BUYER’S GUIDE: 2019 Toyota RAV4
When it first came out in the 1990’s, the Toyota RAV4–short for Recreational Activity Vehicle 4–brought a lot of inspired innovations with it. The fold flat rear seats, a genuinely useful all-wheel drive, and a design that confused a lot of people (is it a car or an SUV?) were just some of the perks and quirks that the first RAV4 was known for. It was one of the first crossovers in the market, and its standout qualities made it an instant hit.
Fast-forward a decade or so, and the RAV4 lost plenty of its luster and charisma. The reasons? First, the compact utility/crossover segment got overly saturated with carmakers constantly one-upping one another. Second, Toyota simply stopped trying with the RAV4, contented in sticking to tried-and-tested formulas instead of taking the leap of faith they did with the original version.
Don’t look now, because with the fifth-gen RAV4, Toyota looks poised to try that leap again. Get to know more about the 2019 Toyota RAV4 with this Buyer’s Guide.
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is built on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform–the same platform that produces the Camry, Avalon and Lexus ES. Using the same platform for multiple vehicles allows Toyota to cut costs in the manufacturing process, giving it more wiggle room to focus on the good stuff. Powering the all-new RAV4 is a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated, inline-four engine mated to an eight-speed Direct Shift auto gearbox. All the three trims (LE, XLE, and LTD) are front-wheel drive, and dish out 203 hp and 243 Nm of torque. The car also comes with an advantageous Eco Mode for improved fuel efficiency and savings.
Unlike its more recent predecessors that tend to disappear among its peers, the new RAV4 is instantly eye-catching. The more aggressive look features a ‘cross-octagon’ styling that combines the wedge-shaped front with an octagon-shaped rear, imbued with a 90-degree profile similar to those found on the Mazda SkyActiv line. Depending on the variant, the latest RAV4 can come with either 17- or 18-inch aluminum wheels. There are six standard colors available: White Pearl Crystal Shine, Red Mica, Silver Metallic, Gray Metallic, Urban Khaki, and Cyan Metallic. For those who want a more custom look, three other colors–Super White II, Attitude Black Mica, and Dark Blue Mica–can be specially ordered, with a wait time of around three months.
Though the cabin looks sleek and stylish, it is evident that Toyota rightly placed its priorities on functionality rather than aesthetics. The layout is ergonomically sound, starting with the seven-inch touchscreen crowning the center and bordered by easily identifiable knobs and controls. Interior features include eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory and lumbar support, rear cooler, near-field communication wireless charging system, leather upholstery, and panoramic moonroof.
Generous legroom is practically expected in the RAV4, and the latest model doesn’t disappoint. Rear passengers are welcomed by spacious seating at the back, and a low floor makes loading cargo a breeze. Storage spaces are aplenty, thanks the enormous center console and double-tiered design of the dash.
Standard safety features in the new RAV4 include seven airbags, anti-lock brake system, trailer sway control, hill climb assist, and engine immobilizer. The top variant comes with additional front and rear parking sensors plus a rearview camera.
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 looks ready to retake the crossover crown from its usurpers. If there’s one thing to worry about when you buy one, it’s that you can end up with a lot of fellow owners on the road.