Let’s start with the basics. The RAV4 is bigger these days. It is now 14 inches longer and is only a little over 3 inches shorter than its bigger brother the Highlander. The overall shape and proportions seem the same so the size increase is deceptive, but it is rapidly becoming a pretty large little truck.

That means it is a pretty roomy little truck. In fact, as I spent a week in the splendid little Toyota, I found myself wondering just who needs more? I know, if you have more than two kids or haul a lot of life debris on a regular basis, you might. But let’s all be brutally honest in this era of expensive gas. The class of vehicle represented by the RAV4 and its competitors is more than adequate for most of the sport ute buyers out there.

The shape is angular and quite attractive. Now, our Platinum all-wheel-drive model had all the bells and whistles, and a price to match, but we’ll get to that.

The cabin of the new RAV4 is just plain gorgeous. The dash sloped down from the right side toward the middle and is a two-tiered affair. The instruments are in a separate binnacle that is very traditional. It is both futuristic and classic at the same time. All the seats were covered in very durable-looking, two-tone leather and were both firm and comfortable.

Power comes from the standard 2.5-liter dual-overhead-cam engine which cranks out 176 horsepower. No manual tranny is offered, and that’s a shame. A slick Toyota stick shift would wring out all the performance you could ever want. As is, depending on the model, you get either a shiftless, constant velocity transmission, or a slick, 6-speed automatic.

On the road, and through a bit of snow here, the RAV4 was tough and handled those chores easily. It’s not a mountain goat, and not meant for serious off-roading.

But for heading out to the country and getting off the beaten path, you couldn’t find a more comfortable way to go.

The RAV 4 ranges from a base price of $24,410 to just over $36,000 for the high zoot Platinum model.

In between there are no less than 7 regular and hybrid models including the new Adventure edition.

That’s a lot of scratch, but the new Toyota RAV4 is now playing against bigger boys. It has become a legitimate competitor for what we used to call “mid-sized” sport utility vehicles.

So as you look at a Grand Cherokee or Explorer, you might just check it out and see if the RAV4 fits the bill. It certainly would rack up lower gas bills.

It’s official now. This is all getting very confusing.