2019 Toyota RAV4 Review

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2019 Toyota RAV4 Overview

As more consumers turn to SUVs and crossovers, the Toyota RAV4 has become an important component in the brand’s total sales numbers, as it’s now the most popular Toyota. It saw a full redesign in 2013, followed up by a major refresh in 2016. For 2019, the model gets a complete redesign.

Since its inception, the RAV4 creates an exterior theme which has always been one of sportiness and fun, and the 2019 exudes those qualities to an even greater effect. The front end mimics that of the brand’s capable off-roaders, the 4Runner and Tacoma. Every one of the panels is chiseled and creased in a way that is both chaotic and organized, and there’s a creative blend of painted and black plastic elements. Thanks to the new TNGA architecture, also used by the new Camry and Prius, the overall design is lower and wider, for more-flattering proportions. The wheelbase grows 1.2 inches, width grows 0.4 inches, and height shrinks 0.2 inches. Still, ground clearance increases by more than half an inch. Toyota also says the whole package is 57 percent more rigid than that of the outgoing RAV4, providing improvements in handling, noise intrusion and ride comfort.

The old RAV4’s interior drew complaints for not feeling appropriately premium for the class. That shouldn’t be the case with the new one, since its design is both upscale and distinctive. Everything looks squared-off and adventure-ready, from the upright, linear dashboard, to the blocky switchgear, to myriad rubberized storage consoles for things like sunglasses, phones and brochures. Features like a power parking brake and compact gear lever free up space in the center console. The seats, all five of them, are well-padded and bolstered, and the rear bench splits 60/40 and folds neatly into the floor.

Five of the RAV4’s trims, LE, XLE, Adventure, SE and Limited, return for 2019. Each of these receive unique styling elements and progressively-nicer levels of equipment, but one feature that’s standard across all trims is Toyota’s Entune 3.0 system with a 7-inch touchscreen and up to five USB ports. Entune 3.0 bundles Wi-Fi hotspot capability through Verizon, and Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration. Entune 3.0 Audio Plus adds a nicer sound system and an 8-inch touchscreen. And Entune 3.0 Premium Audio brings Internet-enabled navigation to the driver’s fingertips. Some of the RAV4’s other options include a panoramic sunroof, a Qi wireless charger, a hands-free power liftgate, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and even an LCD-based rearview mirror.

The sole engine for the 2019 RAV4 is a revised 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder with a giant list of improvements, coupled to an efficiency-optimized 8-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard, with AWD available. The AWD system drives the front wheels until a loss of traction occurs, at which point the rear axle is engaged to some degree. Limited and Adventure models get torque-vectoring control, which can send up to 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels at any time, and even vary the amount of torque between wheels on a particular axle. Toyota has not yet released estimates for fuel economy.

Safety-wise, the RAV4 puts a near-full deck of safety technologies on the table, courtesy of Toyota Safety System 2.0. This latest version includes a reversing camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control that operates between 0 and 110 mph, lane departure warning, lane tracing assist, automatic high beams, and traffic sign recognition. From there, available upgrades include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a surround-view camera system, and rear cross-traffic braking.

The 2019 RAV4 is a measured improvement over its predecessor. The styling gives it the substance and class of a much-larger SUV or crossover, and it defends its title as the adventurous crossover. That said, there’s still plenty of practicality, functionality, luxury, and safety. Look for the new RAV4 to arrive in dealerships during the end of 2018, followed by the hybrid model in early 2019.

Updated

Kyree is new to the automotive journalism scene, but has voiced snarky public opinions about cars for quite some time. When he's not drooling over the latest European luxury sled, he's designing web experiences or writing backend code.

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