Toyota's RAV4 is a hometown hero

It’s always nice when your peers step up to the plate and salute your achievement, winning one for the home team. And Toyota has just hit a certified dinger in its home market, as its reimagined RAV4 crossover has brought the Asian auto giant its first Japan Car of the Year award in an even decade. A jury of some 60 home-market journalists gave the RAV4 the nod over the Mazda3, with the BMW 3-Series placing third in the balloting and thereby winning the Import Car of the Year honor.

There’s a whole lot that’s new about the new RAV4 behind that aggressive grille. First off is the fact that it’s offered in a TRD version, which stands for Toyota Racing Development, and means that the vehicle receives standard Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD and has a rally-tuned suspension. Improved multimedia and entertainment systems have been added to every RAV4 equipment level, and the RAV4 XLE gets an expanded, higher-capability weather package that includes a windshield-wiper deicer, something yours truly would have killed to have while living in Vermont and upstate New York. The RAV4 holds singular honors in the United States as the market’s top-selling non-pickup small SUV for the last two consecutive years.

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