The Toyota Rav4 has become one of the Japanese manufacturer’s models that have achieved eight-figure sales. The Suv has exceeded 10 million units since 1994. Here is the fifth generation design story published in Auto&Design no.234.
Designing a completely new car can be complex, but putting your hands on a success is even worse. The Toyota Rav4 carved out a new car segment for itself 20 years ago. Over the years this has become a real trend and at this moment in time its success is at its height: we are of course talking about city off-roaders, namely Suvs and crossovers.
“We have reached the fifth generation of the Rav4, but there is a common thread that links it to its predecessors. Basically two aspects have remained unchanged despite several years having gone by. The first is what is called Waku-Doki, a Japanese expression meaning the emotion deriving from the freedom to go wherever you want in a fun way. The second is the refined style, for a design conceived not only for off-road vehicles but also for the urban context”. Tatsuya Sonoda, Project Chief Designer of the Rav4 and Chief Designer at the Japanese manufacturer’s ED2 centre in Nice, directed by Ian Cartabiano, tells the story of the genesis and characteristics of the new Rav4.
“It all started with the FT-AC Adventure concept car unveiled in 2017 at the Los Angeles Motor Show. The stylistic imprint has remained substantially unchanged, but it has evolved through numerous passages into the forms you see today. The beginnings were difficult, the first design drafts did not satisfy us and it meant constant trial and error. Then, after about six months, we found the right path,” Sonoda recalls.
The design of the exteriors follows the “Cross Octagon Design” scheme, the result of crossing two virtual octagons, one horizontal and one vertical, between front and rear. In fact, when you look at the car, there are 8 edges between the front and the front side panel and another 8 at the rear, from the roof line to the mudguard.
Compared to the previous version, this results in a more powerful road presence, thanks also to the bigger tyres and the square wheel arches. Ground clearance has also increased.
The interior design is developed on a horizontal plane, made up of taut lines and edges. “We first focused on the volumes of the passenger compartment. And in fact, as soon as you climb into the new Rav4 the main feeling is that of a great deal of space.
The styling is simple and aimed at comfort, but at the same time iconic”, continues the Japanese designer. Between the front seats is the centre console “with its bold, strong design, and the idea of achieving a premium layout”.