The 2019 RAV4 improves on its predecessor in nearly every aspect, we take a look at the changes.
The New RAV4 made its debut at the New York International Motor Show and we were very pleased to see some great new changes to Toyota’s best-selling model. Aside from the quite obvious visual changes, the small SUV that created the segment is once again aiming to lead the field with a range of under-the-skin advancements. We took a closer look at the improvements and came away impressed, take a read through our 10 top RAV4 facts and decide for yourself whether Toyota is once again set to reclaim the segment for itself.
The previous RAV4 preferred an understated exterior design that provided few visual thrills. The latest design is far more modern and aggressive, featuring more pronounced wheel-arch covers and a big, upright grille that would not look out of place on a much larger SUV. The visual differences between trim levels is quite marked too: Adventure trim will appeal to the outdoorsy types while XLE trim levels offer a more upmarket urban look and feel.
The standard equipment levels have been enhanced with the latest Entune 3.0 infotainment system and better smartphone connectivity. Amazon Alexa connectivity will be available too and Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 will further enhance safety levels with pedestrian warning, lane departure warning and pre-collision systems. Drivetrain wise, the previous 6-speed automatic transmission has been replaced by a new 8-speed unit on the gasoline powered models while the hybrid offerings will retain a CVT transmission.
The base engine is going to remain a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder unit and while power figures are not available just yet, the previous unit produced 176 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. Toyota claims that the new unit will produce slightly more power than this and will also offer better fuel economy and performance. Some of the gains must surely be down to that new transmission but do not expect a road-burning sports SUV.
If you want more power then an all-new performance hybrid is also be on offer. The hybrid RAV4 will combine the 2.5-liter engine with an electric motor to boost both power and torque while promising even lower consumption figures. The previous Hybrid offered 194 hp and a very commendable 34 mpg in city driving conditions, both of which should be surpassed by the new model. This powertrain will be AWD and mated to a CVT transmission once again so we will have to see whether this gearbox detracts from the driving experience or not.
Toyota’s move away from diesel power (it plans to end all diesel-powered passenger car offerings by the end of 2018) means that the RAV4 is highly unlikely to be offered with a diesel powerplant either in the States or in Europe. In truth, this is not a big deal for US customers as the previous-generation RAV4 didn’t have a diesel either. The Hybrid offering will be the default choice for those looking for the best economy and Toyota claims that it will be class-leading in this regard.
AWD is an option in the 2019 RAV4 which will please customers who plan to do more than just commute to work and back. To improve its capabilities even further, the AWD system now features torque vectoring for the first time and to keep the efficiency levels as high as possible rear-axle disconnect is also a brand-new feature. A Multi-Terrain Select system will allow drivers to optimize the drivetrain for varying off-road conditions.
The RAV4 is based on the new Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform which it shares with a number of other Toyota products such as the Camry sedan. It is a more space-efficient design and despite being slightly shorter overall, the wheelbase is now longer and the car a little wider, which means more interior space. The RAV4 remains a 5-seater so the rear row and cargo space have benefited from the increased interior dimensions.
Another benefit of the TNGA platform is the introduction of a new Multi-Link rear suspension, which should improve both handling and comfort levels. This layout is standard on both the FWD and AWD trim levels and along with the torque vectoring system should bring the RAV4 more in line with the sportier offerings in the segment.
The interior has received a big makeover. Gone are the rotary air vents, replaced with rectangular units that are more visually cohesive with the updated dashboard design. A large infotainment screen sits atop the center of the dash, replacing the smaller integrated unit. Higher trim levels offer quality materials and the overall feel from behind the wheel is of a small SUV that is a pleasant mix of functionality and luxury.
Aside from the lack of a diesel offering, the new RAV4 will not be available with a manual transmission option. The gasoline model is available solely with an 8-speed auto and the hybrid gets the aforementioned CVT. Another omission from the options sheet is a turbocharged engine. Toyota has not commented on whether it will be introducing one at a later stage but judging from the rest of the range it is highly unlikely. Honda offer a turbocharged engine in the new CR-V but rivals like Subaru’s Forester and Nissan’s Rogue are powered by 4-cylinder engines very similar to the RAV4’s.