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First look: Facelifted 2009 Toyota RAV4 emerges

New-look: USA's RAV4 Sport eschews its tailgate-mounted spare wheel.

Toyota reveals facelifted RAV4 in the US, complete with new 2.5-litre four

7 Aug 2008

TOYOTA USA has revealed full details and pricing for its facelifted RAV4, a model that will go on sale in Australia in October.

North America’s 2009 RAV4 is headlined by a new 2.5-litre Dual VVT-i four-cylinder that produces 135kW and 234Nm of torque.

That’s up 10kW and 10Nm from the 125kW/224Nm 2.4-litre engine that currently serves the RAV4, and which Toyota Australia says will continue to power our version.

The surprise news comes despite the fact Australia’s RAV4 is similar to the long-wheelbase version sold in the US, rather than the short-wheelbase RAV4 available in Japan.

Australia’s fully imported RAV4 employs a variation of the locally-built 2.4-litre four that motivates the homegrown Camry, which GoAuto understands could be replaced by a new 2.7-litre four-cylinder engine in next year’s facelifted Camry.

8 center imageIt’s believed the revised 2009 Camry will also score a six-speed automatic transmission to replace the current model’s five-speed self-shifter, in an effort to improve fuel consumption over its larger sibling, the Altona-made Aurion.

However, some GoAuto sources suggest a lack of profitability from Toyota Australia’s export business to the Middle East, where most Altona-built Camrys are sold, could see the company stick with the current model’s 2.4-litre, five-speed auto configuration.

Either way, four-pot versions of Toyota’s top-selling compact SUV will continue with the current four-speed auto, while the unchanged 3.5-litre V6 will carry on with its five-speed auto.

The seven-seat RAV4 model will continue to be available in the US but won’t be sold here, to prevent sales substitution of Toyota’s own Kluger medium SUV.

It is unknown whether North America’s mid-range Sport variant (roughly equivalent to our Toyota Australia’s Cruiser specification), will be sold in Australia with run-flat tyres instead of its trademark tailgate-mounted spare wheel/tyre, as is now the case in the US.

The RAV4’s midlife facelift is otherwise a window dressing exercise, featuring a new front grille, bumper and headlights, plus a new rear bumper and tail-lights, new and/or upgraded wheels, new exterior mirrors with integrated indicators and revised interior trims.

It is not clear whether Australia’s upgraded RAV4, which enters production this month, will feature the stop/start button that has been added to the USA’s flagship Limited version.

Nor has Toyota Australia confirmed whether it will add a front-drive version of the RAV4 at facelift time, a configuration that is available in the US across all three specification grades of both the 4x2 and 4x4 RAV4 models.

The 2009 RAV4 goes on sale in the US in September, with an average price increase of $250 or 0.9 per cent.

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