The Toyota RAV4 is a sport utility vehicle (SUV) produced by Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota. It was the first compact crossover, making its debut in Japan and Europe in 1994 and in North America in 1995. The vehicle was designed for consumers wanting a vehicle that had most of the benefits of SUVs, such as increased cargo room, higher visibility and the option of full-time four-wheel drive, along with the maneuverability and fuel economy of a compact car. Although not all RAV4s are four-wheel drive, RAV4 stands for Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive because the fore-mentioned equipment is an option in select countries. The early success of the RAV4 paved the way for competitive compact crossover-SUVs such as the Ford Escape and the Subaru Forester.
The RAV4 EV is a plug-in, all-electric variant of the RAV4. Produced from 1997 to 2003 for fleet lease, this ‘zero emission’ model was only offered for public sale for seven months in 2002, in very small quantities in California.