The standard looks to set a new benchmark

We’ve said it countless times before, but we’ll say it again - the compact crossover segment is ridiculously popular right now. However, much of this segment growth can be attributed to low fuel prices, and when gas gets more expensive (not if, but when), customer demands could shift dramatically to hybrids. However, by the looks of it, Toyota doesn’t have much to worry about, and it’s all thanks to the 2019 RAV4.

Hybrid Tech For The Win

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Is The Way Forward For The Compact Crossover Segment Exterior
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Toyota first added hybrid tech to the RAV4 model line for the 2016 model year, pairing the 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine with a nickel-metal-hydride battery pack and two electric motors.

Now, the Japanese automaker is continuing the tradition into the 2019 model year with a revamped hybrid powertrain.

Updates include a new single-motor system, as well as a fresh spec for the 2.5-liter internal combustion four-cylinder engine. Combined output for the 2019 model year comes to 219 horsepower, which bests the old system by 25 horses total. Torque at the rear wheels is also increased by 30 percent.

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Is The Way Forward For The Compact Crossover Segment Exterior
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The benefits of a hybrid system are obvious - more power, more torque, and more MPG.

Indeed, the hybrid RAV4 is the most powerful option of the lineup, besting the gas-only RAV4 by 16 ponies. The system cuts the sprint to 60 mph by just a few tenths compared to the gas-only variant, but far more noticeable is the hybrid’s torque curve, which feels much meatier. As soon as you dig into the throttle, the hybrid’s electric motor sends 100 percent of its available twist reserves into the drivetrain, while the gas-only RAV4 feels more sluggish to respond.

Then there are the mileage gains, which, as you might imagine, are substantial. The most frugal of the gas-only RAV4’s are the front-wheel-drive versions of the XLE and XLE Premium, which offer up to 27 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined.

Compare that to the hybrids, all of which offer a whopping 41 mpg in the city, 37 mpg in highway, and 39 mpg combined. Part of the equation is Toyota’s Predictive Efficient Drive system, which uses onboard sensors to “learn” the owner’s driving patterns and optimize application of the available battery power. Pretty high-tech stuff, and totally in the background.

2019 Toyota RAV4 - Driven
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Then there’s Toyota’s internal combustion engine tech, which makes the most of the dino juice thanks to an incredible 40 percent thermal efficiency.

These are the kind of numbers you’d expect in a laboratory experiment, not a mass-produced passenger car.

What’s more, each of the hybrid models come standard with AWD, which is a nice plus in a segment where off-road capability is so highly sought-after.

Looking Into The Compact Crossover Crystal Ball

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Is The Way Forward For The Compact Crossover Segment Exterior
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Without a doubt, the technology wars are going to heat up even more in the next few decades, but luckily for Toyota, the RAV4 comes packing.

In addition to the features already mentioned, Toyota is at the forefront when it comes to active safety and convenience systems. The latest is its Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) suite, which includes standouts like Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Intelligent Clearance Sonar, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Braking, and Automatic High Beams. As customer demand for these types of systems increase, Toyota will already have them locked and loaded.

The other side of the equation is this - not only does tech development offer useful features, but it helps to drive down cost as well. Toyota is particularly well-positioned in this case, with many of its hybrid options offered with extremely competitive pricing, even compared to some of the gas-only alternatives.

The RAV4 is a prime example of this, as the hybrid version tacks on just $800 compared to similarly equipped AWD gas-only models in the lineup. What’s more, the RAV4 hybrid is becoming considerably less expensive with every successive generation, with the 2019 model year RAV4 hybrid cutting $925 from the MSRP of the outgoing model.

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Is The Way Forward For The Compact Crossover Segment Exterior
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Chalk it up to lessons learned with the Prius.

For now, Toyota offers four model grades for the 2019 RAV4 hybrid lineup, including the LE, XLE, XSE HV, and Limited. Toyota says hybrids account for just 11 percent of RAV4 sales, but it’s estimated that could rise to 25 percent very soon.

Other makes seem to have seen the light as well. For example, Subaru is now offering a hybrid Crosstrek, while Nissan has the Rogue hybrid and Hyundai has the Tucson Hybrid.

However, Toyota still looks like its ahead of the curve in this segment. And when fuel prices rise, expect other automakers to scramble to achieve what Toyota already offers - a spacious, affordable, comfortable, tech-laden compact crossover that won’t kill you at the pump.

Further Reading

2019 Toyota RAV4 - Driven
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Read our full driven review of the 2019 Toyota RAV4.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2019 Toyota RAV4.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

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