At first glance, the Toyota RAV4 isn’t the kind of vehicle that generates big headlines, but it doesn’t take much digging to discover there are a lot of people who will be interested in what this new, fifth-generation model has to offer.
Underneath the restyled body is a new engine and a revised AWD system with torque vectoring, along with a sporty variant of the fuel-sipping RAV4 hybrid that promises more driving engagement with what Toyota expects will be class-leading fuel efficiency.
Toyota says its TNGA (Toyota New Generation Architecture) platform is stiffer and allowed engineers to tune the suspension for better handling. A lower centre of gravity and wider front and rear track promise to contribute that way, too.
Like the outgoing model, the new RAV4 uses a 2.5L engine, but it’s new and features a more sophisticated fuel delivery system that uses both port and direction injection tech. Toyota says the new motor makes 203 hp in gas-only models and 219 in gas-electric hybrid variants, and works with a new eight-speed transmission (replacing a six-speed).
The available AWD system can direct up to half the engine’s power to the rear axle and then apportion it left and right, or disconnect power rearward altogether when it’s not needed, to save fuel. Hybrid models carry over a different AWD system where the rear axle is powered by an electric motor.
Toyota offers the new RAV4 in a wide range of trims. Gas models come in LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Trail and Limited, while hybrid models can be had in LE, XLE, XSE and Limited.
LE trim comes with, among other things, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, heated side mirrors, LED head- and taillights, 4.2-inch multi-info display, front reading lights and a cargo area light.
XLE adds 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, passive keyless entry, cargo area cover, four USB charging ports, power tailgate and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. XLE Premium builds on that list with 19-inch wheels, artificial leather seating, eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar and sequential mode shift lever.
Trail trim returns with its extra ground clearance and more structural enhancements. It can be optioned with ventilated front seats and mocha-coloured upholstery.
Limited brings luxury touches inside and out, including silver bumper trim, trim-specific 19-inch wheels, a 7.0-inch info display that will show navigation instructions or a digital speedometer. Options include a hands-free tailgate, ventilated front seats and heated rear seating. Limted and XLE Hybrid trims also come standard with a digital rearview mirror that can project an image captured by a camera mounted on the back of the car. It will also function as a traditional mirror.
All 2019 RAV4 models also come with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite, which bundles frontal collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams and lane tracing assist.
At the time of this writing, Toyota had yet to publish fuel consumption estimates for the 2019 RAV4. We expect those estimates will improve on last year’s numbers, which were 6.9/7.8 L/100 km (city/highway) for hybrid models; 10.0/7.8 for FWD gas versions; and 10.7/8.4 in AWD gas trims.