Toyota Australia Towing Cautiously With New Diesel RAV4 Photo:
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Malcolm Flynn | Feb, 21 2013 | 30 Comments

Toyota's first diesel-powered RAV4 lobbed into Australia this week, but one point in the SUV's spec sheet had TMR and its readers wondering if a 'typo' had slipped into the print.

Arriving with a meagre 550kg maximum tow rating, Toyota's new diesel Rav turfs the idea that torquey diesel engines are the top choice for towing.

What's more, the diesel's tow rating falls well short of the 1500kg rating carried by the 2.5 litre petrol, along with the 800kg rating of the 2.0 litre front-wheel-drive models.

On paper, the 2.2 litre turbodiesel's figures suggest a trouncing of the 2.5 litre petrol engine’s towing potential, its 340Nm of torque between 2000-2800rpm comparing favourably against the petrol’s 233Nm at 4100rpm.

Curiously, buyers in the UK are offered the new RAV4 with the same engine, but there it carries an 1800kg rating in auto form, and 2000kg for the manual variant.

While local and overseas tow ratings aren't directly comparable, the power and torque of the UK model is more-or-less in-line with the Australian model.

But here, the RAV4 diesel's tow rating is less than half its UK counterpart. The problem for Toyota Australia, of course, is the growing popularity of midsized SUVs for hauling the weekend getaway gear.

On these figures, would-be RAV4 buyers looking to tow will need to leave the diesel off the list for the moment (and choose the 2.5 litre petrol model), or look to Toyota's rivals for the assurance of greater towing ability.

Nissan’s X-Trail and Mitsubishi’s Outlander offer up to 2000kg towing capability, while all Mazda CX-5 models are capable of the same 1800kg as diesel Subaru Foresters.

What's the deal, then?

Speaking at this week's launch of the 2013 RAV4 range, Toyota Australia product planning and development boss Mark Dobson told TMR the carmaker is playing it safe with Australia's abundance of dirt roads and high temperatures.

“This is the first time we’ve used this engine in what is considered a harsh environment, and Toyota has taken a conservative approach with its load rating for our market,” Mr Dobson said.

Until now, the 2.2 litre 2AD-FHV engine has been sold exclusively in cooler climates, and the common-rail turbodiesel is significantly more complex (read: potentially fragile) than the 1500kg-rated naturally aspirated 2.5 litre petrol engine.

Mr Dobson hinted that there is potential for this figure to be improved, given appropriate demand for towing among turbodiesel buyers.

“We need to look at market feedback regarding the turbodiesel’s usage in this market, to see if this figure can be improved in future,” he said.

Local evaluation was conducted prior to this week’s launch, but Mr Dobson indicated that a more detailed testing program would be required to adjust the turbodiesel’s official tow rating.

Mr Dobson expressed his confidence that the engine could prove its resilience with no changes to the model’s technical spec.

In the meantime, those wishing to tow with a RAV4 turbodiesel should be very mindful that exceeding maximum tow rating is an offence on any Australian road, and likely void warranty or insurance coverage should an incident arise.



A similar anomaly exists for the tow ratings of the current short and long wheelbase Toyota Prado 4WD wagon models.

The short wheelbase Prado is rated at 3000kg (braked), while the theoretically more stable (under load) long wheelbase models carry a 2500kg maximum braked figure.

This variance is linked to the lighter short wheelbase model’s use of similar (or the same) load-bearing components, such as axles, tyres and drivetrain, as the heavier long wheelbase Prado.

The result is a greater gross combination mass (5570kg vs 5490kg) rating for the short wheelbase Prado, which is a key factor in determining a vehicle’s tow rating.

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