CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, Calif. — The 2019 Toyota RAV4 replaces a vehicle that bought four hundred,000 models final yr regardless of being a lame duck driving on a thirteen-yr-previous platform. It is the best-promoting vehicle within the nation that is not a pickup. Enjoying it protected can be anticipated, it will be comprehensible, it will be precisely what Subaru did with the Forester.
And but, Toyota didn’t play it protected with this utterly redesigned 2019 RAV4. Not even shut. It is stylistically and philosophically totally different, abandoning what its engineers and designers described because the “car-like” strategy of its predecessor in favor of one thing nearer to the SUV finish of the spectrum. Although it nonetheless employs Toyota’s more and more ubiquitous TNGA car platform, the journey peak is taller than earlier than, the three out there all-wheel-drive methods extra refined, and the styling extra angular and macho. The brand new Journey trim even borrows some cues from the Tacoma. If something, this new 2019 RAV4 looks like a return to the strategy of the third-era RAV4, which was discontinued in 2012. The outgoing RAV4 is subsequently type of an evolutionary lifeless finish.
The brand new RAV4 can also be yet one more new Toyota created since Chairman Akio Toyoda declared that the corporate together with his identify on the door “make higher automobiles.” Echoing the attitudes of different designers and engineers we have spoken to, the brand new RAV4’s chief engineer and longtime firm veteran Yoshikazu Saeki is clearly overjoyed to hold out the brand new marching orders. Actually, past making the brand new RAV4 subjectively “higher,” he needed to basically change perceptions.
The brand new XSE trim degree is one such area. Like different Toyotas, the letters “SE” point out the sportiest trim degree. It equally has a sport-tuned suspension and the raciest styling with inform-story shiny metallic black trim on the fascias, enhanced wheel arches and contrasting roof. It is also solely obtainable because the hybrid. You’ll be able to virtually hear a document scratching, however Saeki has all the time disagreed with the notion that Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy drive was solely suited to reinforce fuel financial system. It might improve efficiency, too.
“I needed to vary the notion,” the jovial chief engineer stated. “I needed to interrupt the (hybrid) mould. In the event you throw the hybrid unit right into a regular RAV4, there is no enjoyable in that. That is why I made the XSE Hybrid.”
His choice was definitely confirmed by market analysis teams who favored the XSE’s look over all others, whereas preferring it much more as soon as discovering it was a hybrid. But, this is the opposite factor: the hybrid is certainly the extra highly effective and faster of the 2 powertrains. Barely, however however.
The bottom engine is Toyota’s new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder shared with the Camry, producing a category-main 203 horsepower. With 184 pound-ft of torque, it undoubtedly does not have the low-finish response of its turbocharged rivals, and the engine itself was surprisingly shrill when pushed with authority up the varied hills surrounding our first drive route round Monterey, Calif. It’s undoubtedly quieter within the Camry, which shares the TNGA platform’s Okay variation with RAV4 and Avalon. But, for this phase, the RAV4’s acceleration is greater than adequate, whereas the additionally-new eight-velocity automated features in a extra conventional method than Honda and Subaru’s CVTs.
The hybrid, in the meantime, makes use of a modified 2.5-liter engine, downgraded in output and using an additional-excessive compression ratio and the fuel-saving Atkinson cycle. It is joined by three electric motors to create a standard all-wheel-drive system and supply a complete system output of 219 hp. Toyota says it’s going to go from zero to 60 mph in 7.eight seconds versus eight.1 seconds within the fuel model. So, once more, calling it a efficiency selection is a stretch. The two.5-liter can also be no quieter when hooked up to the Toyota’s hybrid system’s droning electronically managed constantly variable transmission. The engine’s engagement has a minimum of been smoothed out from the outgoing model, and the addition of road signal recognition within the standard Toyota Security Sense package deal reduces the variety of false-alarm auto cease/begins at cease and yield indicators.
Plus, fuel financial system is outstanding, with EPA estimates of forty one mpg metropolis, 37 mph freeway and 39 mpg mixed for each hybrid (an enchancment versus the outgoing mannequin’s 37 mpg mixed). The fuel-solely RAV4, regardless of being one of many thriftiest within the phase, manages 29 mpg mixed. The Journey and Restricted AWD grades return 27 mpg mixed. Contemplating the Hybrid solely comes with a price premium of $800 over the fuel-solely variations, that is an enormous benefit and will pay for itself inside two years.
However again to the trouble to make the RAV4 extra distinctive. An enormous a part of that’s the driving expertise. The TNGA platform yields a fifty seven % stiffer construction, a decrease middle of gravity and a brand new electric energy steering system mounted to the rack versus the column. The result is a compact SUV that is extra involving than the fairly detached transport pod it replaces. It does not interact like a Mazda CX-5, however there’s nonetheless an eagerness to its flip-in, and it demonstrates spectacular poise.
There at the moment are Regular and Sport modes, however the variations between them have been negligible. So too are the variations between the myriad trim ranges. We drove all of them, and though the fuel-solely XLE maybe felt a bit lighter and extra playful, and the game-tuned XSE Hybrid a bit extra caffeinated in its response to inputs, there is not an enormous hole. That is simply superb. Each RAV4 is now higher to drive — not just a few area of interest sport variant.
Each RAV4 can also be extra succesful off the crushed monitor. Most outgoing RAV4 trim ranges had a paltry, car-like 6.1 inches of floor clearance, with the Journey good for less than 6.5. Against this, the bottom 2019 RAV4, the XSE Hybrid, manages a lofty eight.1 inches, with the brand new Journey good for eight.6. Solely the Subaru Forester or Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk can clear extra, and even simply by a tenth of an inch.
The 2019 RAV4 Journey with its significantly decrease predecessor.
There are additionally two extra succesful all-wheel-drive methods obtainable on fuel-solely fashions. The extra refined torque-vectoring AWD system discovered on the Journey and Restricted AWD trims varies the quantity of energy distributed to every rear wheel to reinforce dealing with within the dry or traction within the moist and/or soiled. It is just like Acura’s Tremendous Dealing with All-Wheel Drive System on this regard, and like Audi’s Quattro with Extremely system, it routinely disconnects the rear axle to save lots of fuel throughout a gentle cruise.
The opposite AWD system is a extra conventional reactive one which engages the rear axle when entrance wheel slippage is detected. Nevertheless, new for 2019, is a Multi-Terrain Choose system standard on all AWD fashions that gives “Mud & Sand,” “Rock & Filth” and “Snow” modes to change the quantity of slippage allowed earlier than partaking the axle. The torque-vectoring AWD system will get equal settings, whereas the Journey goes an off-roading step additional with hill-descent management.
Including such refined all-wheel-drive gear was a concerted effort to additional change the picture of each the RAV4 and Toyota typically. If something, “torque vectoring is an excessive amount of” for a compact crossover just like the RAV4, in line with chief engineer Saeki, however “it is about (enhancing) model picture.”
So too is the Journey’s styling. The assembled journalists on the press launch, this one included, clearly favored its Tacoma-impressed face, chunkier angular fender flares, contrasting roof and extra practical raised roof rails. All that is lacking is the 4Runner’s roll-down again window. Whether or not most of the people prefers it’s one other matter, however based on Toyota product planning and advertising officers, the Journey is a test balloon to gauge the curiosity in additional absolutely committing to the 2019 RAV4’s extra overtly SUV-like path. A ten % take price is predicted, however we might see it being extra.
But, with all this speak of efficiency, off-roading, sharper dealing with and extra compelling design, is Toyota liable to dropping the RAV4 plot of uber utility and performance? True, it is a much less smart-footwear selection now, ceding that floor to the Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V. As an example, a discount in headroom, particularly with the optionally available sunroof, makes the cabin extra confining. A extra raked D pillar additionally reduces versatility for carrying giant choices or huge canine (most cargo capability was moderately transparently omitted from the in any other case full spec sheet).
On the similar time, the brand new RAV4’s cargo area is 2.5 inches longer, its sides have been reshaped for additional area and its versatile flooring panel could be lowered to realize 2.2 inches of additional depth or flipped over to disclose a extra simply cleaned exhausting plastic floor. Up entrance, the broader middle console features a deeper beneath-armrest bin, an enormous smartphone holder that may be upgraded with Qi wi-fi charging, and a pair of huge cupholders positioned aspect-by-aspect slightly than scattered about amongst a collection of ineffective shallow bins as within the previous RAV4.
When it comes to consolation, the again seat positive aspects an additional zero.6 inch of legroom and an additional inch of shoulder room, whereas the brand new platform yields a extra composed experience and a quieter cabin. There’s additionally, not surprisingly, an abundance of latest features. Accident avoidance tech continues to be standard on each trim degree, however infotainment is enhanced with standard in-car WiFi, Amazon Alexa connectivity and Apple CarPlay. The bottom LE has a 7-inch touchscreen, however all others get an eight-inch unit that really appears greater because of its excessive, simply reached sprint-prime place. It is one of many simpler methods to make use of. The accompanying new bodily controls, most notably the chunky rubber-coated knobs for the stereo and local weather management, look nice and really feel costly when operated.
Certainly, cabin supplies all through the cabin have been elevated significantly, though the SofTex vinyl upholstery stays an unconvincing substitute for actual leather-based, which is unavailable. Clients have not missed it, says RAV4 product planner Cameron Creighton, who provides the range of shade mixtures and sew patterns discovered within the numerous 2019 trim ranges would not be attainable with out SofTex.
Different newly out there features embrace ventilated entrance seats, heated rear seats, a Cadillac-like rearview digital camera mirror, a panoramic sunroof, a principally digital instrument panel, and 5 USB ports. Pricing begins at $26,545 for a fuel-solely entrance-drive LE, together with a hefty $1,045 vacation spot cost for its transit from a plant in both Japan or Canada. The XLE with a comparable drivetrain hits the register at $28,345, the XLE Premium at $30,545 and Restricted at $34,545. The XSE Hybrid begins at $34,745, whereas the fuel- and AWD-solely Journey begins at $33,945. All are completely affordable given all you get, particularly on the safety entrance, although the decrease trims at the moment are significantly pricier.
Maybe some will lament that. Maybe others will miss the previous car-like vibe and catamaran-impressed styling. Perhaps your golden retriever will not match so nicely within the again. But none of that appears more likely to sluggish the RAV4’s best-promoting momentum. For everybody postpone by the brand new course, we’re wagering many extra might be interested in the extra characterful strategy. Toyota might have messed with an excellent factor, however it did not mess it up.
– 2019 Toyota RAV4 First Drive Review –
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