Have a laugh... this time, on Toyota!- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Have a laugh... this time, on Toyota!

    you know, for a land that once ruled the globe and had an Empire that stretched as far as its will, England has come so far downhill that I can't imagine them legitimately claiming "First World" status. still, there are some things you can't fault them for doing, one of which is maintaining a bit more journalistically removed from their primary advertisers such that they feel free to actually CRITICIZE the thing that their critical review actually purports to be critically reviewing! case in point: The Guardian's recent review of the newer, larger Toyota RAV4.

    have a laugh, folks... and read on.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Toyota RAV4: Why make another SUV?
    Once a nippy three-door 4x4 aimed at active couples, Toyota's latest RAV4 has grown into a full-size SUV with five doors as standard. John Simister struggles to understand why. Published: 14 March 2006

    Toyota RAV4: Why make another SUV? The ramped-up RAV4

    Specifications
    Model: Toyota RAV4 XT4 2.0
    Price: 21,495 (range spans 18,995-26,995). On sale now
    Engine: 1,998cc, four cylinders, 16 valves, 152bhp at 6,000rpm, 143lb ft at 4,000rpm
    Transmission: five-speed gearbox, four-wheel drive
    Performance: 115mph, 0-60 in 10.3sec, 32.8mpg official average
    CO2: 202g/km

    Why do people buy SUVs? We've questioned the psychology often enough in these pages, but the fact is that a curiously large number of people are in love with the idea, and carmakers keep bringing us new ones. That's why we report on them.

    It's not as if people are even buying authentic off-roaders, and living out some sort of fantasy.
    The head of Toyota's ED2 design studio in the south of France, Takuo Fukuichi, admits that SUVs nowadays have moved from practical tool to urban fashion accessory. "For the customer, the SUV feeling has changed," he said. "Most SUV customers drive in the city and want some kind of secure feeling."

    Toyota's RAV4, launched in 1994, was the first "soft roader", a car with visual hints of a proper 4x4 but softened and civilised. That's how it felt, too; comfortable, refined and car-like with quite limited off-road ability, despite a simple four-wheel drive system. It was a huge success because it extended perfectly the personality of its buyers - people who lived the prototype of the (I can hardly bear to utter the loaded words) "active lifestyle" marketing dream. Indeed, RAV stands, for Recreational Active Vehicle.

    One of its virtues was compactnesss. The second-generation RAV4, or "Rava" as my erstwhile and short-sighted neighbour used to call it, was bigger; cars always seem to grow through the generations. And now there's a brand new one, longer and wider again and no longer available in a neat three-door form. That's because, last time, nearly all buyers went for the five-door, family-friendly version. So much for the dream of young couples heading off for a bit of windsurfing in their cute little three-door, short-wheelbase RAV4. History.

    The RAV4 has been enough of a success to forge its own, strong identity. So the new one is instantly recognisable for what it is, with a familiar face and the big-shouldered, reverse-slope-rear-side-window look typical of current Toyota SUVs and MPVs. Inside, the aura is of more expensive textures and higher quality; leather upholstery is found in the mid-range XT4 version as well as the posh XT5. There's a 2.0-litre petrol engine, as before, but the diesels are now of 2.2 litres and produce either 136bhp (pretty good) or, for the top-end, unique-engined XT180, 177bhp (impressive).

    There's also a revised version of the four-wheel drive system which uses an electromagnetic clutch to meter torque to the rear wheels (up to 45 per cent of the total) instead of a simple viscous coupling. The dominant state remains front-wheel drive, but the new system can alter the front-rear torque split as soon as sensors detect the need, instead of waiting for the front wheels to lose their traction. This is useful in keeping the RAV4 well-balanced when cornering quickly on a slippery road.

    My test car is a 2.0-litre petrol XT4: 152bhp, leather trim and an "Active Drive System". This marries the function of the electromagnetic clutch transmission (called Active Torque Control, and fitted to all new RAV4s) with those of the stability system. It even applies helpful forces to the steering, via the electric power steering motor, to help you correct a skid.

    * * *

    Time for a drive. Let's head to Bicester Shopping Village. The RAV4 should be right at home there.

    First impression. Where has all that 152bhp gone? This feels an unwilling vehicle, even allowing for the tightness of its very new, as yet little-driven engine.

    Second impression. It just took that roundabout and slip road very tidily, staying flat and taut despite the lofty stance, and steering with surprising precision.

    Third impression? This RAV4 may have a new suspension system with the former rear struts replaced by a so-called multilink arrangement rather like that of a Ford Focus, but the ride is not at all pleasant. The RAV4 is constantly fidgeting in a tiresome vertical bounce where most cars, even sporty ones, manage to flatten the contour lines. Maybe this is the price paid for tidy handling in a car whose architecture - height especially - says to the suspension engineer in search of sportiness, "I really wouldn't start from here, if I were you."

    Meanwhile, the engine is toiling away, I've stalled it and jerked it a couple of times because the clutch is both violent and anaesthetised so you can't quite feel when it bites, and I'm really wondering what the point is of this car. Why carry all that extra four-wheel drive weight around with you, all that over-engineered tough stuff for an off-road ability you'll never use, all that air-blocking, fuel-wasting frontal area, when you don't need any of it? Two inches of snow in the Home Counties do not mean you need a 4x4; all you need, although none of us have them, is a set of winter tyres like they have in Alpine Europe.

    I shouldn't single out the RAV4 for this, of course. But in this car is crystallised the absurdity of today's 4x4 obsession in which people buy cars they not only don't need (except maybe psychologically) but which actually make a less good, less efficient job of the tasks asked of them. True, the RAV4 is quite roomy, it has a simple and elegant system for folding the rear seats called EasyFlat, and you sit nice and high for a commanding view, but a good compact MPV can do all of that while riding better, being easier to park and using less fuel. It will be cheaper, too.

    OK, I haven't tried the diesel RAV4s. They will make more sense, because they will be more economical and their engines' torque will make for a livelier drive with less driver effort. But the fact remains that the RAV4 is expensive for what it does.

    A couple of weeks ago we tested a Vauxhall Meriva VXR, a compact MPV with an incongruous but entirely successful hot-hatchback personality transplant, which has virtually as much room, is both faster and more economical, and is more fun to drive. And it costs a massive 5,000 less.

    So much for the RAV4, then. Maybe it's a fashion car. But do you want to be a fashion victim?

    The rivals

    HONDA CR-V, 2.0 SPORT, 18,900

    Cheaper than the Toyota, livelier and more supple in the suspension, the CR-V is fair value but short on personality. Four-wheel drive uses clever hydraulic pumps, diesel version has an impressive engine.

    KIA SPORTAGE, 2.0 XS, 16,795

    A surprisingly good-looking SUV from a company on a steep ascendant. Rides better at speed than the RAV4, and a speedy but thirsty V6 is the price of a basic RAV4. The diesel is capable, too.

    NISSAN X-TRAIL 2.5 COLUMBIA, 20,000

    This compact SUV outsells the Nissan Primera family car. It's good to drive, with a gutsy petrol engine or a Renault-sourced 2.2-litre diesel, and is roomy and versatile. If you want a compact SUV, it's the best.


    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    weblink for attribution -- http://motoring.independent.co.uk/ro...icle351092.ece

  2. #2
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    Our own " Consumer Reports " will lambast when needed .
    Yeah I gotta question. You got any excuses tonight Roy ? -Antonio Tarver

    There is room for it all, just ride what you like to on what you like to...that's freeriding. -rbn14



  3. #3
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    more like damning with faint praise, Evel. those penny loafer wearing poindexters don't have the brains, wit or talent to write anything other than dull observations, and that's assuming they aren't busy daydreaming about the newest latest greatest pocket protectors.

  4. #4
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    While they are complaining about engines, isn't there a new ~270hp powerplant in the Rav4 thats avail?

    While the reviewer makes fun of the rav4, toyota is just trying to sell cars. If they know what will sell ( a "fake" SUV for the city) then more power to them. They evidently understand people better than the reviewer. Toyota says; "people are dumb". Reviewer says';"people are smart". I say; "people are dumb".

    Being the #2 auto maker gaining on 1st place, I think toyota may get the last laugh.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    While they are complaining about engines, isn't there a new ~270hp powerplant in the Rav4 thats avail?
    I think so - some zippy option, to be sure - but I'd bet it's probably not available in Britain. It seems they always get the detuned (if not just generally smaller) engine choices.

    Not that I blame 'em ... filling up the ol' Magnum SXT rental is a bit of a shock, compared to my sturdy little Matrix. And that's still at US gas prices. I can't imagine driving that thing regularly back home, with gas at 85 cents a litre. And that's still nothing compared to what they pay over there.

  6. #6
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    It is funny how each succeeding generation of cars & SUVs gets bigger, wider, longer...and usually more powerful. For instance, the Honda Civic of today is larger and more powerful than the Honda Accord of 20 years ago, which was supposed to be their "big" car.

    If this trend keeps up, every vehicle will end up being the size of a Ford Excursion.

    I'd be curious to see how the Euro-spec'd RAV4 compares to the U.S. spec'd RAV4 in terms of engines and horsepower. I don't think they even offer a RAV4 diesel in the U.S.

    Toyota built one of the finest SUVs ever...the FJ60 series Land Cruisers. I used to call it a "UV" since there was nothing sporty about it. It had a Manual transmission, manual choke (that was fun), manual hubs, manual transfer case and roll down windows. They put stickshifts in them in order to give the driver something to do to pass the time while it got up to highway speed. However, put these beasts in their element -- off road or severe conditions and there was nothing like them around. It was like driving a tank. I miss mine <sniff, sniff>

  7. #7
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    Wink don't laugh for too long...

    I predict Toyota if it wanted to, could buy GM in 5 or 10 years from now.

    As well Toyota would be a good stock to buy (TM).

    They are a smart company, selling a superior product to smart customers.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by AJ541
    I predict Toyota if it wanted to, could buy GM in 5 or 10 years from now.

    As well Toyota would be a good stock to buy (TM).

    They are a smart company, selling a superior product to smart customers.
    GM has too much debt. for a takeover.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    While they are complaining about engines, isn't there a new ~270hp powerplant in the Rav4 thats avail?

    While the reviewer makes fun of the rav4, toyota is just trying to sell cars. If they know what will sell ( a "fake" SUV for the city) then more power to them. They evidently understand people better than the reviewer. Toyota says; "people are dumb". Reviewer says';"people are smart". I say; "people are dumb".

    Being the #2 auto maker gaining on 1st place, I think toyota may get the last laugh.
    boy that's deep Jim. as long as you make big $$$ and sell lots, you're a better person?

    it's easier to live in the shallows isn't it?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AJ541
    I predict Toyota if it wanted to, could buy GM in 5 or 10 years from now.

    As well Toyota would be a good stock to buy (TM).

    They are a smart company, selling a superior product to smart customers.
    that's true, but that doesn't make them superior humans. I mean it's not like there's a lot of REAL competition for Toyota's level of quality. but it's also not like it's infeasible to meet Toyota's standards. it's just more profitable to have the same families raking in the same ever increasing profits from GM and Ford, which means they change little and improve things even less often. isn't it?

  11. #11
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    Good job!

    Thanks for the post. I really enjoy reading things (subject doesn't matter) written by someone who has a good sense of humor and good writing skills.
    Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see!

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