We recently spent a day reviewing the all-wheel drive '15 Toyota RAV4. To our surprise, it wasn't your typical soccer mom's grocery-getter. The small SUV is built to be durable and it's also not afraid to handle some dirt, mud and rocks. A RAV4? Seriously? Yes, we all had our doubts but we can't lie...the thing has balls! You can read about our off-road adventure here. But to really hammer the point home, Toyota decided to put the RAV4 into motorsport - something no one would have ever imagined twenty years ago when the compact SUV was introduced in North America.
On the first weekend of May '15, Toyota unveiled its RAV4 rally car at the Monster Energy Supercross Championship finale at Sam Boyd Stadium in Vegas. The builder and driver of the vehicle would be none other than Ryan Millen, winner of his class at the '14 Baja 1000 in a Tundra TRD Pro. He also has several other accomplishments we should note such as being a trophy truck test driver and coach and also placing first in his class at the Vegas to Reno off-road race. With that said, Toyota would be in good hands for the first time entering the '15 Rally America 2WD-Open Class season in a RAV4.
Now wait a minute...2WD? Yep, you read that right. While we were personally impressed by the RAV's all-wheel drive system, Ryan's SUV will be rocking the front-wheel drive LE model. What's most amazing about this rally racer is how many stock parts are maintained, for example the six-speed automatic - stock; the 2.5L four-cylinder, dual-overhead cam engine - stock. One would think a rally car has tons of horsepower but in Ryan's case, he's planning to make due with 176hp and 172 lb-ft of torque from the stock motor. In rally, sometimes it's more important to finish the race reliably than finish a certain stage in the fastest time.
Some of the more important modifications include the TEIN front and rear suspension, BFGoodrich all-terrain tires and overall weight reduction. In total, 500 lbs off were shaved off the stock curb weight which takes into account of the rollcage addition.
"Over the years, RAV4 has become known more for its benefits as a practical family-vehicle alternative to a larger SUV, and we felt it was due time that its performance and handling characteristics were put on display," said Alex Du, RAV4 Vehicle Marketing & Communications Manager. "That will undoubtedly be the case with Ryan Millen at the wheel of this incredible Rally RAV4."
Millen will enter a number of Rally America races this year. We wish him the best of luck!
Ryan's schedule includes:
- Idaho Rally - June 13-14
- Mendocino Rally - July 18-19
- Rally Utah - August 7-8
- Gorman Ridge Rally - August 22
- Prescott Rally - October 2-3
- Mt Hood Rally - October 17