With its all-new design, the Toyota RAV4 is barely recognizable from its earliest iteration, having grown in looks, personality and quality. But then, it was time. It looks good, more up-to-date, offers several trim levels and can be had in a hybrid version. The new RAV4 is up to standard with active safety technology. The RAV4 adventure and Limited models offer a more sophisticated AWD system, although it uses more fuel.
Our test RAV4 was, as always, top-of-the-line Limited edition, all-wheel-drive. As nuts as it is, one can opt for some 12 choices, from the intro level LE ($25,650), to the Hybrid Limited AWD ($35,850). Option packages can get pricey, as with our test vehicle, bumping the price upwards of $40,000.
While we thought the RAV4 Ltd we drove was quieter overall, and rode quite smooth, we noticed a jarring sensation when attacking bumps in the road. The 2019 although competitive with those in its class, doesn’t necessarily outshine its competition.
Available with a 2.5-liter inline-4-cylinder engine, the Limited trims offer front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. Our Limited press car, of course, came equipped with AWD. For those looking for a hybrid version, the RAV4-Prius’ little sister-is gasoline-electric power, with an additional electric motor and nickel-metal hybrid battery to assist the rear wheels in AWD. We found the base engine with 203 hp. wanting, and noisier than expected. Matched with the 8-speed automatic transmission, CVT, the shifting is quick. Some drivers might be wishing for paddle shifters, but none are available. We experienced an odd noise twice when backing up and applying the brakes rather quickly. We suspect it was the ABS system, but the jerk and noise seemed like overkill.
We always assumed the (original) RAV4 was designed for women. Whether or not that is still its audience, due to the low roofline, climbing into the front seat can be awkward for a tall driver. Seats are comfortable, with plenty of positions from which to choose. A front-seat passenger sits high which with a sunroof might be uncomfortable and cramped. Back seat passengers sit low, allowing for more headroom. We found the backseat doors didn’t open as wide as some the RAV4’s competition, and unless you slammed them, a light push did not close them completely.
The RAV4’s busy dashboard is a mix of nice materials on most trims and either 7.0- or 8.0-inch touchscreens for infotainment with Apple CarPlay compatibility. Active safety tech such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control is standard on every RAV4 and most trims offer blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts.
While the RAV4’s new styling is up-to-date, we didn’t find it exceptional. The interior design works well and is comfortable and accommodating. Plenty of rear space (37 C.ft) for stuff or say a bike. Some have said the new styling resembles the Toyota Tacoma and 4Runnder truck and SUV family members. Kind of fun when you can look at the complete lineup and see the family traits.
It would be interesting to know the percentage of buyers Toyota expects to purchase the Adventure Edition or Limited edition. Doesn’t seem that this class of SUV buyer would be even looking at the RAV4. “Spirited” driving doesn’t conjure up RAV4. Rather, the more practical RAV4 LE and XLE models would suit most folks.
Of course, opting for AWD, drivers sacrifice fuel economy. The RAV4’s AWD setup is rated at 29 mpg; the Adventure and Limited trim levels with AWD at 27 mpg. Hybrids are expected to come in at 40 mpg.
The RAV4 lineup starts with the LE trim available for both standard and RAV4 Hybrid powertrains. The LE hits most of the basics: active safety gear, a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, a single USB port, power features, cloth upholstery, and a 4.2-inch TFT screen between its gauges for trim computer functions. At around $26,500, the base RAV4 is pricier than some rivals but hardly spartan. The RAV4 Hybrid LE costs $800 more.
Our Limited AWD test RAV4 came with $3,149 worth of options that included Limited Grade Weather Package (heated steering wheel, perforated/heated/ventilated front bucket seats, Rear outboard reclining passenger heated seating w/perforated inserts, Rain-sensing variable intermittent windshield wipers w/De-icer function ($1,075); Entune 3.0 premium audio dynamic nav, JBL w/Clari-F includes 11 speakers in 9 locations, Subwoofer 8.0 in. Touchscreen, AM/FM/HD Radio, Aux port, USB Media Port, 4 USB/charging ports, Dynamic Navigation (up to 3 yr warranty), dynamic POI search, Dynamic Voice Recognition, Hands-freephone capability, Music Streaming via Bluetooth Wireless tech., Siri Eyes Free, Apple Carplay Compatible Sirius XM (3-mth trial), Toyota Connected Services, Safety connect (3-yr trial). Service Connect, Remote connect, Wi-Fi Connect, powered by Verizon w/up to 2 GB ($580). Panoramic Sunroof w/front power tilt/slide moonroof, $200, carpet floor mats, cargo mat, ($269); Unlimited Grade Advanced TechnologyPkg.: Smart Key System on all doors and liftgate, Height-adjustable foot activated power liftgate w/jam protection, Bird’s eye view camera w/perimeter scan, Overhead 360 degree view in Drive and Reverse, Curb View, charging with Charge Indicator Light, ($1,025).
One of the features we appreciated is the curb view. Of late, this writer seems to be missing curbs; or rather, hitting them. Between sitting low and large sideview mirrors, it isn’t always easy to spot what might be in the way.
Some of the competitors to the RAV4 include Ford Escape, Jeep Cherokee, Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue. The categories just keep growing.
MSRP: $34,800; total vehicle price $39,034; Delivery: $1,045; options $3,149.66
Engine: 2.5L DOHC 4-cylinder engine w/dual VVT, 203 hp., 184 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: Direct shift 8-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 105.9 in.
Height: 67 in.
Weight: 3,370 lbs.
Length: 180.9 in.
Tires: 17x17 standard
Wheels: 19-inch Super Chrome Finish Alloy
EPA Fuel Economy: 25/33 mpg; average 28
Towing capacity: 1,500-3,500 lbs.
Leasing availability: $299/month
Available Trim Levels: LE ($25,650), LE AWD ($27,050), XLE ($27,450, Hybrd LE AWD ($27,850), XLE AWD ($29,650), XLE Premium AWD ($31,050), Hybrid XLE AWD ($29,650), Adventure AWD ($33,050), Limited ($33,650), Hybrid XSE AWD ($33,850), Limited AWD ($35,050), Hybrid Limited AWD ($35,850)
Warranty: 3 yr/36,000 Basic; 5 yr/unlimited corrosion; 5 yr/60,000 drivetrain; 2 yr/25,000 maintenance; 2 yrs/unlimited roadside assistance
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