Toyota revealed the fifth generation of its popular RAV4 compact SUV this week at the New York auto show, and it's a little larger, more up to date and more off-road capable than before.
The auto maker also showed a sporty new four-door hatchback version of the Corolla that it hopes will attract younger millennial buyers.
The 2019 RAV4 won't go on sale until late this year, probably December, while its hybrid version will be available next February or March. All conventional RAV4s for Canada are built in Woodstock, Ont., and for the first time, the hybrid will also be built in Canada. Toyota operates two assembly plants in Canada, in Woodstock and nearby Cambridge, but isn't saying yet where the hybrid will be built.
The RAV4 is Toyota's best-selling vehicle in Canada, with sales of more than 50,000 last year. In the United States, with sales exceeding 400,000, the Rav4 was the best-selling vehicle in the country outside of pickup trucks.
The new generation doesn't mess with success.
It's built on Toyota's new TNGA platform, which will eventually underpin all the maker's models in some form . The chassis is apparently 57-per-cent stiffer, with a multilink rear suspension, and it rides more than a centimetre higher off the ground. The wheelbase is increased by 30 mm and the width by 10 mm, while the overall length and height are both reduced by 5 mm.
There will be three distinct trims: the regular version, a "Trail" version that's more focused on off-road driving (called the "Adventure" in the United States) and the Hybrid version, which will only be available in the sporty XSE trim. Hybrids currently account for about one in four RAV4 sales in Canada.
The compact SUV is quickly distinguished from the previous edition by a large new central grille at the front and by its mirrors, which are now attached to the doors and no longer the A-pillars for improved visibility. (A new digital mirror is now available for the main rear-view mirror, in which a camera image can replace the real-time image, as Cadillac features on its CT6.)
All versions have a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine, either gas or hybrid, that Toyota shares with the Camry; the conventional drivetrain uses an eight-speed automatic transmission, while the hybrid uses a continuously variable transmission.
The Trail edition, which features a more rugged-looking exterior, includes Dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel drive as standard, which is also provided on the high-end Limited edition of the conventional RAV4. It's an all-new AWD system that can distribute 50 per cent of the power to the rear wheels when needed and also send it individually to the left or right rear wheels for improved cornering and rough-road ability.
The Hybrid also has a new AWD system that can send 30-per-cent more power to the electrically driven rear wheels than before. It will be the sportiest RAV4 available.
All 2019 RAV4s will come standard with Entune 3.0 connectivity and Apple CarPlay, and with Toyota's Safety Sense 2.0 driver's assistance features. Power and fuel consumption ratings are not yet available, and nor is the price of the new models.
The Corolla hatchback debuted here in New York this week, and also at the Vancouver auto show.
It's a successor to the Corolla iM but is lower by 25 mm, wider by 30 mm and longer by 40 mm. It's also built on the new TNGA platform, and comes standard with Entune 3.0 and Apple Car Play.
There will be three different trim levels, all powered by a new 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine that replaces the iM's 1.8-litre engine, though it is smaller, lighter,and quieter. The drivetrain is a choice of either a six-speed manual transmission or an innovative CVT that includes both a gear drive for the lowest gear and a belt drive for higher gears; this improves acceleration from standstill and is also featured on the new Lexus UX. Its suspension is sport-tuned, but Toyota says it will deliver "a civilized, quiet ride."
Pricing of the Corolla Hatchback will be announced closer to its availability this summer.
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