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Toyota ups RAV4 diesel towing capacity

Towing the line: After a surprisingly low tow rating of 500kg at launch, Toyota has increased the diesel RAV4’s capacity to 1000kg from July production.

Diesel Toyota RAV4 towing capacity doubled – but it’s still only 1000kg

28 May 2013

TOYOTA has gone some way to addressing a deficiency on its new diesel-powered RAV4 compact SUV variant – namely, its sub-par 500kg towing capacity.

The oil-burning version is now rated to tow a 1000kg braked load, double the previous version, which Toyota claimed was limited by Australia’s hot climate.

Toyota Australia manager of public relations Mike Breen told GoAuto today the increase in towing capacity would apply to all RAV4 diesels produced from July, with vehicles likely to arrive in local showrooms from early August.

However, even with the increase, the diesel RAV4 still has a lower tow rating than the 2.5 petrol sold alongside it, despite having more torque. It also falls short of most key rivals, including the Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, Nissan X-Trail and Ford Kuga.

Nevertheless, Mr Breen said the increase in capacity to 1000kg is appropriate given that Toyota’s own research has shown that most RAV4 buyers don’t tow.

“I think we should be happy with the 1000kg we have been able to get,” he said. “The sales of diesel have been outstanding so far, even with the 500kg, so I think we are quite pleased with the 1000kg increase.” Diesels have made up 46 per cent of all four-wheel drive RAV4 sales since launch.

The latest RAV4 was released in Australia in February with its first ever diesel engine, but the fanfare over the new engine was overshadowed by news of the low rating, with some reports suggesting that was not enough to carry a jet ski on a trailer with fuel in it.

Mr Breen said that despite the media attention regarding the initial low tow rating, the company has not received negative feedback from consumers.

“It hasn’t really been an issue. We do our surveys after the first couple of months so the official surveys haven’t come back from dealers yet. But we haven’t heard of any concern from customers about the 500kg,” he said.

The RAV’s 132kW 2.5-litre unit petrol unit, meanwhile, has a braked towing capacity of 1500kg while the even smaller 107kW 2.0-litre petrol engine found in the two-wheel drive base model has a capacity of 750kg.

At the time of the RAV4 launch earlier this year, Toyota Australia sales and marketing manager Matthew Callachor said that the towing capacity of the diesel was not a question of the RAV4’s strength or capabilities.

“This is a new engine for Australia and Toyota Japan rates Australia as having a severe climate,” he said. “Therefore, it has adopted a prudent and conservative approach that underlines Toyota’s absolute commitment – above everything else – to quality, durability and reliability.” The tow rating in the 2.2-litre 100kW/340Nm turbo-diesel RAV4 remains surprising, considering the UK-spec 2.2-litre 112kW RAV4 diesel has towing capacity of 1800kg for the auto and 2000kg for the manual.

While the boost in towing capability will be welcome news to some, it still falls short of the majority of its competitors in the local market.

The diesel version of Ford’s just-launched Kuga is capable of towing up to 1500kg (braked), while the Hyundai ix35 oiler can haul 1600kg worth of cargo from its tow-bar.

Mazda’s popular CX-5 and Subaru’s new Forester diesel both record towing capacity of 1800kg while Nissan’s X-Trail manages 1350kg for the auto and 2000kg for the manual diesel.

A disguised RAV4 test mule was seen on Melbourne streets in mid-March, over a month after the launch of the entire range, sparking speculation that Toyota’s local arm was working on an upgrade to the diesel RAV’s tow rating.

Mr Breen confirmed that Toyota Australia has worked with its Japanese parent company since the launch of the RAV4 to increase the diesel’s towing capacity.

Mr Breen said that Toyota expected strong sales for the diesel and is not surprised that the oil-burner already makes up 46 per cent of all local four-wheel drive RAV4 sales.

“We knew there would be strong demand for it, that’s why we introduced it. It is certainly meeting our expectations.”

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