2019 Toyota RAV4: Right Size Fits All

  • The 2019 Toyota RAV4 line includes both gasoline and hybrid models.
  • The new RAV4 is built on Toyota’s TNGA-K platform for a lower center of gravity.
  • For those on the go, the 2019 RAV4 has plenty of infotainment and safety features.

I read recently that over 60 percent of new cars sold are SUVs and trucks. That explains why you see so many of them around; people want them. That also explains why GM, for example, is closing down lines, because sales of sedans are way down. That also explains why the latest RAV4 from Toyota is such a big deal.

They’re going to sell a lot of them.

Right Size Fits All

What Toyota, and every other player in the (crowded) SUV field has to do, is hit a sweet spot. SUVs have to be trucks, but not too truck-like. They have to be big, but not the size of a semi. They have to be practical, but still have style. That’s probably why Toyota sells so many RAV4s – they’re pretty much all of that.

So, of course, for 2019, you can expect more of the same – only different!

Let’s start with the drivetrain, because there’s a lot going on there.

2019 Toyota RAV4 family. Photo: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Use The Force

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is powered by the hysterically-named “Dynamic Force” 2.5-liter inline-four-banger. The engine, matched to an eight-speed automatic, has a near-diesel like compression ratio: 13:1 on gas models and 14:1 on Atkinson cycle HV (hybrid) models. There are other tricks, like D4-S fuel injection (combining direct and secondary port injectors), high-speed combustion, and variable valve timing.

This all adds up to 203 ponies, which is a pretty good output. 60 mph comes up in a respectable 8.2 seconds. Pretty slick for a “truck.” The HV models – billed as the “sporty hybrid grade” by Toyota – hit 60 in 7.8 seconds. For those who want something a little more agile, the XSE HV has a sport-tuned suspension.

That four-banger option seems like a pretty good choice, but the real flashy stuff happens with the RAV4 Hybrid. That model has the engine paired with Toyota’s Hybrid System II and an electronically-controlled Continuously-Variable Transmission. All that mechanical tech tallies up an impressive mpg rating of 41/37/39 (city, highway, combined.) Active grille shutters further enhance fuel economy.

See, impressive!

The TNGA-K platform allows for lower powertrain placement and a lower center of gravity versus the previous RAV4. A new saddle-style fuel tank distributes weight of the fuel evenly side-to-side. The previous model had the entire tank on one side of the vehicle. Photo: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Powertrain & Safety Tech

Optional for the 2019 Toyota RAV4 is all-wheel drive and torque vectoring. The system directs up to 50 percent of the torque to the rear wheels, and can slew it left or right to enhance handling. Another nicety is the Rear Driveline Disconnect system for better fuel mileage on long haul highway trips. Multi-Terrain Select gives you the ability to climb over mud, sand, rocks, dirt, and snow.

Nifty features like Hill Start Assist Control, Trailer Sway Control, and Downhill Assist Control are also found on the 2019 Toyota RAV4. There’re safety nannies aplenty to help prevent collisions or mitigate their impacts. Everything from pre-collision and pedestrian warnings to radar cruise control, lane assist, and rear cross traffic braking – the whole megillah.

Related: The Toyota RAV4 Adventure has a few extra features that set it apart. Here is our full review.

Sound Reduction

Sound-damping and soundproofing materials have been enhanced throughout the 2019 Toyota RAV4, with a particular focus on minimizing any noise that might interfere with conversation in the cabin. Holes and gaps between parts have also been filled with sound-damping material. For example, the floor silencer pad is now one large piece; its surface area increasing from 60 percent coverage to 92 percent.

Related: The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is ideal for those who commute everyday.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Limited HV in Ruby Flare Pearl. Photo: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Steering & Handling

The new parallel-type electric power steering system is rack-mounted rather than column-mounted, as opposed to the previous model. Toyota says the new design helps enhance turning response and even reduces fatigue on long drives. Higher rigidity in the steering mounting and column further enhance responsiveness and feel, according to Toyota.

Other tidbits include larger over-fenders, and a more aggressive bumper and grille design. 19-inch, split five-spoke wheels with “Adventure grade” tires are available.

Interior Treatments

There’s lots of tech perks on the inside too. Entune 3.0 multimedia, including Wi-Fi Connect powered by Verizon, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple CarPlay. So I guess you can order cat litter by voice command while driving? Okay. Unfortunately to do that, you will have to turn down the available 800-watt JBL audio system.

Across the entire model line, the latest RAV4 is full of convenience stuff, like a 4.2-inch multi-information screen, auxiliary power outlets, USB charging ports, reading lights, and cargo area lights. The exterior mirrors come with LED turn signals and blind spot warning indicators; there is even a moonroof.

2019 Toyota RAV4 XSE HV in BlizzardPearl. Photo: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Pricing & Availability

Gas 2019 Toyota RAV4 models come in five grades: LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, and Limited. By contrast, the Hybrid will come in LE, XLE, XSE, and Limited. All this goodness starts around $27,000 bucks for the gas models, stopping around $37,000 for the hybrids. Which, you’ve got to admit, is a pretty good value.

The gasoline models should be in dealerships as you read this; expect the hybrids in March.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

Photos & Source: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.