I recently spent a week driving the 2019 Toyota RAV4 AWD Adventure. Toyota’s cute little one is big and all new for 2019.
The Toyota RAV4 is not only one of the best-selling crossovers on the market, it is also one of the best-selling vehicles overall. With 427,170 sales in 2018, and on track to match or surpass this mark in 2019, the RAV4 is by far Toyota’s best-selling vehicle.
The first generation RAV4 (4WD Active Recreational Vehicle) arrived in the United States as a 1996 model, followed by the second generation in 2001, the third generation in 2006, and the fourth generation in 2013. The crossover compact grew and matured. over the years, ditching its ‘cute’ look with a body cladding and side-hinged tailgate with an externally mounted full-size spare tire for a more mature look with a top-hinged tailgate and spare tire compact hidden under the loading floor.
My test vehicle was an Adventure trim model with a base price of $ 32,900. Plenty of options including Adventure Grade Weather Package ($ 1,185), Power Tilt / Slide Sunroof ($ 850), Adventure Grade Technology Package ($ 1,265), Entune 3.0 Premium Audio, Dynamic Nav and JBL ($ 1,620), two-tone paint ($ 500)), carpeted floor mats / cargo mats ($ 269) and a shipping, handling and handling charge of $ 1,045 drove up the net profit at $ 39,634 – very mature, indeed.
A new Dynamic Force 2.5-liter inline-four gasoline engine powers the RAV4, tuned to produce 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. It uses direct gasoline injection, is naturally aspirated (no turbo) and runs on 87 octane unleaded regular gasoline. It has four valves per cylinder and two overhead camshafts, each with variable valve timing. A new eight-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission replaces the old six-speed automatic. No manual transmission option is offered. With front-wheel drive, the gasoline-powered RAV4 is rated to achieve 26-27 mpg city / 34 mpg highway / 29 mpg combined. With all-wheel drive, the ratings are a bit lower at 26 mpg city / 33 mpg highway / 29 mpg combined. There is also a hybrid RAV4 available for 2019, with an EPA fuel economy rating of 41 mpg city / 37 mpg hwy / 39 mpg combined. The Adventure AWD I have driven has been rated at 25 mpg city / 33 mpg highway / 28 mpg combined.
The RAV4 is a compact crossover vehicle. It fits into Toyota’s SUV lineup between the mid-size C-HR and Highlander subcompact crossovers, and below the 4Runner, Sequoia and Land Cruiser SUVs. The RAV4 is built on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA-K) platform, the same configuration that underpins the Camry and Avalon sedans, as well as the Lexus ES. This platform is a frameless unibody design and mounts the engine transversely at the front. It has a longer wheelbase and wider track than the outgoing fourth-gen RAV4, as well as significantly higher ground clearance than before (8.4-8.6 inches vs. 6.1-6.5 inches ).
Toyota says the goal of the RAV4 redesign was to convey “adventure and refinement.” OK. For RAV4 observers, the new RAV4 stands out with more chiseled details. The wheel arches, formerly smooth arches, have been flattened at the top for a more trucker look. Likewise, the front fascia is more linear, with a new grille that is almost flat and perpendicular to the road. Expressive stock multi-LED headlights stick out of the fenders and the fog lights are deeply recessed into the lower openings of my Adventure model. At the rear, a top-hinged tailgate carries large rectangular LED taillights that echo those of the big brother 4Runner. Inside, a very well-balanced dashboard with a horizontally layered appearance and a center-mounted touchscreen is, according to the design brief, very refined. The Adventure trim receives special orange interior accents that add spice to the dashboard, seats and door panels.
The RAV4 uses four-wheel independent suspension, typical of crossover vehicles. Up front you’ll find MacPherson struts with a sway bar, while at the rear, a triangular-style multi-link rear setup with a sway bar handles bumps and ruts. The steering is electric, powered by a motor mounted on the rack of the rack and pinion system.
My all-wheel-drive Adventure model was equipped with Multi-Terrain Select, a system that allows riders to switch on the fly from standard modes to Mud and Sand or Rock and Dirt modes for better off-road performance.
The RAV4 receives the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) as standard. The safety package includes a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS with PD), Dynamic Full Speed Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist (LDA with SA), Automatic High Beam (AHB), Lane Keeping Assist (LTA) and Traffic Signaling Assistant (RSA). All trim levels except the LE get a Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Rear Cross Traffic Braking (TCTB) as standard – optional on the THE. XLE and above can add Intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS), which is standard on Limited. Eight airbags are standard, along with Toyota’s Star safety system. Hill Descent Control and Trailer Sway Control are also standard, and a nifty digital rearview mirror system that replaces the reflected view with an image captured by a rear camera is available.
The new gasoline engine is crisp, although it sounds a bit harsh when pushed hard. The eight-speed automatic transmission is well matched to the engine power. My AWD RAV4 included Dynamic Torque Vectoring, a system that can direct up to 50% of the engine’s power to the rear wheels and move it side to side, depending on the needs of the vehicle, thus improving the feel and handling when cornering. The best feature of this grown-up RAV4 is that rare personality trait for a compact crossover: it’s fun to drive.
The RAV4 has made a big leap into its fifth generation, and should attract even more buyers without abandoning its loyal followers. There are other compact crossovers to consider, including the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Chevrolet Equinox, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Ford Escape, and Mazda CX-5.
Some potential buyers may experience sticker shock when they see that a loaded 2019 Toyota RAV4 AWD Adventure is approaching $ 40,000. A base RAV4 LE starts at $ 26,450, so there’s plenty of room between the goalposts. As a longtime Toyota 4Runner fan, I have always looked beyond the RAV4 when considering the Toyota SUV lineup. The new RAV4 AWD Adventure, however, eventually grew to the point where my head could be turned.