What’s the best-selling vehicle in America that’s not a pickup truck? In 2019, Toyota sold 448,071 RAV4 SUVs, and there’s nothing short of a global pandemic that suggests the selling trend will slow down. Some might say the lack of a third row for passengers is a detractor, but the RAV4 would be pretty cramped in such a configuration. That is, a normal RAV4 would be cramped. The one featured here is about as far from normal as you can get.
The story of this interesting SUV oddity comes from the Japanese website Car Watch, and yes, it’s a product of Toyota. We’re not talking about the donor RAV4, but the entire orange limousine you see here – all 26 feet of it. It was built by an enterprising group of 200 people during off-hours at Toyota’s Takaoka plant in Japan, where the RAV4 is built along with the Corolla and the Japanese-market Harrier crossover – soon to be the new Venza for North America.
Gallery: 2019 Toyota RAV4: First Drive
The conversion took upwards of four months, and as you probably expect, the biggest challenge was maintaining structural integrity. Adding around 32 inches of space in the middle doesn’t bode well for a unibody SUV, and though the final product doesn’t perfectly mimic the RAV4’s body lines, it is a fully functional machine. Unfortunately for you family-minded folks, it still doesn’t offer three-row seating. But whoa Nellie can back seat passengers stretch out.
Why was this RAV4 limo built? It wasn’t an official Toyota endeavor but obviously the automaker was in the loop about it. People on the project point out three distinct reasons, with the first being the most human reason of all – the challenge. Beyond that, there’s exceptional motivation to explore the possibilities of both man and machine, and those represent the second and third reasons. What might Toyota learn about the RAV4 in creating this limo? And what might the workers on the project learn about themselves in the process?
It’s hard to argue against a desire to learn and become better, and that’s encapsulated wonderfully in this one-off Toyota project.