Following a prolonged third-generation lifecycle, Toyota has finally pulled back the curtain on the long-awaited 2013 RAV4. This fourth-generation compact carryall promises to deliver the high level of quality and reliability on which Toyota has built its reputation, along with improved fuel economy, advanced in-vehicle technology and, for the first-time ever, contemporary styling.

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The 2013 Toyota RAV4 scraps the nameplate's signature, albeit antiquated, barn door-style rear gate in favor of a more conventional vertical-opening liftgate. Toyota noted that the decision to relocate the spare tire under the cargo floor was intended to both improve aerodynamics and open the door (no pun intended) for a more streamlined silhouette. Inside, Toyota's California-based Calty Design Studio created an upscale, driver-focused cockpit outfitted with user-friendly controls and an asymmetrical dash layout.
The new RAV4 gets its motivation from the same 2.5-liter 4-cylinder as its predecessor, but it's rated at three fewer horsepower than the outgoing 2012 model, placing total output at 176 horsepower. The carryover mill sends power through a new 6-speed automatic transmission to either the front wheels or all four. The new 6-speed gearbox combined with a host of aerodynamic enhancements help the new RAV4 achieve an EPA-estimated 24/31 city/highway mpg rating in front-wheel drive form. With fuel economy weighing heavy on the minds of car shoppers, the 269-horsepower V6 has been discontinued for the 2013 model year.

The electronically controlled all-wheel drive system is the first in Toyota's lineup to incorporate Dynamic Torque control, which works to increase traction and lateral grip by automatically transferring power to the rear wheels as needed. Every 2013 Toyota RAV4 will feature a new Sport mode that, when activated, quickens throttle response, sharpens shift timing and lessens steering assist for a firmer feel.

Available in LE, XLE and range-topping Limited trim, the RAV4's comprehensive roster of standard equipment includes such creature comforts as a touch-screen audio system with a 6.1-inch display, backup camera and a fold-flat 60/40 split rear seat. Mid-tier XLE models add premium fabric seating, a power moonroof and dual-zone climate control, with Limited trims featuring an 8-way power driver's seat, power liftgate and heated front seats. XLE and Limited models offer a voice-activated navigation system with Toyota's Entune infotainment system. Occupant safety comes in the form of eight airbags, Toyota's Star Safety System (a full complement of electronic stability aids), and a reinforced body structure comprised of high-tensile steel. A new blind spot monitoring system with a cross traffic alert function is available on Limited models. 

Toyota has yet to release pricing information, but the company did announce that the 2013 Toyota RAV4 will officially hit showrooms in January.

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