2019 Toyota RAV4: What you need to know

One of the most popular small SUVs gets an upgrade.

The 2019 RAV4 has a more aggressive new look.
The 2019 RAV4 has a more aggressive new look. –Toyota

Small crossovers and SUVs make up one of the fastest-selling corners of the new-car market. They offer increased ride height and a commanding driving position without breaking the bank on price or fuel economy. One of the cornerstones of this market is the Toyota RAV4.

This compact crossover has been redesigned for 2019. It is on an all new platform and boasts plenty of new features, powertrains, and technology. Read on to learn more about the latest version of the RAV4 before they hit dealers this winter (hybrids in early 2019).

Brawny new look

The RAV4 is definitely channeling its more rugged siblings, the 4Runner and Tacoma. The large, trapezoidal grille is similar in many ways to the Tacoma TRD-Pro. The rear end seems inspired by the Toyota Highlander and even has shades of the Lexus NX (the two share the same platform).

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A neat design feature is the available two-tone paint scheme, employing a white or black contrast roof. This was once employed by the discontinued Toyota FJ Cruiser, and has seen a comeback with vehicles like the Volvo XC40.

The distinctive two-tone paint scheme available on the new RAV4. —Toyota

More powerful

The standard four-cylinder engine continues to displace 2.5 liters, but according to Toyota boasts a 15-percent increase in horsepower. At this time, there are no power figures, but a 15-percent bump would put it in the 200-horsepower range. Power is sent to a new eight-speed automatic, replacing the old six-speed. This should manage power well, and provide strong acceleration in more speed ranges.

More capable

The RAV4 will also employ a more capable all-wheel drive system. Available on the Adventure trims, it is called Dynamic Torque Vectoring with Driveshaft Disconnect. It allows for true gear ratio changes and can send up to 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels, and has the ability to send power to each rear wheel independently. For getting off the beaten path, the new RAV4 has Multi-Terrain Select, which can tune power delivery for various driving conditions.

A ‘sporty’ hybrid?

Toyota will continue to offer a RAV4 Hybrid, which will have a new motor, and an updated version of the i-AWD system (mechanical power to front wheels, electric power to rear). Toyota claims class-leading fuel economy, including on the new, top-of-the-lineup XSE Hybrid.

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The hybrid’s battery pack has been moved from the rear cargo area to under the rear seat—this ensures you won’t have to chose between cargo space and fuel economy.

The RAV4 features a sharp, functional cabin. —Toyota

Spacious, high-tech cabin

The new platform is longer and wider, which should yield more cargo space. For reference, the previous RAV4 had 73.4 cubic feet, so even a small increase could put it past the class-leading Honda CR-V and its 75 cubic feet of cargo space.

The RAV4’s interior blends form and function, with festive accents, and plenty of useful trays and compartments. At the center of the dash is the new floating touchscreen, running the latest version of Toyota’s Entune 3.0. A seven-inch screen is standard, and a later eight-inch screen is available.

Both screen sizes will come with Apple CarPlay. The RAV4 will also have Wifi powered by Verizon, as well as Amazon Alexa connectivity.

Peace-of-mind, standard

Toyota is one of the early brands to make high-tech driver-assistance features standard on many of its vehicles. To that end, the 2019 RAV4 comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. This suite of safety technologies includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, dynamic cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams.

For 2019, TSS also comes standard with Lane Tracing Assist and Road Sign Assist. Lane Tracing Assist locates the lines in the road, and while using the dynamic cruise control, can employ small steering assists to stay in the center of the lane. It should be noted this is a “hands-on” driver assist. And as the name suggests, Road Sign Assist can read road signs and present them on the information display in the instrument panel.

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Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the RAV4 comes with Android Auto. Boston.com regrets the error.