When Toyota's first RAV4 hit the market, it (and subsequent small SUVs such as the Honda CR-V) were called "Cute Utes". Well, 23 years of changing markets, tastes and priorities have rendered that nickname pretty well useless. And the all-new 2019 Toyota RAV4 arrives with a much more truckish look.
The sleek, pointed nose of last year's RAV4 has been replaced by a new bluff face that is clearly inspired by the Toyota Tacoma pickup. And it's not just more mature features that inspire the "all grown up" headline. I dug into the specs and found that the 2019 Toyota RAV4 is bigger than the machine that began the small crossover thing back in the middle 80s---the 1984 Toyota 4Runner.
The new RAV4 is 181.5 inches long in Adventure trim, like our tester. It's 73.4 inches wide, 68.6 inches tall, and rides on a 105.9-inch wheelbase. The original 4Runner was 174.6 inches long, 66.5 inches wide, 66.1 inches tall and rode on a 103-inch wheelbase.
There are nine (!) models of the 2019 RAV4, starting with the LE model at $25,650. The Adventure, starting at $32,900, is the more off-road targeted of the bunch, featuring torque-vectoring all-wheel drive with mud and sand, rock and dirt and snow modes.
2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWDs also come with rugged, easy-to-clean interiors. Don't give in to the urge to just hose it out like in the old days, though---there's carpet under those optional heavy-duty floor liners.
Your $32,900 also buys a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 203 horsepower with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The EPA says that combo should produce 25 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway, which squares with my experience in a week of city street and urban freeway driving. And that 203 horsepower is more than adequate. The new RAV4 is quick, easy to handle and rides very smoothly.
Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is also standard. That brings pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, full speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane tracing assist, automatic high beams, road sign assist, vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock braking, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and smart-stop technology.
There's more: Blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, downhill assist control, anti-theft alert with alarm, 19-inch black-accented alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lamps, integrated fog lights, roof rails, a power liftgate, the Entune 3.0 Audio Plus system with six speakers, an eight-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Siri Eyes Free, one dedicated USB media port plus four USB charging ports, a three-month SiriusXM trial subscription, SmartKey with pushbutton start, power driver's seat, dual-zone air conditioning with rear vents, a 120v/100w power outlet in the cargo area and a rear cargo cover.
Our tester also came with some extra-cost options:
- Adventure Grade Weather Package (Heated, leather-trimmed steering wheel, perforated heated and ventilated front bucket seats, rain-sensing wipers with de-icer function). $1,185.
- Entune 3.0 Premium Audio system (11 speakers, Clari-Fi, navigation and a wi-fi hotspot). $1,620.
- Adventure Grade Technology Package (Intelligent clearance sonar with rear cross-traffic braking, digital display rearview mirror with Homelink, Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging). $1,265.
- Power tilt/slide moonroof with one-touch open/close. $850.
- Two-tone paint (Lunar Rock with Ice Edge): $500.
- Door sill protector. $199.
- Wheel locks. $65.
- Roof rack cross bars. $315.
- All-weather floor liners and cargo tray. $269.
With $1,095 delivery processing and handling fee, the bottom line comes in at $40,263. And yes, that is the first compact SUV we've tested to cross the $40,000 barrier. But a bit more restrained approach to the options list could bring that back into the 30's.
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is a winner. And it will be fascinating to see the responses from the next Honda CR-V and Ford Escape.
UPDATE (8/22/2019 12:25 p.m.): Toyota is recalling about 14,000 RAV4s built between late May and late July of 2019 because the backup cameras may not operate properly when the vehicle is put in reverse. Owners of affected vehicles will be notified by mail in early October. You can also call the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 800-331-4331.