We’d been limited up to now to a single, shadowy profile image of the highly anticipated new 2019 RAV4. Now the wait is over, as Toyota has presented in the flesh the transformed next generation of its top-selling model in North America. As hinted at by that first teaser image, the SUV is now decidedly more robust in its appearance.
Initial reaction to the design and styling of the new model has been pretty overwhelmingly positive.
This is potentially disconcerting news for the RAV4’s rivals. Last year, outside of the top pickup models from each of the American Big Three, the RAV4, “old” as its current generation was, was the best-selling vehicle in the United States. Now, with its comprehensive revamp, the future is bright for the SUV.
Esthetically, Toyota has created real separation between the new edition and its predecessors. The grille’s design is more in line with the other utility models on the company’s roster, while the LED headlights and taillights adopt a more edgy demeanour. The octagonal shaped wheel arches also enhance the vehicle’s rugged appeal.
The changes don’t limit themselves to the outside of the RAV4 either. The RAV4 moves to the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), which has fundamentally transformed all of the models it underpins (think of the Prius and the Camry, for example). It’s also worth noting that the RAV4 borrows the foundations of the Camry. This means that the wheelbase stretches by some 2 cm, the stance is wider and ground clearance is increased by a few inches. Even with the growth in those dimensions, the RAV is actually shorter overall by around 6 cm. Buyers can also add 19-inch alloy wheels to the body.
Clearly, Toyota meant business when it set out to transform the RAV4.
Mechanically, the model is now powered by a new 2.5L 4-cylinder Dynamic Force engine. At the launch no output numbers were given, but the same engine in the Camry produces 203 hp and up to 184 lb-ft of torque.
All-wheel drive is of course available as an option, and on the Limited and Adventure versions it will come with torque vectoring control and a drive shaft disconnect system. The latter means that when the situation calls for it or when all-wheel drive is not needed, power will stop being sent to the rear wheels, improving fuel efficiency. The torque vectoring control system, meanwhile allows for sending 50% of the power to the rear axle and also allocates more power to the wheel that most needs it in more extreme situations.
Different drive modes allow the drive to adjust the vehicle’s performance based on the road conditions. A 7-inch screen (or available 8-inch screen with navigation and satellite radio) provides access to the infotainment system that incorporates the Entune 3.0 application (with Apple CarPlay, but not Android Auto, this due to an ongoing dispute witg Google). Wireless connectivity is also included.
The 2019 RAV4 benefits from the newest version of the Toyota Safety Sense package; it now includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection (including at night thanks to a heat-sensing camera), a daytime bicycle detection system and lane keep assist.
In all, nine different variants of the RAV4 will be offered, with availability scheduled for Fall 2018. The hybrid version will follow in early 2019, according to Toyota. No pricing has been announced as of yet…