Toyota drove the boring out of the 2019 RAV4. The sales leader among compact SUVs is likely to soar past a half-million sales by 2020 and extend its dominance as the best-selling vehicle in America that isn’t designed for a gun rack. It’s that good. The 2019 RAV4 looks better outside and feels better inside. Toyota has a nearly complete driver assist/safety system standard on all trim lines. A hybrid RAV4 is just $800 more than its gasoline counterpart. The Adventure RAV4 will make Subaru Forester owners sit up and take notice.
The RAV4’s faults are few: The four-cylinder engine gets buzzy when pushed, there’s no turbo for added oomph, and the V6 RAV4 remains gone and will not be coming back. Instead, for performance, Toyota points you to the hybrid trim lines that use the electric motor as a turbo to make the RAV4 hit 60 mph quickly and then settle down to return 40 mpg at steady highway cruising speed.
Drive the new RAV4 and you’ll be taken immediately by the big step up in cockpit quality, noise control, and — yes — driving enjoyment. Back seat passengers are comfortable even on medium-long trips, although tall rear-seat passengers make take issue with Toyota’s lowering the roofline (and the roof rack above) by an inch for a sleeker look.
I was impressed by how well all the all-wheel-drive RAV4s handled unpaved roads and undulating terrain, even the hybrids with gas-engine power in front and electric drive in back. The non-hybrids have mechanical torque vectoring to distribute power the wheels that need it. On the higher trim lines, the driveshaft decouples to reduce friction. Toyota estimates fuel economy will range from 41 mpg city, 37 mpg highway, 39 mpg combined for all hybrid RAV4s down to 24/32/27 for the Adventure and Limited AWD grades. All other models should get about 29 mpg combined.
The Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite has a measure of self-driving on highways between adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and what Toyota calls lane tracing assist, which essentially steers the vehicle toward the center of the lane. It’s useful on road trips and in dense commuter traffic. TSS 2.0 also includes a pre-collision warning and braking system, automatic high beams, and road sign recognition. TSS lacks blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert (and braking), but it’s standard on all but the entry trim line, where it’s a $500 option. Toyota (and Honda) are taking the lead in providing key safety features standard or near-standard, and embarrassing premium automakers.
Toyota also has embedded telematics, which includes the ability to track your car from your smartphone, or to query battery state of charge or gasoline levels from Amazon Alexa, but only on Android phones. Conversely, Toyota offers Apple CarPlay but not Android Auto. Toyota believes Android needs more robust security.
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 may well be the best compact mainstream SUV overall without being best in any one category other than predicted reliability and predicted hybrid reliability. The Mazda CX-5 is better at handling and providing a class-above cockpit. The Subaru Forester has been (in the past, at least) a more capable light-duty off-roader and snow-country vehicle. The Honda CR-V and the Kia Sportage/Hyundai Tucson are desirable all-around vehicles; the CR-V in the past has been seen as sportier than the RAV4 until now. Nissan Rogue is one of the price leaders and offers ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous driving.
In the past, the RAV4 gave you appliance-like reliability and good fuel economy. Toyota stepped up the game with generation five: a sportier feel, much-improved interior, better ride and handling, onboard telematics, and the safety suite. If you want performance, there’s no turbo-four, but the hybrid’s electric motor does the same thing and you’ll likely top 40 mpg on the highway.
If you’re comparison shopping in the compact SUV market, the RAV4 is a must-drive. Which one? If you’re a bargain-hunter and look at the entry LE, make sure you get one with the $590 blind spot detection option; every other trim line has it standard. But you probably should start with the XLE for $1,800 more. The RAV4 Adventure is a reasonable off-roader — here, off-roading doesn’t mean rock-crawling — that competes with the Subaru Forester and Jeep Cherokee (as well as the less-regarded Jeep Compass). Among US-flagged automakers, the Ford Escape and Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain are worth looking at. If you’re looking at a performance RAV4, that would be the XSE.
Toyota was the pioneer in the compact SUV market 22 years ago, back in 1996. It took 10 years to hit 100,000 sales per year, eight more to get to 200,000, and just five more (to 2017) to double sales to almost 408,000 last year. Now, the RAV4 is poised to be the first vehicle in a long time to sell more than 500,000 units a year, other than the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Suburban, and (formerly Dodge) RAM pickups. The RAV4 is riding the wave from sedans to crossovers/SUVs, downsizing from large to medium, and even more so from medium (usually a sedan) to compact.
To get a no headaches car buying experience you can reach me:
Gabriel Rosentall – Product Advisor at Regency Toyota Vancouver
Cell: 236 863 2192 – call or text