AutoIntelligence Staff Preview
2019 Toyota RAV4 The newly redesigned 2019 Toyota RAV4 is a release we have been anxiously awaiting ever since we got a glimpse at the New York International Auto Show in September of last year. When it was released for the first time in 1994, the RAV4 was a spunky new player standing alone in a previously unexplored segment of compact SUVs. Its name stood for “Recreational Activity Vehicle: 4-Wheel Drive,” promising the driving characteristics and fuel economy of a compact car with the cargo space and capability of a four-wheel drive SUV. In the 24 years since its launch the RAV4 has gained countless peers and imitators, from the Honda CR-V to the BMW X1, though it remains a segment pioneer and sales leader.
The RAV4 is a very important car for Toyota and its sales figures make obvious the reason why. Toyota sold over 427,000 examples of the fourth generation RAV4 in 2018, nearly doubling the sales figures from when it was new in 2013. For context, Toyota’s own Camry, the best-selling passenger car in the U.S. from 2002 to 2016, that car sold around 343,000 examples last year. That’s twenty percent less than the new sales champ, the RAV4. All this to say, it’s crucial that Toyota nails it here. Outside, this car’s front end and grille design shows clear inspiration from Toyota’s larger vehicles like the Tundra pickup and the Highlander midsize SUV. Toyota utilizes an interesting design cue with this car’s wheel wells. The trim lining the RAV4’s fenders just above the wheel appears to grip the top half of tire which emphasizes the new car’s impressive capability. Ground clearance for the redesigned compact ute is up more than two inches compared to last year’s car at up to 8.6 inches. All 2019 RAV4s benefit from a new Dynamic Force 2.5-liter inline four cylinder engine that makes 27 more horsepower than the engine in the car it replaces. The new engine’s 203-horsepower peak output transforms the Toyota from one of the least powerful to one of the most powerful vehicles in its class. A new eight speed transmission gains two gears over last year’s car which pays off with improvements in acceleration and fuel economy. The new model hits 60 mph in the low eight second range and combined fuel economy is up 4 miles per gallon at 30 mpg. This conventional automatic also avoids the droning soundtrack associated with the RAV4’s CVT-equipped competitors.
Toyota has also made notable improvements with the fifth generation RAV4’s cargo area. It’s over 2.50 inches longer and the distance from floor to ceiling has grown by approximately 2.20 inches. The finish plate on the rear bumper is now on the same plane as the cargo area floor for easy loading. That load floor is also reversible, with carpet on one side and a textured plastic surface the other, which is ideal for wet or dirty cargo. For 2019 the RAV4 gains Toyota’s second generation of driver-assist active safety features which the company has dubbed Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. The suite carries over pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams while adding lane tracing assist and road sign assist for 2019. The new RAV4 comes in a range of interesting trim levels including the robust Adventure, luxurious Limited, and sporty XSE hybrid, though its most compelling trim may be the entry-level RAV4 LE. With the improvements that come with this redesign, even the most affordable car in the RAV4 lineup is extremely competitive. Among fellow segment best-sellers, the Toyota is the most powerful, the most fuel efficient, it has the most ground clearance, and it’s the only car with standard adaptive cruise control. As we said before, this is a very important car for Toyota but it’s safe to say they nailed it. The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is available at Toyota of Dartmouth in Dartmouth Massachusetts.