packaged models.  Beginning this year, color-keyed body cladding, mirrors and door handles were standard on RAV4L. Three new special addition colors with matching cladding also became available, including White Pearl Mica, Quicksilver and Black.

RAV4 entered the 2000 model year as a four-door-only model.  The two-door Soft Top model had been discontinued.
For 2001, the second-generation RAV4 was completely redesigned, making it a roomier, sportier and more versatile compact SUV.  RAV4’s overall length, width, height and wheelbase were all increased by approximately an inch or more for greater room, inside and out. The exterior was completely redesigned for a more aerodynamic, aggressive appearance.

The 2001 RAV4 was powered by a lighter, all-new, all-aluminum 2.0L, four-cylinder 16-valve DOHC engine with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence technology (VVT-i).  VVT-i helped the engine produce 148 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 142 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.  RAV4 became certified as a low emission vehicle (LEV).

The 2002 RAV4 carried over mostly unchanged, except for the increased availability of colors on the “L” model -- Rainforest Pearl, Spectra Blue Mica and Pearl White.

The RAV4 remained unchanged for 2003, with the exception of a newly available Sport Package that added a more aggressive exterior appearance and many interior amenities.

The RAV4 entered 2004 with significant mechanical, exterior and safety changes. Exterior changes included color-keyed back door handle, a new front bumper, headlights, grille, fog lights, tail lamps and spare tire cover designs. RAV4 also received a 2.4L four-cylinder engine producing 161 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque.  Vehicle Stability Control with Traction Control and Brake Assist became standard, along with Anti-lock Brakes and Electronic Brake-force Distribution. Five new exterior colors were added and first- and second-row side-curtain airbags and front side airbags also became optional.

For 2005, the RAV4’s optional Sport Package featured a unique metal mesh grille and silver sport pedals. The JBL 3-in-1 audio system was deleted and the Star Safety System added.

The all-new third generation RAV4 was introduced in December 2005 for the 2006 model year.  Completely redesigned, the latest RAV4 featured significantly improved performance, enhanced refinement, and greatly increased size.

The RAV4’s new contemporary design was characterized by an aerodynamic sporty shape with wider a stance, trapezoidal grille and four-bulb headlamps. 

A new performance-driven Sport grade was also introduced for the 2006 model year and featured unique dark charcoal fabric seats, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension, fog lights, black painted roof rails and cross bars and grille, smoked headlamp bezels and color-keyed door handles, fender flares, spare tire cover and mirrors.

RAV4’s standard upgraded 2.4L four-cylinder engine with VVT-i came equipped with a gated–shift four-speed automatic and produced 166 horsepower and 165 lb-ft torque.  For the first time, a 3.5L V6 engine mated to a gated-shift five-speed automatic transmission became available on all models.  The V6 engine generated 269 horsepower and 246 lb-ft of torque.

The 4x4 models featured a new electronically controlled on-demand four-wheel-drive system, while a Limited Slip Differential is standard on all 4x2 models.

With increased overall length, third-row seating also became available for the first time.

The RAV4 also featured more storage for the 2006 model year, with increased center console box capacity, a sunken rear storage compartment with a foldable double-flap lid and a one–push open/close upper storage compartment above the glove box.  Two hidden storage compartments under the rear cargo area floor became concealed by a water-repellant foldable deck board on all two-row models.

The 2007 model of the RAV4 was a carryover with no exterior changes.  Driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags and front and second-row side-curtain airbags with roll-over sensor were now standard.  In addition, JBL audio with Bluetooth™ capability and steering wheel mounted controls became optional.

For 2008, RAV4 offered a new finish on the Sport 18-inch alloy wheel, while Black Forest Pearl replaced Nautical Blue as a paint color. Also, an optional immobilizer was standard on Limited-grade vehicles and optional on Base and Sport grades.
The RAV4 received significant enhancements for 2009 including an all-new standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that was more powerful than the previous 2.4-liter engine. All 2009 RAV4 models featured interior upgrades and a comprehensive new Sport Appearance Package became available for the 4WD V6 model.  Each RAV4 grade delivered enhanced safety security with the addition of standard front seat active headrests and an engine immobilizer. The Limited grade added a new standard Smart Entry system. The Sport and Limited grades offered a new rear backup monitor. Integrated satellite radio was newly available, and the Sport and Limited grades now offered a new low-cost navigation system.  All RAV4 models gained new standard seat fabric, and the Sport grade exclusively offered a new, unique Charcoal leather option. 

Externally, the 2009 RAV4 sported new front and rear styling with a restyled grille and front bumper, improved fog light trims and redesigned tail lamps. All models, except the 4WD V6 with the new Sport Appearance Package, received a redesigned rear step bumper with a black protector molding. The Base and Limited grades featured a new 17-inch alloy wheel design, and the Limited also gains new turn signal side mirrors and chrome accents on the grille and overfenders. The Sport grade added a unique rear spoiler.

The Sport Appearance Package available for the 4WD V6 RAV4 model included an exclusive look with a redesigned rear door featuring chrome accents and no spare tire. The package equipped the RAV4 with run-flat tires. Other cues included color-keyed power heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, a stainless steel exhaust tip, a black leather shift knob with stainless steel insert, chrome interior door handles, parking brake and vent trim, stainless steel doorsills and the choice of an exclusive exterior color, Elusive Blue Metallic. The Sport Appearance Package also included an AM/FM six-disc CD changer with six speakers, MP3/WMA playback capability and integrated XM® Satellite Radio with a one-year service subscription.

For 2010, the RAV4 carried over unchanged with the exception of a few added enhancements.  Most notably, the Sport Appearance Package expanded to the 4x2 Sport grade beginning in November 2009.  Other minor touches included the Sport grade offering the JBL audio system with steering wheel audio controls and hands-free Bluetooth® capability as an option.  Also, a backup monitor system was integrated into the electrochromatic mirror making it an option on the Base grade.

For 2011, a new Extra Value Package was made available for four-cylinder and V6 RAV4 models. It added a tilt-and-slide power moonroof; six-CD audio system with integrated satellite radio (subscription required); steering wheel audio controls; upgraded interior fabric; roof rails; color-keyed door handles; rear privacy glass; 17-inch alloy wheels; daytime running lights, and, on two-row models, a rear cargo area tonneau cover.

All 2012 RAV4 models gained a new standard audio system that were equipped with hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology, while the Limited Grade offered an available display audio system with navigation and Toyota Entune connectivity services.  This new display-type audio system incorporated the lates, most popular multimedia features. These included Toyota Entune services, XM Satellite Radio capability (with 90-day trial subscription), HD Radio with iTunes® tagging and text-to-voice.

The 2013 RAV4 marked the all-new fourth generation of the crossover that started it all.  The new RAV4 offered great value through balanced performance and capability, including improved fuel efficiency, class-leading cargo capacity, a dynamic design, class-leading eight standard airbags, and a compelling array of standard features.  

The fourth-generation RAV4's all-new design achieved strong proportions while conveying agile and fun character.  The dynamic exterior featured a progressive silhouette, with a sleek-sloping roofline and an aggressive character line.  The new RAV4's interior had two-row seating for five and a premium look with soft-touch accents and driver-centric controls. 

In a significant break with its heritage, RAV4 switched from its side-hinged rear door to a convenient roof-hinged liftgate with a space-saver spare tire stored under the cargo floor. 

All RAV4’s continued to be equipped with a fuel-efficient 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine but added a new six-speed automatic transmission, and a host of available in-cabin technologies. The all-new RAV4’s fuel efficiency was improved from the previous generation.  A new Eco mode also promoted more efficient driving for maximum mpg.

Handling was enhanced with a Toyota-first available Dynamic Torque Control AWD.  Also available was a Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.     

RAV4 was now available in three trim levels: LE, XLE and Limited, each available in front- or all-wheel-drive.  Each grade was well-equipped with standard comfort and convenience features and very few options, offering great value, and a simple ordering process to meet the needs and budgets of a variety of buyers.

Standard on all RAV4 models was Display Audio with a 6.1-in. touchscreen, AM/FM/CD, Bluetooth® connectivity, USB and AUX mini-jack, and six speakers. Display Audio allowd the driver and front passenger to operate the audio system, display HVAC settings, engage available navigation and access the available Entune™ multi-media system.

For 2014 model year, the fourth-generation RAV4 debuted a new Entune® Audio. The RAV4 Limited grade model offered a new Technology Package option that included Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Alert and Auto High Beam.

The 2015 RAV4 introduced a new Blizzard Pearl Premium Package for the RAV4 Limited grade.  This special package dresses the already stylish RAV4 in Blizzard Pearl paint and new 18-inch machine-finished wheels with black painted pockets.

At the opposite end of the thermometer, new Hot Lava paint joins the lineup. The one-touch power liftgate with driver-selectable memory height settings,standard on the Limited, is now an option for the XLE grade.  The XLE gets new 17-inch Superchrome alloy wheels for 2015.
What does it mean?
RAV4:  Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive.
Where is it built?
RAV4s are produced in the Tahara Plant in Tahara, Japan and at the Woodstock plant in Ontario, Canada.
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