Yes it's almost that time; like when your faithful old phone or television becomes out of date - your attention is then drawn to finding something newer, trendier, self-fulfilling enough to make the neighbors envious.
Insert Toyota and its popular crossover here; the current RAV4 is fast growing a few grey hairs and has lost some of its youthfulness of yesteryear. Not wanting its direct competitors to seize on this, the boffins at Toyota have been working hard on its next generation of their popular compact SUV.
This hard work has become more apparent in recent months with numerous camouflaged spy photos hitting the cyberspace. Based on those photos, I have created an illustration that previews the new design direction for the 2013 Toyota RAV4.
Gone is the upright stance of old; replaced by a steeply raked cabin that looks to have been shaped by a wind tunnel stuck on hurricane setting. This sleekness has also transferred onto the sheet metal; there are now more contemporary creases and stylized lines - the outgoing model in comparison looks like it had too many deep-fried pies.
What you can't see here is the banishment of the tailgate mounted full-size spare; with it now being out of sight the tail-lights now span horizontally like the Camry's.
At the business end, the grill and headlights take on the corporate look that will adorn the upcoming Corolla/Auris series.
It may not be the most attractive nose, but does have an interesting chrome bar running from the headlights into the grill. There's even a hint of the Lexus 'spindle' grill in the front bumper, although some could argue that the designers had a fondness for pinched cheeks.
Overall the design is a much more contemporary effort; but one has to ask - is it enough to make the neighbors envious? It certainly has some strong opponents; with the latest generations of the Ford Escape / Kuga, Mazda CX-5, and Honda CRV being no duds in the beauty stakes.
Regardless of where it sits in the style rankings, Toyota has always had a popular recipe with the RAV4, and one can bet they are not going to sabotage it by using dog meat.