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SUV THAT STARTED IT ALL HITS DOUBLE FIGURES

The vehicle that pioneered the purpose-built sports utility vehicle revolution celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.

Toyota's RAV4 helped establish the trend for an all wheel drive vehicle without a transfer case - but with 4x4 attributes of high seating, good ground clearance and better than limited off road capability.

Toyota has produced more than 1.6 million RAV4s since 1994.

Annual production is a quarter of a million vehicles per year.

Lifestyle remains a key purchase motivator for customers of RAV4.

More than 72,000 RAV4s have been sold in Australia over the over last decade - making it the most popular compact SUV of the period.

That decade has seen the vehicle evolve from the original 3-Door with a 2.0-litre Twin Cam iron-block engine to 3-Door and 5-Door models with the newly introduced 2.4-litre all-alloy VVT-i engine.

The 2.4 litre engine delivers 120kW of power at 5700rpm and 224Nm of torque at 4000rpm.

It can be matched to a new manual transmission with an improved spread of ratios or to an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission.

Recent improvements to RAV4 also include increased active and passive safety, improved steering, suspension and feature levels, and less noise, vibration and harshness.

Air conditioning and cruise control are now fitted as standard equipment.

Toyota's RAV4 range has eight models, with the choice of two body styles, two transmissions and two model grades.

All RAV4 models have full-time all-wheel drive with a viscous-coupled centre differential.

Two model grades are offered - CV and Cruiser.

Standard equipment in all RAV4 models includes dual SRS airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters, air conditioning, cruise control, keyless remote entry, power windows (front only on three door models) and mirrors.

Also standard equipment in all models are CD/tuner, driver's seat tilt adjustment, tilt-fold slide-adjustable and removable rear seats, front and rear accessory sockets, overhead sunglasses console, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear wiper, front seat-back pockets, independent suspension and hard spare wheel cover.

RAV4 Cruiser pack adds ABS anti-skid brakes with electronic brake force distribution, 16-inch alloy wheels with 235/60R16 tyres, cassette player (3-in-1 audio system), 6-disc in-cabin CD changer, front foglamps, rear roof level spoiler, roof rails, power moonroof, and leather accented steering wheel and gearshift lever.

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IMAGES
The original 3-Door RAV4 (at rear) with Toyota's current model 5-Door RAV4 in foreground.