The Toyota RAV4 is finally and officially launched in Malaysia. It's a little late to the SUV game, but it has dominated in other markets. How will it fare?
Earlier this morning, UMW Toyota Motor hosted the virtual launch to their newest model from the Japanese automaker, marking the much anticipated return of the RAV4 to our shores. Now in its fifth-generation, the fully imported (CBU) SUV will be available in showrooms in two variants starting from RM196,436.
This RAV4 (XA50) can trace its nameplate roots to the 1994 original, a then-new model that would pioneer the idea of today’s modern and more urban-oriented SUV. However, since its absence from the Malaysian market in the early 2000s, Toyota has not had a proper segment competitor in the medium SUV space, one that has ballooned to be one of the most in-demand and lucrative in markets both regionally and globally.
In that time, rivals like the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, and Nissan X-Trail have happily picked up any local market share the older RAV4 had ceded and have since built up a strong foothold. Like the RAV4, a late entrant to the ongoing SUV wars is the X70, but the Proton’s quick rise in popularity only demonstrated that appetites were still strong.
Built on the lauded TNGA platform, which also undergirds the current Corolla Altis, Camry, and C-HR crossover, this all-new RAV4 has already gained immense popularity in overseas markets since its global debut in early 2018, and it’s clear that it has grown up substantially during its Malaysian hiatus.
The exterior design itself is very bold and angular, even a little boxy, matching the FT-AC Concept that premiered at the 2017 Los Angeles Motor Show, giving it the impression of being larger than it actually is. It is refreshingly distinctive next among its sea of rivals, that’s for sure.
Somewhat unusually, both variants of the RAV4 - the 2.0L and 2.5L - share identical equipment levels, interior appointments, and are also virtually identical cosmetically. Only the mechanicals differ between them, with buyers free to choose between engine and transmission combinations depending on their needs.
The 2.0L kicks things off with a naturally aspirated - let me guess - 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (M20A-FKS) from Toyota’s Dynamic Force engine family. It features various efficiency technologies such as VVT-iE and D-4S fuel injection (varying between port and direct injection) for 170hp at 6,600rpm and 207Nm of torque at 4,400rpm. This is mated to a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) that sends power to the front wheels.
In its more expensive (RM215,664) guise, the 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine (A25A-FKS) produces a gutsier 204hp at 6,600rpm and 243Nm at 5,000rpm. However, Toyota has paired this to a more conventional 8-speed automatic to drive the front wheels, though both variants feature paddle shifters for a little more driver involvement as well as three drive modes: Eco, Normal, and Sport.
As you’d expect with a starting price at launch within sniffing distance of RM200k, the RAV4 comes very well equipped. Off the bat, we have 18-inch alloy wheels, full LED headlights and tail lights with automatic high beam, as well as a kick-operated powered tailgate for easy hands-free access to its spacious boot.
The interior is almost as ruggedly angular as the exterior and there’s certainly a strong theme present throughout the RAV4. Toyota terms it ‘Polygonal Motif’, but whatever. Almost all materials within reach of human hands is soft touch and there’s even a dark reddish brown accent colour that nicely contrasts with the (many) black surfaces.
Leather seats are partly perforated and the front pair are ventilated and features a thicker and more supportive body hugging design. That said, only the driver gets 8-way power adjustment. There’s also dual-zone climate control with rear vents, smart entry and push start, partial ambient lighting, tyre pressure monitors, and even a vehicle telematics system that uses GPS and cellular networks to pinpoint the vehicle’s location should it ever be stolen.
Toyota has also supplied the RAV4 with an Optitron gauge cluster paired with a 7-inch colour multi-function LCD display which can switch between analogue and digital readouts. Positioned prominently is the central infotainment display comprised of another 7-inch panel, touch sensitive this time, with all the expected connectivity options including support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (when available), hooked up to a six-speaker stereo. There’s also a wireless charging pad to charge your smartphone.
In addition to 7 airbags, stability control, traction control, and Blind Spot Monitoring, Toyota’s Safety Sense suite is a highlight feature of the all-new RAV4, bundling in Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist, Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).
As a bonus, each RAV4 also comes pre-installed with front and rear Digital Video Recorders (a.k.a dashcams) as well as a security and solar window film pre-installed.