Toyota has an innovative new rally racer that they will bring to several rally competitions later this year. It’s a tuned up 2015 Toyota RAV4 LE, pictured here in full racing form.
The Japanese automaker unveiled their high-performance rally RAV4 this weekend at the Monster Energy Supercross Championship finale, which took place at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Obviously, it’s not every day that you see a commercial crossover competing in pro-level races like the Idaho Rally or the Mt. Hood Rally. Toyota plans to bring their RAV4 to several of the races in the 2015 Rally America season in the 2WD-Open Class.
The modified 2015 Toyota RAV4 LE will be driven by Ryan Millen – a seasoned Toyota racer in his own right. He recently won the 2014 Baja 1000 driving a Toyota Tundra TRD Pro series, and he has high hopes for the RAV4. “I’ve driven just about everything Toyota has to offer,” he said. “And I’ve been very impressed with the RAV4 is tight, compact body and smooth handling. I’m looking forward to putting it through the paces this season.”
What kind of modifications has Toyota made to transform their commercial RAV4 into a rally-ready machine?
One thing they did NOT change is the engine… The RAV4 rally car runs on the same stock powertrain in the normal RAV4 LE, which is a 2.5L inline four-cylinder engine. It outputs 176 hp and just 172 lb-ft of torque, and the engine is fitted to the LE’s stock transmission. So, how will the RAV4 hope to compete?
Millen’s crew stripped over 500 lbs off the small crossover to make it a much more agile vehicle. They added a roll cage and fitted the wheels with BFGoodrich all-terrain DOT 215/75R15 tires. They also upgraded the unpderpinnings with a front and rear TEIN suspension.
You may be asking why Toyota would care about getting their RAV4 crossover into the motorsports spotlight; we certainly were. Turns out, they’ve got something to prove. The press release makes it clear they’re tired of the RAV4 being known “only” for its immense practicality and superiority to its “more-cumbersome” SUV brethren. Now, they want everyone to know that the RAV4’s “lighter and leaner design” makes it the perfect car for anyone who regularly makes “desert, beach and other outdoor excursions.”
Okay, Toyota, we get it. The RAV4 is an off-road vehicle. Let’s see what it can do.