Toyota’s new super SUV! RAV4 to get hardcore GR makeover

The mystery of which Toyotas will get a performance makeover appears to be solved, with whispers from Japan suggesting the RAV4 SUV will be next to wear the GR badge.

Japanese media have detailed the GR rollout, with the Supra and plug-in Prius both in line for a extra performance. But the biggest news, at least for Australia, is the fact the sales-storming RAV4 SUV will also earn its own GR badge. 

The new vehicles is “under development”, media there report, and is expected to be unveiled next year ahead of a 2021-2022 on-sale date.

As you might expect, details remain thin on the ground for now. But we do know Toyota has promised the new model will focus on on-road performance rather than extra pace on the rough stuff. 

Media in Japan is expecting a bold new look to accompany any extra performance, with the squared-off front grille, aggressive body bulges and extra body stiffening to help it go around corners. 

What we don’t know, however, is just what will power it. We were in Portugal for the launch of the GR Yaris – which features the 4WD system from the RAV4 – and that vehicle’s chief engineer, Mr Naohiko Saito, told us that the little hot hatch’s powertrain would feed future GR product. 

“It’s wasting time to 4WD system and 1.6-litre engine (for one car),” he said. “And so personally I’d like to use this powertrain for the other models.”

The most powerful RAV4 in Australia at present is the 163kW AWD hybrid, with Toyota here already saying no to the RAV4 Prime plug-on hybrid, which ups the power to 225kW and 228Nm, and drops the zero to 60mph (96.5km/h) sprint to just 5.8 seconds.

Interestingly, a Yaris GR engine swap would mean less power but more torque than the Prime, with the hot hatch’s turbocharged, three-cylinder engine producing 200kW of power and 370Nm of torque.

The Toyota RAV4 has taken the medium SUV segment by storm in Australia, shifting 24,260 units last year despite only officially launching in May. To put that into perspective, the Toyota finished second only to the Mazda CX-5 (25,539 sales) in 2019, but only had seven months in market.