Compact SUV Comparison: 2019 Toyota RAV4
- Bold SUV styling sets RAV4 apart
- Gas and hybrid models are more fuel efficient, up to 39 mpg combined
- New platform improves handling
- Safety Sense 2.0 comes standard
- Pricing starts at $26,545 (including $1,045 destination charge) | See RAV4 models for sale near you
New Look, New Attitude
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 rides on a new platform, the company’s Toyota New Global Architecture, that brings with it less weight and a new suspension, both of which give the RAV4 some pizzazz that previous models lacked. On top of that new foundation is a new angular body that looks more SUV-like, with a more planted stance and well-defined wheel wells and body lines. But as different as the new RAV4 looks, it still carries with it the same philosophy: making safety, comfort, efficiency and reliability high priorities. Another trick up its sleeve: the RAV4 is one of a very select few in the compact SUV segment to offer a hybrid option.
Top-Notch Interior, Impressive Amenities
Toyota offers several trim levels and either cloth or SofTex seating, with themes that run from practical and basic to sporty or premium. (Leather isn’t available.) We were impressed by the attention to detail inside, where there are more soft-touch materials, and the black and tan color combination of our tester was simple yet attractive. Both the touch screen, which is the control center for Apple CarPlay, navigation and audio, and the climate control knobs below use grippy surrounds, which offer a pleasant tactile feel. Previous RAV4s boast roomy interiors, and that continues with the all-new model. Of the three SUVs we evaluated, the RAV4 has the roomiest back seat and it should be noted that the RAV finally comes with air vents for rear passengers. That roominess is also present in the huge cargo area. Some road noise was transmitted into the cabin, but wind noise was pleasantly low.
Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard on all 2019 Toyota RAV4s, which means they all receive adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection that can also detect cyclists during the day. Optional features include heated and cooled front seats, a 360-degree view camera, as many as five USB ports, 11-speaker JBL audio, panoramic moonroof and Qi smartphone charging. You can also get torque vectoring or gear for light off-roading. However, Toyota missed an opportunity here by neglecting to offer Android Auto compatibility, and some of the soft-touch materials are optional, so you have to climb the trim-level ladder before you get all of the nice interior pieces.
The 2.5-liter gas engine, paired with an 8-speed automatic, provides decent power, but for a peppier drive, we recommend putting the RAV4 in Sport mode, where you can enjoy quicker downshifts and higher-rpm upshifts. Handling is a huge improvement over the previous RAV4, which felt a bit wallowy. The RAV4 feels crisp and more responsive, but the CR-V still offers the best handling of the trio. This is the only engine option for the gas RAV4, but it’s a good one. For more power and even better fuel economy, you can look to the hybrid model.
Get more driving impressions in our 2019 Toyota RAV4 First Review
Strong Value Quotient
With the new Toyota RAV4, the manufacturer offers a lot more standard equipment than the cost of the slight price increase. In addition, Toyota has a rock-solid reputation for reliability and resale value. And in both gas and hybrid form, the RAV4 has excellent fuel economy, anticipated to be best in class, reducing the number of times you’ll need to spend money on gas.