The fifth-generation version of the ridiculously popular RAV4 looks pretty good and Toyota’s mandate against making boring cars seems to be working. The chunky design, available contrast roof, available 19-inch wheels, and aggressive stance do a lot to make the crossover stand out. It’s legitimately attractive, something we haven’t said about a Toyota in a while, and we’re happy to see some influences from the excellent FT-AC Concept.
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With shorter front and rear overhangs, a half-inch more ground clearance, longer wheelbase, wider track, and a 57 percent stiffer chassis, the new RAV4 should be more capable and better to drive than the outgoing model. Toyota also says visibility for the driver has been improved.
Two powertrains will be offered: a carryover 2.5-liter four-cylinder mated to an eight-speed transmission and a hybrid model with a CVT. Although the transmission gains two gears over the outgoing model, it’s a shame Toyota isn’t offering a turbo engine option. The AWD system gets important upgrades, however, and will now be able to send 50 percent of the torque to the rear wheels as well as split it from left to right via torque vectoring. The rear axle can also be disconnected for better fuel economy.
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New for this generation is a Hybrid XSE model, which Toyota says is the sportiest RAV4 offered. It gets some cosmetic enhancements to make it look sportier and a sport-tuned suspension. A RAV4 Adventure model preps the crossover for light off-roading with cosmetic upgrades including roof rails and different fenders, among others. All AWD non-hybrid RAV4s get a Multi-Terrain Select system that helps maximize traction over snow, rocks, mud, or sand.
Inside, the new RAV4 gets a more modern design, a bigger touchscreen, and a full camera display in the rearview mirror that relays a live feed from a wide-angle high-def camera affixed to the rear of the car. Options include heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, wireless cellphone charging, up to five USB ports, and a hands-free tailgate.
Toyota finally got the memo and is now offering Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility, but still no Android Auto. Following the rest of the Toyota lineup, the new RAV4 comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense, which includes forward collision mitigation and brake assist with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beams, and a new lane tracing assist and road sign assist feature.
The RAV4 is the most popular selling Toyota, so it’s an incredibly significant product that finally looks ready to take on a competitive segment. The 2019 Toyota RAV4 will be available this winter with the hybrid models arriving in early 2019.
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