Motoring Trailblazers - Toyota RAV4

Sun 17th Mar 2019

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Toyota RAV4
According to their own blog, Toyota are the brand responsible for creating the compact sports utility vehicle, and the RAV4 was the car they used as their trailblazer.

Regardless of the Japanese brand’s wild boast, there can be no doubt that a vehicle launched way back in 1994 was way ahead of its time by offering road users the feel and viewpoint of an offroad vehicle, but with the practicality and comfort you would expect from a high-end passenger vehicle.

So the RAV4 came with increased boot space, great visibility, and of course four-wheel drive, but the compact SUV also had fuel economy and was more than comfortable on the urban streets or high-speed highways across the globe.

Toyota’s ‘Recreational Activity Vehicle: 4-wheel drive’ certainly broke new ground, but its first generation was simplicity itself, with elements taken from both the Carina and Corolla platforms for its construction. This design basis made the RAV4 more than adaptable, and while the small SUV was a hit on its launch, there were gripes about its lack of rear passenger space, so the company introduced a four door model one year after launch in 1995. Two years later Toyota announced that they were also launching an all-electric version to meet with California's demand for zero-emission vehicles.

Riding the crest of its own wave of adulation, the RAV4 was named 1997 Automobile of the Year, and in doing so had inspired a rush of copycat, family sized SUVs. But there can be no doubting the influence of a vehicle, which even 25 years later is still going strong and deservedly so at the head of a surging boom in SUV and crossover vehicle sales.