Racing: Toyota Rav4 Planting Rally Roots


Your Toyota Rav4 is beginning its racing heritage.

Most may think of the Rav4 as a grocery-getter.  There are many reasons to justify that.  After all, it’s a sport-utility vehicle.  The latest models come in a 2.5 four-cylinder motor with an output of 176 horsepower.  It is an economical vehicle with a surprising EPA rating of 24 city, 31 highway for gas mileage.  It has ample room with plenty of space in the back.  In fact, it’s fair to say that there is very little about a Rav4 that says “Sport” unless it’s the Sport trim badge on the lower side of the driver door.

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That is about to change.  Rally racing, specifically, rally cross, is a slowly growing sport in the United States.

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Toyota, along with Ryan Millen, are collaborating to compete in the Atlantic Rally Cup and Pacific Rally Cup in NASA’s Sport series.  Rally racing is usually linked to turbocharged four-cylinder motors, all-wheel drive systems, and multiple differentials. Toyota is going a different direction.

In fact, your Rav4 will be surprisingly similar to the current rally vehicle.  Both will be powered by the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder motor.  It’ll stay in the 2WD open class through front wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission.

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Most of the modifications are based on safety and communications with the use of a roll cage and a communications system between the driver and the navigator. Other modifications will be made to the brakes and suspension to handle the terrain.

"“This year we are stepping up our racing as well as our marketing efforts to expose a whole new audience to rally racing and the RAV4,” explained Kibo Kitamaha, national manager, vehicle marketing and communications. “It’s going to be a wild ride, but we’re thrilled to see our RAV4 SE take on all the twists, turns, and terrain that Ryan and life can throw at it.”"

Just because a car is in a professional racing series, doesn’t mean the vehicle’s powertrain has to be extensively modified.  It says a lot about Toyota’s engineering and the driver to make this vehicle competitive with a four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive, 6-speed automatic combination.

Next: 2017 Honda Civic Type-R Coming In Hatch Version Under Acura

Maybe the next time you see a Rav4, you’ll see it in a different light.  After all, the 2008 V6 4×4 version is shockingly quick.  Want to try it out for yourself?