Toyota Hoping for Success in ‘Family-Friendly’ RAV4 Rally Car

When it comes to rallying, few people would expect to see a day-to-day SSUV compete, but that’s exactly what Toyota are intending to enter in this year’s Rally America.

The concept is simple: take a bog-standard Toyota RAV4 LE, make a handful of modifications and then compete in the 2015 season of Rally America. At least that’s what off-road racing driver Ryan Millen intends to do anyway.

Having recently won the 2014 Baja 1000 race in a super-modified Toyota Tundra pickup, Ryan wants to go a step further and see if it’s possible to compete in a vehicle that’s more often seen waiting outside school gates than rallying.

The car itself started life as a base production model, but Millen and his team transformed it into the seriously cool looking rally car you can see above. By gutting the car and removing anything that was unnecessary, Millen’s team managed to shave 500 pounds off the overall weight.

A full roll cage has been fitted and the original cloth-upholstered seats have been replaced by a pair of lightweight bucket seats. A set of 15-inch black alloy wheels with BFGoodrich all-terrain tyres have been added and the crossover has also gained a number of TEIN suspension parts to not only lower the RAV, but also stiffen the ride.

Perhaps most surprising is that Toyota have not modified the engine in any way and Millen’s machine will simply boast a standard 2.5-litre four cylinder RAV4-sourced engine, capable of outputting around 176-horsepower. And it will output this power to the front wheels only using a six-speed automatic transmission as the crossover was built for the 2WD-Open Class.

The Idaho Rally is expected to be the RAV’s maiden voyage on June 13, but to achieve glory the crossover will need to see off competition from cars like Subaru WRXs and Ford Fiestas.

While a family-oriented SUV may not seem like the ideal rally car, Toyota aren’t letting that dampen their spirits. Alex Du, RAV4 vehicle marketing and communications manager, said: “Over the years, RAV4 has become known more for its benefits as a practical family vehicle alternative to a larger SSUV, and we felt it was due time that its performance and handling characteristics were put on display.”

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