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Toyota Motor Corporation (TM - Analyst Report) has introduced the new RAV4 cross utility vehicle (CUV) at the recently held Los Angeles Auto Show. The new vehicle is set to hit the market in January 2013.

The 2013 RAV4 features the four-cylinder engine, identical to the one in the Toyota Camry, instead of the V6 engine. Thus, the engine of the new RAVR produces 176 horsepower, which is 3 horsepower less than the 2012 model.

The vehicle is also equipped with six-speed transmission, which provides 31 miles per gallon (mpg) on highway compared to 28 mpg of the 2012 model, thus improving fuel efficiency.

Toyota has introduced the Dynamic Torque Control system with the new CUV.  This improves the performance of the vehicle by allocating more power to the rear wheels when the vehicle is turning.

The CUV also provides a sophisticated and sleek styling to the customers. It features roof-hinged liftgate compared to the side-hinged rear door in the previous models. The cargo area is deeper and larger than the earlier version of RAV4.

According to sources, the company plans to sell 200,000 units of RAV4s, up from an expected sale of 170,000 units in 2012. The new vehicle from Toyota is set to compete with Honda Motor Co.’s (HMC - Analyst Report) CR V.

Toyota witnessed a more than three-fold increase in its profit to ¥257.92 billion ($3.28 billion) or ¥81.44 ($1.04) per share in the second quarter of fiscal year ended September 30, 2012, from ¥80.42 billion or ¥25.65 in the same quarter of prior fiscal year.

The growth was attributable to strong demand for Toyota vehicles as well as positive impact from the company’s cost control measures. However, the earnings per share were lower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.62 per share. Revenues grew 18.2% to ¥5.41 trillion ($68.75 billion) in the quarter on a 14.9% growth in sales volume to 2.16 million units.

Toyota is the leading automaker in the world. Its product portfolio consists of a full range of models from passenger cars, minivans, trucks as well as related parts and accessories.

Despite better results, the company currently retains a short-term Zacks #4 Rank (Sell) as it remains exposed to global economic weakness and problems in China, which is one of its biggest markets.

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