Toyota unveiled its RAV4 rally car at the Monster Energy Supercross Championship finale last week held at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Ryan Millen, who won the 2014 Baja 1000 in a Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, will drive the RAV4 rally vehicle at various rally races including some of the 2015 Rally America 2WD-Open Class season.
A RAV4 competing within a professional racing series is rare. It is even rarer to see the unibody-construction, small-sport utility vehicle (SSUV) go head-to-head with Rally America’s modified streetcars. Toyota’s entry into Rally America is a modified 2015 Toyota RAV4 LE. The vehicle sports a stock transmission and a stock 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, double-overhead cam engine that produces 176 hp and 172
pounds of torque. Millen and his crew removed more than 500 pounds of stock weight, while adding a roll cage and BFGoodrich all-terrain DOT 215/75R15 tires, and upgrading to TEIN for the front and rear suspension systems.
“And I’ve been very impressed with the RAV4’s tight, compact body and smooth handling,” Millen said.
The RAV4 literally created the SSUV category when it was introduced by Toyota in 1994. At that time, the notion of a unibody construction SSUV was unheard of. Since its introduction, unibody-construction SUVs have become a standard offering across the automotive industry.
While widely known as a practical version of the more-cumbersome SUV, RAV4’s lighter and leaner design allows it to perform and handle quite effectively for desert, beach and other outdoor excursions. It’s for this reason Toyota is showcasing the RAV4 so dynamically in the form of this entry in the Rally America Series.
“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 and Communications manager.
Son of off-road legend Rod Millen, Ryan Millen has been involved in Toyota Racing since childhood. From chasing for Ivan Stewart and racing in MTEG Stadium races at nine-years old, to racing the FJ Cruiser in the Baja 1000, he has poured his life and professional racing career into Toyota.
Millen will be entering into numerous races including some of the Rally America West Series, where he’ll be competing in the 2WD stock class with the rally-built Toyota RAV4. The tentative schedule is: 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; and Mount Hood Rally – October 17.