2019 Toyota RAV4 Shows New York Its All-New Style

5 years, 2 months ago - 28 March 2018, motor1
2019 Toyota RAV4
2019 Toyota RAV4
The popular SUV gets a complete makeover, but some things are familiar.

Making changes to your best-selling vehicle is always a little pucker worthy for automakers. In this case, the RAV4 isn't just Toyota's most popular offering. Over 400,000 units were sold in the U.S. last year, which equates to a 15 percent improvement from 2016. In other words, Toyota is offering up a completely new model while its current RAV4 is selling like hotcakes. To say there's a lot riding on this next-generation model, then, is a colossal understatement.

Now that we have full disclosure, it looks as though Toyota is following the generally accepted rule book for improving a modern day SUV. The 2019 RAV4 is all-new, riding on the automaker's TNGA platform that extends the wheelbase slightly (1.2 inches to be exact) while actually decreasing overall length, albeit by just a quarter of an inch. It's also slightly wider and just a smidge shorter than the outgoing RAV4, with the end result being an SUV that certainly looks bigger and more macho. Optional two-tone body/roof paint schemes – a fad which has become quite popular in the crossover/SUV realm – adds a bit of flavor to the RAV4's new look.

In theory, the stretched wheelbase should give the SUV better road manners, while shorter front/rear overhangs help with off-road prowess. Its manners will further be helped by a new torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system that can send 50 percent of the engine's power to the rear wheels while also channeling power left or right – hence where the vectoring comes in. The system also uses a trick set of dog clutches to completely disconnect the rear wheels under normal operation for better efficiency. It's one of three AWD systems available, along with a more traditional arrangement and Toyota's AWD-i hybrid setup that now creates 30 percent more torque for the electrically driven rear wheels.

Speaking of which, the RAV4 continues to offer a familiar 2.5-liter four cylinder for both standard and hybrid models, though Toyota says the mill now delivers better efficiency. Horsepower and mileage figures aren't yet available, but there is a new eight-speed automatic transmission in the mix for standard models. Hybrids will continue using a CVT.

Inside the new RAV4 things take on something of a minimalist look. The standard seven-inch infotainment screen moves up to a "floating" position – an eight-inch screen is optional – and Toyota's Entune 3.0 audio system with Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility is also standard. Step up to the Entune Audio Plus option and you get the bigger screen with Sirius XM radio, while the Entune Premium option adds navigation. There is of course a plethora of USB ports, wireless phone chargers, and for booming stereo fans there's an optional 800-watt JBL sound system. There's even a new rearview mirror display that can show a wider-than-normal field of vision behind the SUV thanks to a high-mount camera. That's also an optional extra, unless you opt for the range-topping Limited model which also gets you 19-inch wheels and plenty of chrome accents.

You won't have to pay extra for a plethora of safety systems, however. Standard-issue on every RAV4 is Toyota's Safety Sense, which includes familiar items like forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and emergency braking, dynamic cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, and auto high beams. New for 2019 is Lane Tracing Assist – a pseudo-autonomous system that will steer the RAV4 and provide hands-on driver assistance that Toyota says "reduces driver burden and supports safe driving, especially in traffic congestion or long highway trips." Also new is a Road Sign Assist that can identify certain road signs and alert drivers who presumably aren't paying attention. It should be noted, however, that Toyota steers clear of using the word autonomous for either of these new offerings.

The new RAV4 won't go on sale until this winter, with hybrid models due in 2019. Pricing will come later as well. Whether or not it will be as big a sales success as its predecessor will also have to wait until next year.