2019 Toyota RAV4 moves past the economy SUV category
Toyota's RAV4 compact crossover SUV is something of a legend. Now in its 25th year globally, the RAV4 was the best-selling SUV in America last year, selling 427,170 units in 2018. As time goes on, the RAV4 just keeps becoming more popular.
A few years ago, the RAV4 was mostly a street crossover designed for active couples and growing families. But last year's redesign put the RAV4 on Toyota's new global vehicle architecture, and it became a truly upscale go-anywhere SUV with an advanced AWD system and a powerful engine.
The RAV4 gets its power from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 203 horsepower, or buyers can choose a hybrid with 219 total system horsepower. Every RAV4 uses an 8-speed automatic transmission. You can buy the RAV4 with front-wheel-drive, but it was made for AWD. The latest generation features Toyota's multi-terrain select AWD system, with special traction programs for mud and sand, rocks and dirt, and snow. RAV4 owners have had nothing to fear from our winter weather this year.
Even with the potent 203-horsepower engine, the RAV4 with AWD achieves up to 33 MPG on the highway, and part of that is because Toyota has perfected a rear axle disconnect system that sends power to the wheels that need power to maximize traction. So in dry weather, the RAV4 powers the front wheels, but it can send up to 50% of engine torque to the rear wheels as needed. The RAV4 uses its 8.4 to 8.6 inches of ground clearance to make off-pavement driving a breeze.
Inside, the RAV4 offers a standard 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that supports Scout GPS and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. Higher trims upgrade that to an 8-inch touchscreen with support for onboard GPS navigation. A JBL premium audio system is optional.
In the top Limited trim that we tested, the RAV4 offers SofTex upholstery with heat and ventilation in the front seats, plus extra nice features like a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and an integrated backup camera with a 360-degree overhead view. Additional luxury features included a digital rearview mirror, keyless operation, and an automatic power liftgate.
On the road, the new RAV4 comes standard at all price points with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 system, including adaptive cruise control, road sign recognition, pre-collision mitigation with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, lane departure alert with steering assistance, and automatic high beams. One feature to break out is the lane tracing assistance, which helps steer the RAV4 around gentle highway curves.
The bottom line is that if you're looking for a fully modern SUV, the Toyota RAV4 is well worth your consideration. If you liked any RAV4 in the past, you'll love the new one.
2019 Toyota RAV4
Base price: $25,500
Price as tested: $39,536
Type: Compact crossover SUV
Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder (203 hp, 184 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 25/33
Overall length: 181.5 inches
Curb weight: 3,620 pounds
Final assembly: Aichi, Japan
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