2019 Toyota RAV4 Review: Because Winning Can Be Easy

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2019 Toyota RAV4 Review
2019 Toyota RAV4 Review | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The compact SUV segment is constantly growing and reshaping itself to the benefit of buyers looking for space. The latest automaker to redesign their offering is Toyota with the brand-new RAV4.

The new 2019 Toyota RAV4 will pick up where the previous generation left off as the king and best-seller in its segment and rise to a whole new level. This one’s really good.

Have you read recent Toyota product reviews over the last two years or so? If you have, there’s been something of a shift from “meh” Toyota stories to “wow” Toyota stories.


Here are a few examples:

New Toyota Camry

New Toyota Avalon

New Toyota Corolla


And now, it’s the new RAV4’s turn. I’m not going to lie to you: I’m in love with everything Toyota’s released recently and the near future is looking very promising. I cannot, however, say the same thing about Lexus, to be honest…

I might be too excited about the new 2019 Toyota RAV4 because, bottom line, it’s still a RAV4. And it’s the best they’ve ever built. I get the impression that Toyota sat down in a boardroom somewhere and simply decided to crush the competition once and for all. “Let’s make it roomier, quieter, throw in more kit, give it more attitude and, why not, let’s create a cool Trail version and end the debate with a new Hybrid.” “How’s that?”

2019 Toyota RAV4 Review
2019 Toyota RAV4 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2019 Toyota RAV4 Review: If I Was to Find Faults

Not all is absolutely perfect however. This will be brief…. The revised 203-horsepower 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine is buzzy. Decibels and vibrations rise quickly as engine speeds climb. This is not so unusual in this category but it’s worth mentioning.

The other issue is the AWD. The Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD system offered with the Trail and Limited versions, with Multi-Terrain Select, is heavily front-wheel biased no matter the drive mode – it acts as though the rear wheels provide no more than assistance. The digital graphic in the instrument panel may indicate that all four wheels are working instantly and at the same time but forward progress on a snow-covered surface suggest otherwise. Either the rear axle goes online late or only a minute amount of torque, and not the disclosed 50%, is sent there.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Review: Styling And Interior Room

From here, the new 2019 Toyota RAV4 is a step up from what was previously an already excellent crossover.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Review
2019 Toyota RAV4 Interior | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The more purposeful, upright and masculine style convey a level of truck-ness that was until now a foreign concept altogether for the RAV4. This point alone will surely convince numerous potential shoppers to select the vehicle. This sentiment carries forth within the confines of the large cabin.

Buyers want more space and Toyota has given it to them. The second row is especially roomy thanks to the 30mm longer wheelbase and features a reclining seatback. The boot is huge; it’ll swallow over 1,000 litres of gear without breaking a sweat. Up front, occupants are treated to numerous small item storage options that are crucial in 2019. And as if this wasn’t enough, Toyota’s incorporated more technology than ever into their compact SUV.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Review: Kit and Caboodle…

Entune 3.0 audio is standard and includes the likes of Slacker, Yelp, Sports, Stocks, Fuel, and more apps into one. Apple CarPlay is part of the package, as are a 7-inch display, a 4.2-inch multi information display and more. Higher trims respectively gain 8- and 7-inch displays plus smart key with push-button start, a power hatch and wireless charging.

On the topic of higher trims, value, or bang-for-the-buck, becomes less obvious the more money you spend on your 2019 RAV4. Compared to two of its fiercest rivals, the Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V, everything works out until the mid-range trims. The moment you close in the top-line Limited model, the extra $2,000+ Toyota wants for it over the Mazda CX-5 GT or the Honda CR-V Touring are difficult to justify. The $33,690 XLE AWD is a better deal than then tested $40,690 Limited.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Review
2019 Toyota RAV4 Review | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

And a Good Drive Too

For those still interested in how such a vehicle drives, the 2019 RAV4 is built upon the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA-K) platform and it makes a world of a difference. The stiffer structure permits the use of a suspension calibrated more for comfort and despite this, the RAV4 handles better than all those that came before it. Ugly surfaces are expertly coped with while steering is firmly responsive and brake-pedal feel is good.

The 2.5-litre may be powerful on paper but the seat-of-the-pants gauge says that it’s no quicker than the aforementioned CR-V or CX-5. On the fuel economy front, the Toyota is nothing short of impressive. Regardless of frigid temperatures, ice, massive snow dumpings and my heavy right foot, I averaged 8.7L/100km.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Review
2019 Toyota RAV4 Review | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

When Toyota does what Toyota does

It’s scary how good Toyota’s recent vehicles are. It almost seems as though Toyota coasted for a few decades making decent cars and trucks but as the going is expected to get tougher in the car business, they’ve decided to roll up their sleeves and show everyone what they are capable of.

The new 2019 Toyota RAV4 cannot fail, will not drop from the top spot as a best-seller and will continue to win at being one of the, if not the, best of its kind. Bravo Toyota.


Other Compact SUV Reviews

2019 Subaru Forester First Drive: Versatility Can be Fun
2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature First Drive: It Finally Gets The Sportiness it Deserved
2018 Ford Escape Titanium Review
2019 Jeep Cherokee Review: Scaling Back the Boldness

2019 Toyota RAV4 Images Gallery

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