2019 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD Review

Amy Plemons | April 30, 2019
2019 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD Review

This week, I bring you the all-new 2019 Toyota RAV4 Limited. The RAV4 is a popular seller and ranks as the 7th best-selling vehicle as of the first quarter, behind the Nissan Rogue and Honda CR-V. The 5th- generation is all-new and replaces an outgoing generation that had worn out its welcome. The RAV4 is offered in six trims, including a hybrid. It’s built on a new platform shared with the Corolla and Camry and it continues Toyota’s edict to inject more personality and excitement into the Toyota lineup.

Exterior

I’m a fan of the RAV4 Limited’s new chiseled, Lexus-NX inspired look and upgraded 19-inch chrome wheels. It certainly gives a more prominent, stylish appearance than the outgoing model. A dark gray hexagon patterned grille looks polished, and not over the top, and it’s flanked by multi-LED headlights with chrome bezels and daytime running lights, as well as integrated fog lights. There are LED taillights and dual chrome exhaust tips in the back and low profile roof rails on top.

Interior

The RAV4 interior is a nice place to be. It’s very roomy, with tons of space and leg-room in both rows, and lots of daylight to go with it, thanks to my tester’s impressive optional $200 panoramic sunroof.

Inside you get a multi-color interior with really soft Nutmeg-colored SofTex-trimmed power adjustable and heated front bucket seats with plenty of cushioning. Ventilated seats are available in a package. You get a leather-trimmed tilt/telescopic three-spoke steering wheel. The dash is a multi-layered affair of soft touch surfaces and accent trim.

One thing you’ll note is the use of rubber around the dual-zone,and very large, A/C knob controls and drive mode selector as well as the anti-slip interior door grip handles. On the center console you see the Automatic Electric Parking Brake with Brake Hold.

Powertrain

So far so good. Until I got behind the wheel to check out the RAV4’s powertrain. A 2.5-liter four cylinder delivers 203-horsepower and 184 lb.-ft of torque, but I found the initial acceleration sluggish and uninspiring. The 8-speed transmission wasn’t as smooth at low speeds as I would have liked, either. What’s more, the engine revs are pretty noisy. Driving in sport mode as opposed to Eco and Normal did provide a better overall feel. Mud and Sand, Rock and Dirt and Snow (AWD only) modes are also on the menu. Stop Start can be disabled.

Ride

After the engine smoothed out, I’m happy to say the overall ride quality and suspension quality was nice especially on highway driving. The RAV4 has a nice turning radius and I found it easy to drive and maneuver, though the steering was definitely on the looser side for someone used to a much tighter sports car feel. (If it is driving dynamics you’re after, check out the Mazda CX-5 over the RAV4, CR-V and Rogue.) In terms of cabin noise, I did find it to be noisier than I would have liked.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Limited B-roll Video

 

Utility

On the utility side, the RAV4 offers some attractive features either standard or as options. Visibility is great both out the front and the rear window. The optional height-adjustable power liftgate operates on the faster side, which I like. It also has heated side mirrors. You get 37.6 cu. ft. of trunk space behind the second row, which while less than the Rogue or the CR-V but is more than enough for groceries or sporting gear. The Limited comes with a cargo cover and rear cargo area deckside-mounted storage net. You can tow up to 1,500 pounds on all but the Adventure grade which tows 3,500 lbs (the hybrid model can tow even more.) Visibility is great both out the front and the rear window.

Technology

My favorite new tech feature would be the digital rearview mirror. (Standard only on the Limited.) Tech updates also include its 7-inch digital driver display. While it’s colorful, I’d like to see a bigger font size. My model has the optional Entune 3.0 premium 11-speaker JBL audio system ($580). An 8-inch Navigation touchscreen protrudes out of the center dash. It’s a big improvement over the formerly slanted one, yet I still found glare to be an issue. All but the base model RAV4 comes with 5 USB Ports. Connectivity also gets a boost. Apple Carplay and Amazon Alexa integration are also new to the lineup, but still no Android Auto.

Options

My test model is equipped with the $1,025 limited grade package that includes a Smart Key System, foot-activated power liftgate, 360-degree camera and wireless phone charger. Carpet floor mats and cargo mat tack on another $269.

You’ll have to spring for the $1,185 cold-weather package for a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated seats and rain-sensing wipers which my tester did not have,

Safety

Safety is a big selling point of any Toyota. The new RAV4 is equipped with Toyota’s latest 2.0 safety sense system standard across the lineup. The updated suite of safety tech now includes road sign assist (though the signs are on the small side in the tachometer). It also includes pre-collision with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic assist.

Fuel Economy

The RAV4 delivers 28 mpg combined, which I found true in real-world driving (25 city/33 highway). It’s also competitive with the segment.

What You’ll Pay

Starting from around $25,000, the RAV4 seems like an economical, reliable, choice. But my top of the line test model takes it to $38,019. For that price, it’s missing the head up display and cooled seats on the 2019 Mazda CX 5 (though its turbo engine hurts its fuel economy.)

All in all, however, the RAV4 is poised to continue to be a leader in its segment.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Limited

  • What I liked most: Its new looks, comfortable, roomy interior and $200 panoramic sunroof.
  • What I would change: Give me a different powertrain and quieter cabin.
  • MSRP: $34,900 base price, total MSRP with transportation: $38,019.
  • Fuel Economy: 25 city/33 highway 28 combined.
  • Official Color: Blueprint.
  • Odometer reading when tested: 4,238.
  • Weight: 3,620.
  • Final Assembly Location: Aichi, Japan
  • Spare Tire: Temporary spare.
  • Length-Width-Height: 180.9” long/ 73” wide/67.2 ” high.
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.5 gallons with the filler on the driver’s side.
  • Towing Capacity: 1,500 lbs (3,500 Adventure Grade)
  • 2019 RAV4 in a few words: A much improved stylish and roomy SUV.
  • Warranty: 3-year, 36,000 Basic New Vehicle Warranty,50year, 60,000 Powertrain; 5-year, Unlimited mile Corrosion.
  • Manufacturer’s website: Toyota
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Paul Skaggs
Does the RAV 4 hybrid have the CVT transmission. What is your opinion of the CVT transmission. You seemed skeptical about it on a recent show.
The Car P.
Yes, it does have a CVT but if performs well. You may have heard me speaking of the 2012 to 2015 Nissan CVT, it was problematic, but Toyota has never had any problems. The CVT is one of the reasons the fuel economy is so good.

We have a review up now by Terry Box, and Amy is doing a different RAV hybrid this week.

We have good Toyota dealers all over that will save you money.

Jerry Reynolds
Keith S
Does the Hybrid alleviate the initial sluggish acceleration and does the 219 HP add to the current 203 HP of this model in torque or ride quality.
Amy P.
Hi Keith, this is the not the hybrid version. The gas-powered engine delivers 203 horsepower for 2019. I've spent about 10 minutes total in the Hybrid on another occasion, but in those few moments I did get a better impression of the engine's acceleration. I would certainly recommend test driving both models to make a comparison.