Whenever you make America’s best-selling crossover, strain is excessive to make sure the alternative does not lose any of its buyer enchantment. After a media drive occasion close to Monterey, California, it is clear that the 2019 Toyota RAV4 improves on its predecessor in practically each means — even when it nonetheless most likely is not my first choose within the compact-crossover class.

Model-new platform

New from the bottom up, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 rides on a model of the TNGA-Okay platform used for the most recent Camry and Avalon. Briefly, Toyota guarantees the brand new platform has 57 p.c higher rigidity than the outdated RAV4’s chassis, whereas additionally permitting the drivetrain to be mounted decrease and thus preserving the middle of gravity low.

In contrast with its predecessor, the brand new crossover has extra floor clearance however is decrease in peak, and has an extended wheelbase however a shorter total size. That helps give the mannequin harder, extra SUV-like proportions. The styling follows swimsuit, with virtually 4Runner-like cues, together with a brasher grille and fascia and squared-off fender openings.

More energizing designs inside and outside

In each trim degree, the RAV4 seems much less forgettable and a complete lot smarter than earlier than. Nineteen-inch wheels are supplied for the primary time, and the colour palette has extra attention-grabbing shades, together with numerous two-tone choices for the Journey grade.

The within of the RAV4 can also be a nicer place to spend time, with loads of soft-touch supplies and thoughtfully organized controls. In typical Toyota style, the secondary controls are huge, chunky and legible, so figuring them out is intuitive and utilizing them with only a look whereas driving is straightforward. My Restricted tester has plush choices like a panoramic sunroof, heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel and even a button to electrically warmth and deice the windshield wipers.

The RAV4 additionally has 5 2.1-amp USB ports and eight cupholders. A wider middle console means the 2 entrance cupholders will be facet by facet; Toyota says prospects complained concerning the earlier association, which had the cupholders separated. The middle-console compartment, door pockets and glove field are solely modestly sized, although there’s a small shelf constructed into the sprint above the glove field which may maintain small, gentle gadgets. An area forward of the shifter can optionally be outfitted with a wi-fi cellphone charging pad.

Cabin usability, visibility and design are all very spectacular.

Toyota

Relocated mirrors and bigger rear quarter mirrors are supposed to enhance outward visibility. For the primary time for this mannequin, there are climate-control vents aimed on the again seat.

Again-seat house is beneficiant sufficient for adults; with the motive force’s seat adjusted for the way I sit, I’ve received plentiful legroom and headroom within the second row. There’s little or no intrusion from the middle exhaust tunnel, too, so middle-seat passengers ought to handle OK on longer journeys.

Disappointingly, cargo quantity truly declines barely in comparison with earlier fashions, despite the fact that Toyota notes the load flooring is 2.5 inches longer than earlier than. Fashions with a panoramic sunroof now have 37 cubic toes of house behind the again seat. Nonetheless, that is an excellent determine that compares properly with rivals just like the Honda CR-V (37.6-39.2 cubic toes, relying on trim) and Nissan Rogue (39.three cubic toes). The cargo flooring is reversible, with one facet carpeted and the opposite rubberized for if you’re carrying soiled gear. It may be set right into a decrease place that gives an additional 2.2 inches of peak should you want more room.

Competent, if loud, powertrain

Below the hood of the 2019 RAV4 is a 2.5-liter inline-four engine, utilizing each direct and port injection. It is rated for 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, huge enhancements over the prior RAV4 and among the many strongest engines in its class. An eight-speed automated transmission is commonplace.

Being naturally aspirated, the four-cylinder engine delivers predictable and deliberate energy throughout its rev vary, with no hesitation and nice in-gear passing efficiency. It lives as much as chief engineer Yoshikazu Saeki’s promise that he strove for natural-feeling acceleration. Precise acceleration is about on par with rival crossovers: lots to bomb previous slow-moving visitors or hustle up a hill.

More often than not the eight-speed automated’s easy shifts permit it to fade into the background, which is an efficient factor. It isn’t vastly amenable to sporty driving, although, and sometimes it downshifts harshly after I ask for extra energy. It additionally hunts badly when driving up a reasonably steep grade of switchbacks.

Cargo house is beneficiant and practically best-in-class.

Toyota

The engine and transmission are literally very satisfying to drive total, however the former is loud. It sounds tough and gravelly below even average acceleration, and is certainly louder and harsher on the ear than the hushed nature of some rival crossovers’ engines.

Gasoline economic system figures have vastly improved although they do not eclipse the most effective within the phase. Entrance-wheel-drive RAV4 XLE and XLE Premium fashions return EPA scores of 27 miles per gallon metropolis and 34 mpg metropolis, whereas the LE and Restricted ship 26/34 mpg. Evaluate that with the Honda CR-V, which returns 28/34 mpg in most trims. Nonetheless, the thriftiest 2018 RAV4 you would purchase posted EPA scores of simply 23/30 mpg, so this can be a huge enchancment.

An RAV4 Hybrid will even be supplied, as soon as once more with commonplace electrically powered all-wheel drive. It presents scores of 41 miles per gallon metropolis and 37 mpg freeway. We’re trying ahead to driving the brand new hybrid at a later date.

The RAV4’s seats are snug and its again seat lots spacious for grownup passengers.

Toyota

Rides higher than it sounds

The brand new RAV4 additionally drives very properly in different respects, displaying all of the maturity and poise of different automobiles on this platform, like the brand new Camry. Pure-feeling steering is completely easy to make use of all over the place from metropolis parking heaps to winding coastal roads, with not one of the vagueness that has troubled some older RAV4s. The suspension settles simply after crests, dips or fast lane-change maneuvers. All instructed, it is a driving expertise that provides plenty of confidence.

Trip high quality can also be excellent, with the chassis dispatching bumps earlier than I really feel them — even my tester’s 19-inch wheels have comparatively beneficiant sidewalls, with 275/55-series tires (get an evidence of what these sidewall numbers imply right here). Sadly the cabin does not do pretty much as good a job of muting the sound of these impacts. Each little suspension ping and knock makes itself audible, and there is considerable tire noise on each street floor. Pair that with distinguished wind noise — even at simply 55-60 miles per hour on the Pacific Coast Freeway — and the RAV4 appears a few ticks louder than its competitors. We’ll need to drive the crossover on our native roads, and back-to-back with rivals, to make a full judgment, however preliminary impressions are this crossover may use a bit extra sound deadening.

A lot of know-how

The Toyota RAV4 presents 7- or Eight-inch touchscreen infotainment methods. The characteristic set varies wildly relying on trim degree. Base fashions, for example, lack HD Radio and SiriusXM satellite tv for pc, whereas built-in navigation and an upgraded JBL sound system can be found as choices.

The touchscreens are extremely practical however not as fairly or as feature-rich because the competitors.

Toyota

Toyota’s Entune three.zero software program works simply effective for cellphone calling, music choice and extra, with immediate responses to onscreen pushes. Bodily buttons across the touchscreen and actual quantity/tuning knobs ease operation. However the onscreen graphics are plain and the shows aren’t notably vibrant or crisp. The navigation maps particularly look dated, although they do supply pinch-to-zoom performance.

Customary connectivity options embrace Apple CarPlay, a Wi-Fi hotspot (with six months/2GB of free entry earlier than it’s essential pay on your personal information plan) and Amazon Alexa integration. As ever, Toyota doesn’t supply Android Auto, although says it is “investigating” including it.

A four.2-inch coloration journey pc is commonplace, although you can too go for an 7-inch coloration model that replaces the speedometer, whereas the tachometer, gas and temperature gauges stay analog. The show presents plenty of data and you may swap between a digital and nearly rendered analog speedometer, however its matte-finish show washes out simply in vibrant daylight.

Security tech contains this camera-based rearview mirror, which helps get rid of blind spots.

Toyota

Each RAV4 comes commonplace with a raft of security tech bundled below the Toyota Security Sense 2.zero banner: precollision braking with bike owner and pedestrian detection, lane-keep help, auto excessive beams, adaptive cruise management with freeway steering help and street signal recognition. Blind-spot monitoring, a 360-degree digicam and parking sensors are elective.

Essentially the most attention-grabbing new security characteristic is an elective camera-based rearview mirror, which works equally to the methods we have seen in Cadillac and Nissan fashions. Flip the mirror down and it reveals video output from a digicam mounted on the prime of the rear window. It permits a a lot wider area of view and avoids obstruction by passengers’ heads or cumbersome cargo.

Competitively priced

The 2019 RAV4 has solely about half as many orderable configurations because the final model, which Toyota says simplifies issues for patrons and sellers. Nonetheless, there are six trim ranges for the non-hybrid mannequin, operating from the $26,545 (with vacation spot) LE as much as the $34,545 Restricted. Including all-wheel drive to any of these choices prices $1,400.

Heading off-road or anticipating plenty of snow? The Journey trim degree’s upgraded all-wheel-drive system could also be what you want.

Toyota

The brand new-for-2019 Journey trim seems to be a play for the hearts and of Subaru and Jeep patrons. Aesthetic enhancements embrace a brand new entrance fascia that modestly improves the strategy angle, distinctive 19-inch wheels, raised roof rails, chunkier overfenders, orange inside accents and rubber all-weather cargo liners. Mechanically, it makes use of a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system (additionally featured on the RAV4 Restricted) that may shuffle torque side-to-side on the rear axle, or disconnect the rear driveshaft in low-load conditions for gas economic system. Particular drive modes permit the automotive’s computer systems to mix that rear differential with brake utility to enhance snow and off-road traction. However most of all, it simply seems cool. It’s going to value $33,945, or a smidge lower than a Restricted AWD.

A noticeable step ahead

With its lackluster infotainment, louder-than-expected cabin and not-class-leading gas economic system, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 does not instantly leap to the highest of what’s an more and more aggressive class. A Honda CR-V feels extra well-rounded and a Mazda CX-5 is livelier to drive, for example. Nonetheless, the RAV4 is a marked enchancment over final yr’s mannequin and a genuinely satisfying crossover. Remarkably nice to drive, very practical for on a regular basis life and generously outfitted with security know-how, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 would make an amazing addition to anyone’s storage.

Editors’ be aware:Journey prices associated to this characteristic had been coated by the producer. That is widespread within the auto trade, as it’s miles extra economical to ship journalists to vehicles than to ship vehicles to journalists. Whereas Roadshow accepts multiday car loans from producers to be able to present scored editorial critiques, all scored car critiques are accomplished on our turf and on our phrases.

The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s editorial group are our personal and we don’t settle for paid editorial content material.

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