Toyota's New Rally Supercar Is...A RAV4?

Toyota could beat Ford in the Rally America Championship with a sort-of stock RAV4 SUV

Remind me later
Toyota's New Rally Supercar Is...A RAV4? - Blog

A few weeks ago I got a call from Toyota, asking if I’d l like to hang with them at the Lake Superior Performance Rally - the final round of the Rally America championship located in the far northern reaches of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Seems they are aware that I’m something of a rally fan.

The full story of this whole rally adventure will be coming soon, complete with photos and a play-by-play of what it was like to ride shotgun in the co-driver seat for some proper rally hot laps. For now here’s what you need to know: Toyota’s driver is Ryan Millen, and yes, he’s part of the Millen clan that includes legendary racers Rod Millen (his dad) and Rhys Millen (his brother). He’s had a rather successful year in Rally America’s 2WD category, and as I type this, he’s in a winner-take-all battle for the 2WD championship with a day’s worth of stages still to go.

Toyota's New Rally Supercar Is...A RAV4? - Blog

That may not be all that extraordinary, but here’s the thing. You know Toyota’s neat-but-not-exciting RAV4 sport-ute? Turns out it can be pretty exciting - Ryan and co-driver Christina Fate have been winning races with it all year, and aside from some obvious suspension tweaks, it’s pretty much a factory-stock RAV4. That includes stock brakes, stock 180bhp engine, and yes, the stock automatic transmission. Meanwhile, his competition is fielding a Ford Fiesta with a turbo, a manual gearbox, and roughly 350kg less mass.

Photo courtesy Toyota
Photo courtesy Toyota

I’ve been spending the weekend with Toyota watching this all unfold. Look for the full story coming soon.