Toyota Vanguard

RAV4's sibling shares its platform but adds a third row

Toyota Vanguard

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.

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