For the last 16 years the Toyota Camry has held the top selling car title in the US and for most of that time period it was also Toyota’s best selling vehicle, but times have changed. Sedans have fallen out of the spot light with crossovers now being the preferred choice, which explains why the RAV4 has quickly moved to the top spot, not only in the Toyota brand, but also in the sales charts.
Last year Toyota sold 400,000 RAV4 crossovers, putting it ahead of the Camry, but even if the old RAV4 was still flying out of dealer lots, Toyota decided to not play it safe with the next-generation 2019 RAV4. Not only does the 2019 Toyota RAV4 switch to a new platform, but it’s now probably the most stylish RAV4 that Toyota has ever created.
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 now rides on the brand’s TNGA platform, which is shared with several models, like the Avalon, Camry, C-HR and the Prius. The new platform aims to improve the RAV4’s driving dynamics and to actually make the RAV4 enjoyable to drive, something that the last generation was missing. Toyota also didn’t just stop there with the improved platform, just like the new Avalon and Camry, is trying hard to inject some excitement into its vehicles.
Just take a look at the 2019 RAV4 XSE trim level with its sport-tuned suspension and blacked out trim. The mean looking XSE is also only available in the RAV4 Hybrid, which also happens to be the more powerful version of the two available powertrains. Yup the RAV4 Hybrid is the fun choice.
The TNGA platform is significant because it has gives the RAV4 a 57 percent stiffer structure and lower center of gravity, which aim to make the RAV4 more fun to drive. While the RAV4 is still not as engaging as the Mazda CX-5, it’s a definite improvement over its boring predecessor.
The 2019 RAV4 shares its powertrains with the Camry. The RAV4 is powered by a 2.5L four-cylinder engine that generates 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque. The RAV4 now has more horsepower than the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue, its two biggest rivals. The four-cylinder is mated to an eight-speed automatic, which feels and sounds a lot better than the CVTs you’ll get in the CR-V or Rogue. while the four-cylinder does have more horsepower than its two rivals, the 2.5L does sound a bit more harsh in the RAV4 than in the Camry. During our drive route through the hills in Monterey, California, the engine definitely liked to scream when pushed hard.
The RAV4 Hybrid is powered by a 2.5L four-cylinder and three electric motors to give it a total 219 horsepower. The RAV4 Hybrid comes standard with all-wheel drive, since the rear wheels are electrically powered. With more power than the standard RAV4, the RAV4 Hybrid manages to reach 60 mph in 7.8 seconds compared to 8.2 seconds. Just like the standard RAV4, the RAV4 Hybrid’s powertrain is a bit louder than we expected. The hybrid powertrain also features a CVT, which never manages to sound good.
The 2019 RAV4 is rated at 26/34 mpg with front-wheel drive and 26/33 with all-wheel drive. The Adventure and Limited AWD trim levels are rated at 24/32 mpg. The RAV4 Hybrid is rated at 41 mpg city and 37 mph highway, which is a nice improvement over the standard RAV4.
While Toyota made a big effort to improve the RAV4’s performance on the road, it also didn’t ignore the RAV4’s off-road capability. The 2019 RAV4’s ground clearance has been increased by more than a half-inch to 8.4 inches, while the Adventure trim level rides 8.6 inches aboe the ground. The RAV4 also now offers two all-wheel drive systems for the gas-only versions. The base all-wheel drive system automatically shifts the torque to the rear when the front wheels start slipping, but the upgraded new torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system is the better choice.
The new torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system comes standard on the Adventure and Limited AWD models. It can direct up to 50 percent of the torque to the rear wheels, as well as distribute it to the left or right rear wheel to enhance handling on or off pavement. The system also automatically disconnects the rear axle when it’s not needed to save fuel. Both all-wheel drive systems also feature a new Multi-Terrain Select system with Mud & Sand, Rock & Dirt or Snow modes.
Moving to the inside, the 2019 RAV4’s interior is more stylish with higher quality materials. In the front, most of the areas that you’ll ever touch are covered with soft padding to give the interior a more premium feel than before. The RAV4 is also packed with more technology than before as well with the base model coming standard with a 7-inch touchscreen, while other trim levels get an 8-inch touchscreen right in the middle of the dashboard. The RAV4 also features Wi-Fi connectivity, Amazon Alexa and Apple CarPlay. To keep everyone safe, the RAV4 also comes standard with automatic front braking.
On upper trim levels, you’ll also get new features, like ventilated front seats, a Digital Rearview Mirror, heated rear seats and a panoramic sunroof.
For its fifth generation the 2019 Toyota RAV4 now offers more style, better driving dynamics and more features that will make it hard to beat in this segment.
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 starts at $26,545 for the base front-wheel drive RAV4 LE with the destination fees included. If you add all-wheel drive, the RAV4 LE starts at $27,945. Even better is the fact that the RAV4 Hybrid only costs $800 more than the comparable all-wheel drive gas-only version. The RAV4 Hybrid starts at $28,745.
The 2019 RAV4 gas models will start arriving next month, while the RAV4 Hybrid isn’t coming until March 2019.