Meet the Toyota RAV4’s big brother. Called the Vanguard, it’s a larger and more luxurious alternative to the firm’s big-selling off-roader.
It’s based on an extended RAV4 platform, and even shares some body panels with its smaller stablemate. However, the Vanguard comes with an additional row of chairs inside, making it a genuine seven-seater.
On the outside, the large SUV gets stylish headlamps and a big grille complete with horizontal chrome bars. The latter are in marked contrast to the grey plastic items used for the RAV4, and help to provide the newcomer with an upmarket look.
A raised bonnet line and bold wheelarches add to the aggressive appearance. And to reinforce the car’s road-biased set-up, designers at the company have done away with the mud-plugging-style spare wheel housing on the tailgate.
Instead, Vanguard buyers get an emergency puncture repair kit in case of a flat tyre – although a full-sized spare wheel can be specified from the extensive list of optional extras. The new Toyota can still cope with mild off-road duties, though, thanks to standard-fit features such as hill start and downhill assist.
Under the bonnet, there’s a choice of petrol engines. These are expected to include a 168bhp 2.4-litre powerplant, which will be linked as standard to a seven-speed CVT. A 276bhp 3.5-litre V6 is also likely to be offered, mated to a five-speed automatic.
The Vanguard went on sale in Japan this week, and shows how the revised RAV4 will look.