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Toyota - 1996 RAV4
Toyota - 1996 RAV4

Toyota - 1996 RAV4

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Quite simply, the UK 4x4 market has never been the same since Toyota RAV4 was launched (Recreational Activity Vehicle - four wheel drive) in 1994. From the first briefings which w... More »
Quite simply, the UK 4x4 market has never been the same since Toyota RAV4 was launched (Recreational Activity Vehicle - four wheel drive) in 1994. From the first briefings which would create its radical styling in 1986 to the appearance of a concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1989, the gestation period for this trend-setting sports 4x4 was a long one. Indeed, a completely remodelled car was shown at the Tokyo Show in 1993 and the Toyota RAV4 finally appeared in its final production form at the Geneva Show in 1994 - the first time Toyota had chosen Europe to give a world unveiling to one of its production cars. It was worth the wait.What the public saw was relatively simple, light and robust 'urban 4x4' of monocoque design (a construction technique usually reserved for passenger cars and not 4x4s) with three doors, powered by a 2.0-litre 16v petrol engine with permanent four-wheel drive and either manual or automatic transmissions. Toyota had taken its time in studying the European and UK markets before launching the Toyota RAV4. It had avoided delivering a 'me too' product of the 'eighties and instead produced a truly original product for the 'nineties. You only have to look at the plethora of imitating sports/lifestyle 4x4s that have followed in the Toyota RAV4's chunky wheel tracks. Perhaps imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?Testimony to the 'rightness' of the Toyota RAV4's original design is shown by how little the vehicle has changed since its introduction in 1994. Yes, a five door version was introduced in March 1995 and a Soft Top version of the three door in January 1998, but updates have merely improved what was already right and of course, Toyota has added value to the vehicle as the Toyota RAV4's market segment has become more competitive.Toyota launched the Toyota RAV4 in the UK in June 1994 in three door form only. Two versions were made available - the Toyota RAV4 and the high specification Toyota RAV4 GX. The GX featured twin removable sunroofs, central locking, tilt steering column, electric door mirrors, driver's airbag and an alarm/engine immobiliser as standard.In March 1995 the entry-level three door Toyota RAV4 was re-badged as the RAV4 GS and a new five door GX model was introduced. The five door was 16 inches longer overall than the three door with seating for five persons.Front seatbelt pretensioners were also introduced at the launch of the five door and this system was also made available on the Toyota RAV4 three door models from September 1995. Locking wheel nuts were also added as standard to all Toyota RAV4 three door models at this time.October 1996 saw a number of enhancements to all Toyota RAV4 models which included the fitting of dual front airbags as standard, a high mount rear stop lamp and the 2.0-litre 16v engine was re-tuned for cleaner emissions, less noise and more torque. Peak torque increased to 131lb ft at 4600rpm while peak power dropped slightly 126bhp at 5400rpm.In March 1997, a new luxury VX version of five door is added to the range. The VX five door is available with manual or automatic transmissions and adds the following items to the already complete level offered on the GX five door: air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, wider alloy wheels, tyres and wheel arch extensions, a Connolly leather interior in either grey or burgundy, a rear roof spoiler and front strut brace for improved handling.In December 1997, the Toyota RAV4 is given its first minor facelift since launch. In conjunction with the facelifted RAV4 range, Toyota also introduced a Soft-Top version of the RAV4 three door. The introduction of the Soft-Top model and the detailed changes that were made to the range are introduced in detail as follows:The exterior door mirrors and door handles are now colour keyed for a more coherent look and a new design has been chosen for the steel wheels fitted as standard to EX and GX models. Four new exterior colours are now available - Magna Red, Cool Water (blue), British Green and Electric Green.A host of detail changes keep the new Toyota RAV4's interior a fun but functional place to be. All models are treated to cloth headrests and fabric door trims, a titanium-look finish to the instrument panel surround, and the standard airbag steering wheel becomes a sporty three spoke design.The instrument dials now have a carbon fibre pattern and on automatic transmission cars a gear selector display is now included. A single electric sunroof now replaces the twin manual/removable sunroofs previously available on the three door GX model. Two new seat trims are introduced on the five door models.Better sounds come courtesy of a new four speaker audio system with detachable front control security panel and an automatic 'one-touch' facility is added to the driver's electric window function. For convenience, the locking and unlocking of all doors can now be operated from the passenger side front door lock as well as the driver's side front door lock. Hide -
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