2019 Toyota RAV4 Preview
By Liz Kim, March 28, 2018
- All-new version of the popular compact crossover
- Standard 4-cylinder and hybrid powerplants
- New XSE Hybrid trim level
- New infotainment and safety technology
- In dealer showrooms in winter of 2018
- Hybrid model will debut in early 2019
In 1994, Toyota introduced the RAV4 compact crossover utility vehicle to America. Cute, useful and fun to drive, it instantly became a hit, as well as the progenitor to the crossover wave that dominates the automotive market today.
In the ensuing years, the RAV4 became Toyota’s most popular vehicle, as well as the best-selling car (not counting pickups) in America in 2017. For 2019, Toyota presents the fifth-generation RAV4, which faces a landscape teeming with legions of excellent competitors. If it’s as good to drive as it looks, we see no reason why it can’t retain its sales crown.
The newest RAV4 loses some of its previous funkiness, and wears a much more serious and sober mien. Angles, creases and curves carved into sheetmetal, and especially the angular wheel arches, keeps visual interest high, finishing off with a neat kink in the integrated spoiler in the rear hatch. Short front and rear overhangs helps with a sporty stance, as do the upgraded 19-inch wheels.
The wheelbase has been increased by 1.2 inches, and is wider by 0.4 inches, but is just a hair shorter overall in both length and height. Toyota is pushing a two-tone color scheme, with the A-pillar and roof contrasting against the body color, which will be available for certain trim levels.
Inside, we see a fairly conventional interior, with a tablet-style touchscreen, buttons and knobs for primary functions and a shift knob for the transmission. The Adventure trim level receives orange accents and stitching to make it stand out.
Toyota has yet to release cargo room numbers, but we expect that we will see an increase over the 2018 version.
Trim level conventions should remain consistent with last year, with LE, XLE, Adventure, SE, and Limited. There is no longer a Platinum trim level, but there is a new XSE Hybrid trim level gives you more power, along with tighter shocks and springs.
Cool new features, like a Digital Display Rearview Mirror that, as the name suggests, gives you a backward view on your rearview mirror, keep the RAV4 relevant to tech-addled car buyers. Other options included ventilated and heated front seats, heated rear seats, a hands-free power liftgate, an 11-speaker JBL audio system, and a panoramic sunroof.
Under the Hood:
Two engines choices power the RAV4. The first is a 2.5-liter inline four cylinder engines, which is matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission. There’s also a 2.5-liter inline-four cylinder hybrid engine that’s mated to a CVT. While Toyota didn’t give specific numbers, these are engines that motivate other Toyotas,
The RAV4 boasts a structure that increases structural rigidity by 57 percent, aiding in handling and athleticism. Ground clearance is raised half an inch, all the better to tackle unpaved roads should you choose a model equipped with AWD.
Three systems are available: a standard AWD for base versions, and an AWD with Intelligence for the hybrid model. On the Limited and Adventure trim levels for the gas engines, you’ll get a new Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive with Rear Driveline Disconnect, which can send power to the left or right wheel, and send 50 percent of torque to the rear for enhanced traction.
Every RAV4 comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) suite of safety technologies, which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning with steering assist. Newer safety features include a Lane Tracing Assist which helps keep the RAV4 in the center of the lane, and Road Sign Assist, which identifies signs like speed limits, stop and yield signs and gives you a visual and audible alert to keep you apprised.
Available safety technology includes blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert and a rear cross traffic braking system.
Toyota equips the RAV4 with its Entune 3.0 infotainment system. The most significant aspect is that it’s finally equipped with Apple CarPlay smartphone projection, although Android Autos still seems to be MIA. It gives you remote access through Amazon Alexa, and features a Wi-Fi hotspot. Up to five USB charging ports are available, as is a Qi wireless charging pad. A 7-inch touchscreen is standard, and you can upgrade to an 8-inch touchscreen with a navigation system.