2010 Toyota RAV4 Sport: Cleaner Look, More Convenient Layout

October 28, 2009
2010 Toyota RAV4

2010 Toyota RAV4

2010 Toyota RAV4

2010 Toyota RAV4

Last year the Toyota RAV4 got a little bit of a facelift, with a refreshed front and rear appearance, a stronger and more refined base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and an upgraded feature set.

But it was a little surprising—as it had been when the RAV4 was last fully redesigned for 2006—that Toyota didn't address the RAV4's most controversial feature: It kept the spare tire hanging off the side-hinged tailgate.

In Europe and some Asian markets, the RAV4 has for several years already been offered with no spare mounted in back, so it was a little mysterious as to why Toyota stuck with this arrangement here—a rugged cue that hints at off-road ability, in a vehicle that has never been much of an off-roader. Back in the days before utility vehicles were used for everyday family transportation, it was a much more common arrangement.

Last year, Toyota began offering a Sport Appearance Package that finally brought that more sophisticated, street-savvy look to North America. Including run-flat tires, special badging, and a chrome exhaust tip, along with heated leather seats (power-adjustable for the driver), leather door trim, a cargo mat, and more chrome brightwork inside, the package yielded a completely different appearance for the RAV4. Like a makeover that addressed a particular sore point, the package didn't change much but somehow painted the RAV4 in a new light, making it seem from some angles more like a tall, sporty wagon than a chunky SUV with some off-road-wannabe cues.

2010 Toyota RAV4

2010 Toyota RAV4

2010 Toyota RAV4

2010 Toyota RAV4

2010 Toyota RAV4

2010 Toyota RAV4

The catch was that availability of the package on the 2009 Toyota RAV4 was limited to just one specific trim: the V6 Sport, and only the one with 4WD.

Response to the new package must have been strong, because for 2010 Toyota has expanded availability of the new look to all Sport models. And it's a bargain; adding the contents of the package, which cost $577 last year, doesn't raise prices to this year's Sport.

We still can't comment on how the 2010 RAV4 Sport drives—ride and handling can often be quite different with run-flats—but with expanded availability of the spare-less design we hope to revisit this model soon. You can bet loading and unloading groceries will be considerably easier.

At TheCarConnection.com, we've just updated our review information for the 2010 Toyota RAV4. What else is new? Just a few tech features, including a mirror-integrated backup monitor and expanded availability of the excellent JBL premium audio system. Read our Bottom Line and full review for the rest, and be sure to browse images, specs, and related news.

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