The designation of Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) has been around for about 30 years now, before that we just referred to these as trucks & Jeeps. With a fast growing popularity for these versatile, but mostly behemoth vehicles, Toyota took the SUV a step further in 1994 (1996 in North America) and designed the more urban sized RAV4 (Recreational Active Vehicle 4-wheel drive), although the 4WD was an option rather than standard equipment. This compact sized SUV set the stage for other entries to the market, and created yet another term... Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV).
This kit from Aoshima
appears to be a first generation RAV4 (1994-2000) with the SXA10 designation, and can be built as either the L or J version. Finding what the actual difference in these versions are has been confusing, to say the least. Aoshima's canned history on the box states the J stands for Joyful and L for Liberty, still quite meaningless. Different front grills are used for each version so I'll trust the instructions on which variant to build. The other main point of this kit is that it is right hand drive, so this would be rare in my neck of the woods.
Packed in a slip top box are the following:
• Body molded in white
• 3 sprues molded in white
• 2 sprues molded in black
• 2 chrome sprues
• Clear sprue
• 5 tires
• Decal sheet
• Fold out instructions
The sprues are actually broken down into 12 letter designations. The build spans 15 steps with an additional 4 steps of optional equipment. Paint callouts are for GSI Creos with the colors being very common. Body color is for Cobalt Blue and is the only option given, a year by year color chart can be found here:
RAV4 color chart
Note that the 2001-04 Gen 1 is the EV model, not the gas engine version that makes up this kit.
Being a curbside model, the body is molded complete with the hood and doors. The panel lines are well defined and appear deep enough that extra scribing should not be necessary. Interesting to note that the body color areas are molded high gloss with the matte gray sections such as the lower door panels and bumpers having a duller appearance. I couldn't find any sink marks on the body, although a couple of front to back seam lines will need attention as well as a bit of clean up around the front and rear windows. All in all, the one piece body is very well done and prep work should be minimal.
The chassis pan has some molded in details with other suspension and drivetrain components added separately. Parts count is kept to a minimum but the detail should be more than sufficient for the underside. The front wheels will be able to be turned which is always a nice feature. Any pin marks that are present are confined to unseen areas, and general clean up on the parts should be easily accomplished.
The interior tub has the center console and rear seat bottoms molded in. One piece front seats simplify construction although eliminates a reclining position. Decals are included for the fabric areas of the seats. The dashboard looks good and has a decal for the gauge cluster. All body glass is molded together with the door windows in the up position.
Exterior body details include front and rear wipers as separate parts, a choice of front grills depending on what version you choose, side view mirrors and rear spare tire mount. A very nice addition to this kit is the choice of three different wheel styles; stock wheels and sport wheels molded in white along with custom chromies for those that want to go that route. Each style has its own spare tire rim to mount on the rear. Four poly caps are included to mount the wheels and keep them rolling. The five Bridgestone Mud Dueler tires have raised lettering and a nice tread pattern. A center seam line will need to be removed, but due to its placement this shouldn't be too awful bad.
Optional accessories include a ladder that can be mounted over the spare wheel which is probably a good match for the roof mounted luggage rack. The luggage rack does have some pin marks on the detailed side which is a shame. Two different front push bars are included, one with brush guards and one without. Both have separate off road lights and one has a skid plate.
The instructions are well laid out with none of the steps very busy, actually quite simple. Paint callouts are easy to follow and construction should go smoothly.
This looks to be a very nice kit of the RAV4, Aoshima did a great job all around. Molding is clean and crisp, plenty of options to individualize your ride and excellent instructions. If you're looking to add a compact utility vehicle to your stable put this one at the top of your list.
A quick look at an upgrade set for this kit can be found here:
Hobby Design RAV4 upgrade