The next-generation Toyota RAV4 has been caught on the road by spy photographers for the very first time. The company appears to have a major design overhaul in preparation for its incredibly popular crossover.
The cladding on this RAV4 conceals the precise design details, but just the SUV's silhouette makes it clear that the vehicle looks completely different from the current one. Rather than the existing model's relatively sleek, smooth appearance, this one has a far more chiseled aesthetic. A tall front end with a large grille with a prominent surround is very evident up front, and holes in the body covering reveal that the headlights wrap around the nose and run quite a far distance up the fenders.
The RAV4 has quite a flat roof that leads back to steeply raked rear glass. Holes in the body cladding suggest the vehicle has horizontally set taillights, too.
Elements of this styling like the grille surround, headlights, roof, and hatchback shape seem to share rough similarities with the FT-AC concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show. If the RAV4 adapts these design details without much change, then the new model could be quite a rugged looking SUV.
Gallery: Toyota FT-AC Concept
The RAV4 will likely move to Toyota's TGNA platform. The modular underpinning is already underneath models like the Camry, C-HR, and Prius. Powertrain options remain a complete mystery at this point, but expect the hybrid option to carry forward to the new generation.
Toyota has a lot running on the RAV4's continued success. Despite its age, the existing model moved 407,594 units in 2017, which beat 352,154 deliveries in 2016 by 15.7 percent. This made the crossover the bestselling vehicle in Toyota's product range in the United States last year.
The existing RAV4 debuted at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. The refreshed model arrived at the 2015 New York Auto Show, and Toyota released the first photos of the hybrid model at that time, too.
While its age makes the RAV4 ready for a replacement, the sales numbers don't really force Toyota to come out with a new one yet. The company could wait to premiere the new one until very late this year, if not in 2019.