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Have a close look at the all-new Toyota RAV4

The once-cute little SUV is all grown up now

The RAV4 looks like it strictly means business now. PHOTO FROM TOYOTA

It has been almost a quarter of a century since the Toyota RAV4 was first released onto public roads, and the Japanese carmaker has just unveiled the latest version of its popular sport-utility vehicle at the New York International Auto Show. Gone are the soft curves of the first-generation model, replaced over time by stronger, more chiseled lines and a tougher-looking front section that makes this car look all grown up.

This has almost the same dimensions as the old model. PHOTO FROM TOYOTA

Size-wise, the all-new RAV4 is nearly identical to the model it’s replacing. To be exact, it’s 0.2 inch shorter, 0.4 inch wider and 0.2 inch lower. Despite shedding a bit of sheet metal in length, the wheelbase is longer by 1.2 inches.

We dig those sharp angles everywhere. They're stylish. PHOTO FROM TOYOTA

The fifth-generation RAV4 is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that either works on its own and connects to an eight-speed automatic transmission, or works as part of a hybrid system and sends power to the wheels via an electronically controlled CVT. This is also the first Toyota to feature “Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive with Rear Driveline Disconnect.” This complex new AWD setup should provide plenty of traction when going off-road, and includes ratchet-type dog clutches on the front- and rear-wheel shafts that stop the driveshaft’s rotations, sending the driving force to the front wheels when four-wheel drive isn’t required. This setup reduces energy loss and vibrations, while at the same time improving fuel efficiency (according to the company, of course).

Think of the many ways you can use and abuse this SUV. PHOTO FROM TOYOTA

Inside—depending on which model you order—the car comes with all sorts of lovely-sounding features such as a front-row moonroof, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory function, a newly designed seven-inch multi-information display and even a digital rearview mirror that can show images recorded by a rear-facing camera to enhance a driver’s field of view. To ensure nobody gets bored or runs out of power on lengthy road trips, the more mature-looking SUV can be equipped with wireless charging for phones, up to five USB ports between the front and rear seats, and a brand-new 800W JBL audio system with 11 speakers.

Time to drive to your next brave and fun adventure. PHOTOS FROM TOYOTA

The automaker has also given the RAV4 its latest safety package called Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. This includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking; dynamic cruise control that uses radar and functions from a standstill up to 170km/h; lane departure warning with steering input and lane-tracing assist; automatic road sign recognition; and automatic high-beam operation. Couple that with eight airbags, traction control, blind spot monitor and various other safety-related systems, and you realize that there’s a whole battalion of electronic guardian angels watching out for you while driving this car.

The all-new RAV4 will hit the road toward the end of 2018, with the hybrid versions expected to arrive early next year. No word yet on pricing or power, but you may enjoy these photos in the meantime.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring.