A new compact sport utility vehicle is a big deal given the way the market is trending. When one of the most popular SUVs in Canada is redesigned, say like the all-new Toyota RAV4, it’s an even bigger deal.
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 was unveiled at the 2018 New York International Auto Show and officially arrived in dealerships late last year. All-new from the wheels up, the new RAV4 has more power and is supposed to be more fun to drive.
It’s offered in a wide range of versions starting at $27,990, but the only engine option is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that delivers 203 horsepower. Already the RAV4 takes the number one spot in its segment for power as you won’t find another compact SUV with more ponies in its base engine.
That said, the amount of horsepower developed by an SUV isn’t usually the top decision criteria for buyers interested in this segment. They want space, comfort, features, and value.
Every 2019 RAV4 gets Toyota Safety Sense standard which means radar-based full range adaptive cruise control, automatic braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist, lane trace assist that will keep you between the lane markers and essentially steer automatically through turns, and automatic headlights all come at no extra charge, among other features. You also get blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert at no extra charge.
Heated seats, Apple CarPlay and an 8-speed automatic gearbox are all standard as well. The infotainment system includes Toyota’s new 3.0 Entune multimedia system housed in a 4.2-inch screen.
Front-wheel drive comes in two models: The base LE and XLE (dual-zone climate, moonroof, leather steering wheel and smart key). All-wheel drive 2019 Toyota RAV4s start at $30,690 for the LE with XLE and top-of-the-line Limited models also offered.
For this article here, we are only focusing on the regular RAV4, and not the recently announced hybrid version.
Why You Should Buy a 2019 Toyota RAV4
1) There is a remarkable amount of interior space in the RAV4. It’s right up there with the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Subaru Forester. The cabin feels wide open and it’s so easy to get in and out of the RAV4. It’s cargo capacity isn’t quite as generous as the CR-V or Rogue (1,064 liters), but you won’t really notice the difference. What matters is that it’s as versatile as you could ever need a compact SUV to be.
2) Fuel economy is incredible for such a spacious SUV, especially considering that the previous RAV4 was far from the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its segment. The new RAV4 does so much better with an average fuel consumption rating of just 8.3 liters per 100 kilometers. We averaged 9.8 liters per 100 kilometers on icy, snowy roads which isn’t as good as our Mazda CX-5, but not far off and conditions weren’t as ideal. In any case, fuel economy in the 2019 Toyota RAV4 is very impressive. Matt even managed to average 8.7 liters per 100 kilometers... In winter…
3) The RAV4 has a balanced ride that can be as sporty as it can be comfortable. The previous RAV4 was meant to be more fun to drive, this one actually is. Is it as enjoyable as a Mazda CX-5 or Volkswagen Tiguan? No. But it’s right up there and more comfy that the other two. When it comes to balancing sportiness with ride comfort, the 2019 RAV4 does it better than any other compact SUV.
4) We like the level of equipment you get in the LE and XLE versions. We’d stay away from the Limited model and we haven’t tried the Trail just yet (basically, the Trail gets a more advanced all-wheel drive system and more towing capacity along with a more rugged design), but both the LE and XLE offer a ton of features at a reasonable price.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy a 2019 Toyota RAV4
1) We just talked about the versions and the first two are fine, but the other two are slightly overpriced. The real issue here, however, is that if you’re financing or leasing, interest rates are very high right now. A 36-month lease as a 4.99 percent APR while a 60-month financing contract will run around 5.49 percent. We get that Toyota wants to capitalize on the RAV4 being new, but it’s a lot of coin.
2) On paper, the RAV4’s 2.5-liter engine has more power than any base compact SUV with 203 hp. On the road, the engine really doesn’t like to be pushed and can be noisy when asked to accelerate or pass. We also noticed that the engine was very noisy when it was cold out.
Final Word on the 2019 Toyota RAV4
The Toyota RAV4 has consistently been among the best-sellers in its segment and this new generation shouldn’t be any different. It’s spacious, comfortable, fairly agile and certainly more fun to drive than any other Toyota RAV4 before it. It looks pretty darn good as well. Financing and lease rates will make you jump, but at least the RAV4 has historically held a strong resale value.