The segment leader is looking better than ever!

Not only is the Toyota RAV4 a critical model in Toyota’s lineup, but it’s also the benchmark for the compact crossover segment as a whole. First introduced in 1994, the RAV4 now enters its fifth generation and twenty-second year of production for the 2019 model year. Highlights for this latest update include a fresh look, a revamped interior, the latest tech goodies, a new platform under the skin, and the new off-road-ready Adventure grade. The hybrid powertrain returns as well. Overall, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 looks to keep its spot at the top of the crossover heap - but does it? To find out, Toyota flew me out to Carmel, California to give it a drive.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2019 Toyota RAV4.

  • 2019 Toyota RAV4 - Driven
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
  • MPG(Cty):
  • MPG(Hwy):
  • Torque @ RPM:
    401 (Est.)
  • Energy:
  • Displacement:
    2.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7.8 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    130 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

2019 Toyota RAV4 Exterior Styling

  • New, truck-like exterior
  • Front fascia derived from the Tacoma
  • LED lighting as standard
  • Optional Active grille shutters
  • 19-inch wheels available
  • Longer wheelbase
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The RAV4 brings an all-new look, for the 2019 model year, gaining a much more truck-like appearance than the outgoing model.

As such, Toyota’s design team took inspiration from models like the Tacoma, and nowhere is that more evident than in the front fascia.

Viewed head on, we see that the new RAV4’s nose now looks much broader and upright than before. The central intake now uses a similar hexagonal shape as the Japanese brand’s iconic pickup, rather than the slim intake seen previously on the 2018 RAV4. The grille insert also appears to take after the Tacoma.

Underneath the larger central intake is a secondary intake ringed in black trim, while higher in the range, fog lights take up residence in vertical surrounds placed in the bumper corners. The headlight housings are reshaped and now look blockier than before, with LED lighting elements added as standard equipment across the range. Active grille shutters are added higher in the range for enhanced fuel mileage.

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The bold aesthetic continues in the profile, where the RAV4 definitely gets more of an SUV-like influence compared to the previous model.

This is accomplished with a number of styling elements, such as straight lines for the roof, windows, and belt line, as well as highly pronounced rear fenders a more squared-off hatch. The wheel arches also get an angled, geometric shape, as opposed to the rounded arches of the previous model. Per usual, a layer of black lower body cladding provides protection from errant bits of the terrain.

To our eyes, the side’s proportions and shape have a definite air of BMW X3 to it.

Wheel sizing includes a range of sizes, colors, and designs, with dimensions including options for 17-inchers, 18-inchers, and 19-inchers.

When viewed from the rear, the first thing to jump out at us is the size of the black cladding on the rear bumper. This should keep the bumper safe when loading and unloading gear, and it helps to visually shorten the hatch space as well. Meanwhile, the visual width is enhanced thanks to a number of horizontal elements throughout, including reshaped taillight housings and lower red reflectors. Up top is a small spoiler wing that’s added to the trailing edge of the hatch, which adds some interesting styling elements to the offset black bits of trim that divide the wide D-pillar.

Not only does the latest 2019 mode year bring a fresh look, but it’s also functional, with improved aerodynamic specs thanks to the fresh taillight housings and reshaped door handles.

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In terms of exterior dimensions, the 2019 RAV4 gets a longer wheelbase than the outgoing model, with an extra 1.2 inches added between the axles.

The front and rear tracks are wider as well. The overall height was reduced on every grade but one, with the new lifted Adventure grade sporting a slightly higher roofline than the outgoing model.

Toyota is offering an interesting collection of exterior color options for 2019, with standouts including Midnight Black Metallic, Blue Flame, and Lunar Rock. Adventure models make their presence known thanks to a two-tone appearance and Ice-Edge roof color.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 105.9 inches
Overall Length 180.9 inches (LE, XLE, XLE Premium, and Limited), 181.5 inches (Adventure)
Overall Width 73 inches (LE, XLE, XLE Premium, and Limited), 73.4 inches (Adventure)
Overall Height (includes antenna) 67 inches (LE and XLE), 67.2 inches (XLE Premium and Limited), 68.6 inches (Adventure)
Front Track 63 inches (17-in wheels), 62.6 inches (19-in wheels)
Rear Track 63.7 inches (17-in wheels), 63.3 inches (19-in wheels)

TopSpeed’s Take

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Generally speaking, we like the new direction Toyota is taking with the 2019 RAV4’s styling.

Previously, we considered the RAV4 to be too angular and too pinched, especially in front, and although the aesthetic was definitely unique, we didn’t think it looked all that great.

Now, however, things are definitely much improved. The front end looks miles better than the outgoing model, with a more upright and bold attitude that lends an air of SUV-ness we haven’t seen from the nameplate in the past. The profile is also quite attractive, with just the right proportions and lines to bless the RAV4 with some extra visual muscle. The rear end is square and angled towards the top of the glass, which enhances the proportions even further, while the high black trim covering the rear bumper gives it a taller appearance.

Gone is the hatchback roofline and car-like attitude. In their stead, we find a true SUV crossover style. Finally!

2019 Toyota RAV4 Interior Design

  • New interior layout
  • Wider design elements throughout
  • Each trim has unique feature
  • Quieter and more comfortable
  • More passenger room
  • Slightly less cargo room, but still class-leading
  • Support for Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa
  • 7-inch touchscreen as standard, optional 8-inch unit
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To complement the fresh exterior style, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 arrives with a new interior layout as well, with a revamped dash design that takes a more uncluttered, premium approach than the outgoing model.

It reminds us of something that might carry a Lexus badge, and that’s a very good thing indeed.

In addition to the new look, the RAV4’s interior also comes with a new set of dimensions, with the center console now measuring in with 1.5 inches more width than the outgoing model. The center armrest is also 0.7 inches higher, while the rear armrest is 1.5 inches wider.

In back, there are new A/C vents and deeper cupholders.

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To help differentiate between the individual trim levels, the 2019 RAV4 comes with a lineup of unique interior styling themes. For example, the hybrid comes equipped with blue cloth upholstery, while the Adventure grade gets a number of orange plastic trim bits throughout. As expected, there’s additional soft-touch materials for the top-trim grades as well, plus loads of comfort features like an available eight-way power driver’s seat.

Regardless of the model grade, the RAV4 now offers extra sound deadening throughout, making it even quieter inside the cabin.

Additional storage spaces can be found scattered around the cabin too, with the higher trims equipping blue LED illumination for added nighttime visibility in the cubby holes.

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Behind the second row, the 2019 RAV4 gets as much as 37.6 cubic feet of cargo room, which is actually a bit under one cubic feet less than the outgoing model. At first glance, that might seem like a critical loss, but in reality, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 still offers more cargo space than nearly any other entry in the segment, with notable exceptions including the Nissan Rogue and Honda CR-V, both of which best the Toyota by just a few cubic feet.

To make the most of what’s still there, the storage area includes 2.5 inches of extra length, plus features like a removable partition and a cargo net that adds even more usability. Two height levels keep things organized.

Standout options include a Qi wireless charger for your smartphone and two-zone heated seats up front. You can also get yours with a heated steering wheel for the cold-morning commutes.

A Bird’s Eye View Camera with perimeter scan helps you maneuver through tight spaces. An electronic parking brake is included as well, and thankfully, it automatically engages when parked and disengage when shifting into drive, circumventing the annoyance of pressing a button and doing it yourself.

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Running the infotainment gear is a standard Entune 3.0 system with Wi-Fi Connect.

Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple CarPlay are all included in the spec. Also standard is a 7.0-inch touchscreen, which is now relocated to the top of the dash with a stand-up tablet style, rather than the dash-integrated touchscreens of past models.

Extra infotainment goodness can be had with the optional 8.0-inch touchscreen, which also includes SiriusXM Radio and an optional dynamic navigation system. Audiophiles will want to opt into the upgraded JBL stereo, which tosses in 11 speakers and pumps out as much as 800 watts of power.

Per usual, Toyota is stuffing the RAV4 with its very latest safety tech. Dubbed Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0), a bevy of features are included as standard, with standouts including a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Braking, and Intelligent Clearance Sonar. The 2019 model year also brings new features like Lane Tracing Assist and Road Sign Assist, and additional systems are offered as either optional or standard equipment depending on the trim level selected.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Interior Dimensions

Seating Capacity 5
Headroom (front) 39 inches (w/o moonroof), 37.7 inches (w/ moonroof)
Headroom (rear) 39.5 inches (w/o moonroof), 37.7 inches (w/ moonroof)
Legroom (front) 41 inches
Legroom (rear) 37.8 inches
Shoulder Room (front) 57.8 inches
Shoulder Room (rear) 56.4 inches
Hip Room (front) 54.3 inches
Hip Room (rear) 47.7 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 98.9 cubic feet
EPA Cargo Volume (behind second row) 37.6 cubic feet (w/o moonroof), 37 cubic feet (w/ panoramic moonroof)
EPA Interior Volume 136.4 cubic feet

TopSpeed’s Take

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Climbing behind the wheel, the first thing we noticed was that forward visibility is indeed quite a bit improved compared to the previous-generation RAV4.

The slope of the hood line gives the sense that you are riding much higher than you really are, which is great in that it makes you feel like you’re driving a tall truck or SUV, but without the awkward maneuverability associated with those segments.

Making this possible is a lower positioning for the side view mirrors, which helps with visibility around the A-pillar, plus a lower beltline, and new, larger rear quarter glass shape.

Rear visibility isn’t great, but that’s to be expected from a crossover vehicle, and the onboard assists (rear-view camera with guide lines, etc.) take up the slack without issue. The optional digital rear-view mirror is a nice bit of kit as well.

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Toyota also claims a smoother, quieter ride overall, and we have to agree.

The sport suspension is obviously an exception to this, but again, that’s to be expected - if you opt into the sportier grades, a harsher ride is pretty much a given, regardless of the make and model in question.

However, stay away from the sport suspension, and you’ll be cruising in comfort without any issue. Typically, crossovers ride a little rougher than their car counterparts, but the non-sport RAV4 models offer a surprisingly cushy driving experience, even on rough road surfaces. Chalk it up to the updated TNGA platform under the skin (more on that in the next section).

Despite the compact exterior dimensions and easy drivability, the 2019 RAV4 is quite roomy in the cabin. This latest model offers improved rear legroom thanks in part to the longer wheelbase, and it’s definitely noticeable when camped out on the rear seat.

Pair that with generous rear cargo room, and the 2019 RAV4’s cabin is definitely a nice place to be.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Drivetrain, Performance, And Chassis

  • 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Hybrid option on the table
  • FWD as standard, AWD is optional
  • All hybrid models are AWD as standard
  • Eight-speed automatic for the gas-only
  • Hybrid limited to CVT
  • Up to 219 horsepower with the hybrid
  • A maximum of 8.6 inches of ground clearance
  • Adventure grade gets loads of off-roading tech goodies
  • Up to 41 mpg with the hybrid
  • New TNGA-K platform underneath
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Under the hood, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 comes with a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which was updated for this latest generation changeover.

Dubbed “Dynamic Force,” the inline gas-only powerplant pairs with an eight-speed Direct-Shift automatic transmission for the cog swaps. Standout features for the gas-burner include an all-aluminum construction, a high compression ratio of 13.0:1, D4-S fuel injection, high-speed combustion, VVT-iE variable valve timing, and an impressive 40 percent thermal efficiency rating. Output is rated at 203 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 184 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm.

Standard spec for the gas-only RAV4 includes a FWD drivetrain, but AWD is available higher in the range. Go for the AWD Limited gas-only and Adventure grades models, and you’ll get Toyota’s new Dynamic Torque Vectoring system with rear driveline disconnect as standard spec, which sends up to 50 percent of the available torque to the rear wheels when needed, but switches to FWD for greater efficiency when grip is plentiful.

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Critically, Toyota is sticking to its guns and once again will offer a hybrid variant of the RAV4, including a new XSE HV hybrid sport grade model.

All hybrid models come with a separate electric motor mounted in the rear to juice the drivetrain, increasing torque levels at the rear wheels by 30 percent compared to previous models. Toyota calls this setup the Toyota Hybrid System II (THS II), and it offers a host of interesting features, such as the new Predictive Efficient Drive, which “reads the road and learns driver patterns to help optimize hybrid battery charging and discharging operations based on actual driving conditions,” the automaker explains.

As you probably expect, the hybrid is also quite efficient, achieving upwards of 41 mpg in the city. Pretty impressive for the segment, especially when you consider all hybrid models get AWD as standard.

Making it all possible is a sealed nickel-metal hydride battery pack, which juices the electric motor to add extra horsepower and torque on demand.

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Maxed out, the hybrid system produces upwards of 219 combined net horsepower.

Unlike the gas-only model’s eight-speed, the hybrid powertrain mates to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. As previously mentioned, AWD is the only drivetrain option with the hybrid.

In terms of acceleration, both the gas-only and gas-electric models take around 8 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill.

Drivers get a range of driving modes to choose from, such as “Eco,” “Normal,” and “Sport.” There’s also a Multi-Terrain Select feature for maximizing traction off paved surfaces, with options for mud, sand, rocks, dirt, and snow.

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Optional off-roader features include Hill Start Assist Control and Downhill Assist Control.

What’s more, ground clearance gets a boost over the previous RAV4, with as much as 8.6 inches offered on the XLE model, Premium, Adventure, and Limited models. The shorter overhangs also help the 2019 RAV4 achieve 19 degrees for the approach angle and 21 degrees for the departure angle. Trailer Sway Control and a 3,500-pound towing capacity add even more value for the weekend warrior buyers out there.

Under the skin, the 2019 RAV4 offers new bones thanks to the revamped Toyota New Global Architecture-K (TNGA-K) platform. This unibody construction is now 57 percent more rigid than before and comes with updated front strut and rear multi-link suspension components.

Additionally, the engine is mounted lower in the body, which provides a lower center of gravity and enhanced handling characteristics, all of which is complemented by a saddle-style fuel tank that distributes the fuel weight more evenly between both sides of the vehicle.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Drivetrain And Performance

Fuel Capacity 14.5 gallons
Drivetrain Layout (gas-only) Front-engine, FWD, AWD optional
Engine (gas only) naturally aspirated 2.5-liter Dynamic Force four-cylinder
Horsepower (gas only) 203 horsepower at 6,600 rpm
Torque (gas only) 184 lb-ft at 5,000 rpm
Transmission (gas only) Direct Shift eight-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout (hybrid) Front-engine, AWD
Engine (hybrid) naturally aspirated 2.5-liter Dynamic Force four-cylinder
Horsepower (hybrid combined net) 219 horsepower
Horsepower (hybrid gas engine) 176 horsepower at 5,700 rpm
Torque (hybrid gas engine) 163 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm
Horsepower (electric motor) 118 horsepower (front), 54 horsepower (rear)
Torque (electric motor) 149 lb-ft (front), 89 lb-ft (rear)
Battery Type (hybrid) Sealed nickel-metal hydride
Transmission (hybrid) Electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT)
0-to-60 mph (gas only) 8.2 seconds
0-to-60 mph (hybrid) 7.8 seconds
Top Speed 130 mph (est.)

2019 Toyota RAV4 EPA Estimated Fuel Economy

LE, Limited (FWD) 26 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, 29 mpg combined
LE (AWD) 26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, 29 mpg combined
XLE, XLE Premium (FWD) 27 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, 29 mpg combined
XLE, XLE Premium (AWD) 26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, 29 mpg combined
Adventure, Limited (AWD) 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, 27 mpg combined
All Hybrid Models 41 mpg city, 37 mpg highway, 39 mpg combined

2019 Toyota RAV4 Chassis And Suspension

Front Suspension Independent MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar
Rear Suspension Trailing wishbone style multi-link with stabilizer bar
Steering Electric power steering
Tire Size 225/65R17 (LE, XLE, LE HV, XLE HV), 225/60R18 (XSE HV, Limited HV), 235/55R19 (XLE Premium, Adventure, Limited)
Curb Weight 3,370 pounds - 3,800 pounds (depending on trim level and powertrain)

TopSpeed’s Take

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As mentioned in TopSpeed’s Take for the Interior section, the view out the front window makes you think you’re driving a truck, but the RAV4 still maintains that car-like ease-of-driving you’d expect from a leader in the compact crossover segment.

Not only is the RAV4 easy to maneuver, but the refined suspension tuning keeps it quite comfortable as well, with a quiet, yet confident demeanor that speaks well to Toyota’s tuning prowess.

The new parallel-type electric power steering system rack contributes to that overall quality feeling as well.

My impression of the sport-tuned suspension set-up is that it’s a bit too bouncy, but again, that’s to be expected from such a setup. Personally, I’d prefer the cushier suspension option, as I wouldn’t really look for high-end corner-carving performance from any compact crossover.

Put your foot to the floor, and the gas-only RAV4 feels a bit sluggish.

You won’t have any trouble with onramps, but you won’t be grinning ear-to-ear with every wide-open throttle blast, either.

By comparison, the hybrid feels much meatier, all thanks to a helpful dollop of low-end torque.

The fun dies higher in the power band, but the overall experience was definitely a solid effort for the segment.

I’d qualify it as “quick enough” for a compact crossover, and I find the fact the hybrid can achieve more than 40 mpg in the city to be far more appealing.

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The final piece of the puzzle arrives off the beaten path.

During my test drive, Toyota set up an off-road course to prove the 2019 RAV4’s worth in the dirt, pitting the crossover against loose surfaces, steep hills, angled berms, deep ruts, and suspension-articulating bumps.

All told, I walked away impressed. Granted, I wouldn’t place the RAV4 at the same level as more dedicated off-roaders like, say, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, but it’s definitely an impressive improvement overall, especially with all that optional onboard tech added to the mix (Downhill Assist Control, etc.). Be on the lookout, as we’ll post a full rundown on the 2019 Toyota RAV4’s off-roading capability soon.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Pricing

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Pricing for the 2019 Toyota RAV4 starts at $25,500. Gas-only models will go on sale in December of 2018, while the hybrid will be available by late March of 2019.

There are five gas-only grades on offer, including the LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, and Limited. Meanwhile, hybrid customers can get into the LE HV, XLE HV, XSE HV, and Limited HV. Below you’ll find a breakdown on the major model grades, including a list of standout features and a full pricing table.

LE - Multi-LED headlights and taillights, dual exhaust, roof rails, privacy glass, 4.2-inch Multi-Information Display, soft-touch dash and armrests

XLE - 17-inch wheels, chrome bezel headlights with automatic on/off feature, fog lights, LED turn signals on the side view mirrors plus blind-spot warning indicators, power tilt/slide moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear air vents, remote keyless entry, four additional USB ports

XLE Premium - 19-inch wheels with super-chrome finish, SofTex upholstery, 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat and 2-way lumbar support, power liftgate, leather-trimmed steering wheel

Adventure - 19-inch wheels with matte-black trim, 8.6 inches of ground clearance, active grille shutters, two-tone exterior paint, model-exclusive Mocha SofTex upholstery interior plus orange stitching and orange trim bits, optional heated and ventilated front seats

XSE HV - sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels finished in black, piano black exterior accents, LED projector headlights, signature LED daytime running lights, two-tone exterior paint, SofTex interior trim with blue accents, Digital Rearview Mirror

Limited - silver exterior accents, 19-inch wheels with gray metallic finish, standard power moonroof, optional panoramic sunroof, 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat with 2-way power lumbar support, heated and ventilated seats, 7-inch Multi-Information Display, power liftgate, Dynamic Navigation, 8-inch touchscreen, Digital Rearview Mirror

2019 Toyota RAV4 Pricing
Grade Level Gas FWD Gas AWD Hybrid
Limited $33,500 $34,900 $35,700
XSE HV N/A N/A $33,700
Adventure N/A $32,900 N/A
XLE Premium $29,500 $30,900 N/A
XLE $27,300 $28,700 $29,500
LE $25,500 $26,900 $27,700

All models include a 36-month/36,000-mile basic new-vehicle warranty, as well as an additional 60-month warranty that covers the powertrain for 60,000 miles and corrosion with no mileage limitation.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Competition

Nissan Rogue

2017 Nissan Rogue High Resolution Exterior
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The Rogue is Nissan’s number-one seller in the U.S., offering loads of cargo room and a fuel-sipping engine lineup. Inside the cabin, the Rogue is decked out with a 7-inch infotainment screen as standard, while a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot is an available option. The latest 2018 model year also comes with the option for Nissan’s ProPilot Assist pack, which includes features adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and automatic emergency braking. Motivation is derived from a four-cylinder gas engine producing 170 horsepower, all of which is routed through either a FWD or AWD drivetrain. Pricing starts at $24,800.

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Rogue.

Honda CR-V

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The Honda CR-V makes for a solid opponent to the RAV4, boasting oodles of space, loads of tech, and several impressive engine options. Upwards of 190 horsepower can be had under the hood, and word has it a hybrid option is on the way soon. Safety features include standouts like blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, rear-cross traffic alert, lane-departure warning, and automatic emergency braking. Additional tech goodies like optional Apple CarPlay and Android Auto keep you connected, while space is more than ample in the cargo area. Pricing starts at $24,250.

Read our full review on the 2017 Honda CR-V.

Final Thoughts

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The RAV4 is a popular model. Really popular.

In fact, it’s not only the best-selling Toyota in the U.S. and the best-selling crossover in its segment, but it’s also the best-selling non-pickup truck across all makes.

That’s impressive stuff, and with sales volume doubling in the last five years, including more than 400,000 units sold in the U.S. in 2017 alone, you can bet Toyota is keen to hold onto its position of superiority.

After driving the 2019 model year for ourselves, we have no doubt Toyota will do exactly that.
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First, the styling. The latest RAV4 looks much more appealing than in years past, and it finally looks filled-out as a legitimate SUV in terms of overall styling.

The interior is nice as well, especially higher in the range, where the onboard tech for entertainment, safety, and convenience put it at the top of its class. The latest layout update makes it even nicer inside, and the space for cargo and passengers is still a leader in the segment.

Then we have the hybrid powertrain, which is one of the biggest draws in our book. High fuel mileage, extra low-end muscle, and very little compromise make this the most tempting option in the lineup, especially considering the rather modest up-charge to go green.

The Adventure grade is an interesting prospect as well. Previously, we had said we’d be reluctant to take the RAV4 off-roading. Now, that’s changed. Properly equipped, the RAV4 has what it takes to get across challenging terrain without a hiccup, whether it’s in a bid to reach that epic trailhead, or the launch point, or you just wanna get away from it all.

Break it down, and the Toyota RAV4 is great for three big reasons - the technology on board, the hybrid option, and the high value for money.

Granted, it’s not terribly exciting to drive, even in its sportiest configuration, but as a jack-of-all-trades compact crossover, we would confidently place the 2019 Toyota RAV4 among the very best out there.

  • Leave it
    • Not that exciting to drive
    • Additional hybrid competitors on the way

Further Reading

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.