Toyota’s popular RAV4 received a makeover and more power for 2019. The compact utility vehicle now has a more rugged appearance thanks to a love-it or hate-it new grill that brings it more into line with other Toyota trucks.
Toyota is not known for taking risk with styling. That remains the practice with the 2019 model. The Trail version tested here, has a few design tweaks — roof rails and fender flares. Combined with unique 19-inch wheels they serve to emphasize the rugged nature and ability of this utility.
The interior of the Trail model is positively funky by Toyota standards with unique orange trim and stitching on the seats. Technology is at the fore. The TFT (thin film transistor) instrument panel on upper trim levels lets the driver chose between analogue and digital displays. The infotainment system come with Toyota’s Entune 3.0 Audio which includes a large 20-cm touchscreen (on upper trim levels), Siri eyes-free voice control, Apple CarPlay (no Android Auto) and multiple charging ports. Top trim levels get a larger screen, navigation and satellite radio.
The driver can control most functions without taking his or her hands off the multi-function steering wheel. The infotainment system screen and controls sits proud atop the centre stack with the HVAC system and its controls mid-level. The transmission control and drive system controls are at the bottom in a separate area.
The second row can accommodate three, but two full-sized folks will be more comfortable than three. The rear seat backs fold to increase cargo capacity and the cargo door on upper trim levels can be operated hands free.
The 2019 RAV4 gets a new 2.5-litre engine that produces 203 horsepower, a useful increase of 24 extra horses compared to the outgoing model. As before there is also a hybrid version. It too boasts more power at 219 compared to 194. The gas-powered RAV4 gets a new eight-speed automatic transmission instead of the six-speed used previously. The hybrid model continues to use a continuously variable automatic.
The new gasoline engine performs more than adequately. There is plenty of oomph off the line or for passing or climbing hills. The new transmission has enough ratios for every purpose and selects them seamlessly. The duo is well matched since the new RAV4 has both more power and improved fuel economy.
There are different AWD systems for the 2019 RAV4. In LE and XLE trim levels, the system can send up to 50 per cent of available power to the rear wheels as needed. On Trail and Limited trim levels, torque vectoring is employed to vary power distribution between the right and left rear wheels. If one loses grip, power is sent to the other. When the system detects no need for power to all four wheels, it disconnects the rears to maximize fuel economy.
A terrain select system uses a knob on the centre console to maximize grip when you encounter mud, sand, rocks or dirt. There is no provision for snow or ice.
Made right here in Canada, the RAV4 is Toyota’s best seller, constantly ranking number one or two in one of the most crowded categories in the industry. To avoid rocking the boat, Toyota has taken a conservative approach with the 2019 makeover.
With an emphasis on safety, power and fuel efficiency, the fifth-generation RAV4 is sure to maintain its place atop the pack.
- Model: 2019 Toyota RAV4 AWD Trail
- Engine: 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, 203 horsepower, 184 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel
- Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
- NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 9.2 / 7.1
- Length: 4,610 mm
- Width: 1,864 mm
- Wheelbase: 2,690 mm
- Weight: 1,640 kg
- Price: $38,690 base, $41,176 as tested, including freight
- Standard equipment: heated tilt and telescope steering wheel, dual zone automatic climate control, 20-cm instrument display screen, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, Entune audio plus and safety connect with automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator, heated front and rear seats, power driver’s seat, ventilated front seats, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, rear view camera, tonneau cover and cargo net, power cargo door, 120-volt outlet, wireless charger for smart phones, 19-in alloy wheels
- Standard safety equipment: pre-collision system with pedestrian and bicycle detection, automatic high beams, dynamic cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist and road edge detection, lane tracing assist
- Options on test vehicle: two-tone paint, $540