Redesigned for 2019, Toyota’s fifth generation RAV4 is the top selling small AWD SUV in the country.
Aside from its stylish yet macho looks, the RAV offers a new engine with 27 more horsepower, is 1.2 inches longer, yet has a lighter curb weight for improved fuel economy. It also provides the latest in safety technology and infotainment niceties.
Offered in LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure and Limited, we were privileged to test the Adventure that sports a slightly more rugged, off-road look with its flared fenders, 1.9-inch higher undercarriage clearance and 19-inch tires, compared to the other trim versions.
We fell in love with the Adventure for many reasons, but mainly its eye-catching paint job. It came adorned with a Lunar Rock body color and white roof paint scheme. A greyish color that is so appropriate for a capable off-roader.
But RAV’s stylish looks is not only on its exterior, but Adventures’ interior is equally as eclectic. With light grey and white trim with orange accents together with supportive and comfy perforated leather seats that carry the orange stitching theme, they really set off the cockpit giving it a bright and sexy appearance. It’s truly an adventure when slipping behind the steering wheel.
With an iPad type, 8-inch touchscreen that perches atop the dash, it has a split-screen capability and serves the usual compliment of rearview camera, App-Connect with Apple CarPlay, Entune infotainment, JBL audio, and current/3/6/12-day forecasts, plus a weather map.
Below it are easy to operate HVAC controls and a bin beneath them resides a convenient wireless smartphone charger.
RAV4 Adventure has a special AWD system that can send torque to either front, rear, left or right wheels. It has four modes of Mud/Sand, Rock/Dirt, Snow and Downhill. When selecting any of these modes, a pictorial displays within the speedometer that also serves as a driver information display. The only gear missing is a Lock gear that is handy when getting stuck in deep snow or mud. There are also three driving modes of Eco, Normal and Sport, the latter livens performance somewhat.
This brings us to the powertrain. RAV has but one. A 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder that puts out 203-hp and 183 lb/ft of torque. It couples to an 8-speed automatic transmission that earned EPA mileage estimates of 25 city, 33-highway mpg. Most of RAV’s competitors employ a CVT to attain similar mileage estimates. But thankfully Toyota maintained a traditional trans that helps the RAV to tow an impressive 3,500 pounds. Only thing missing are paddle shifters to downshift when traversing downhill’s, instead of riding the brakes.
So powered, RAV exudes a linear application of power. Under half and full throttle, the engine is a bit on the noisy side. But on highways, RAV offers an exceptionally quiet ride. We did notice the accelerator pedal is touchy and requires acclimating to its sensitivity for smoother starts from a dead stop.
Handling wise, RAV4 is balanced with nary any body lean in sharp turns. Its suspension nicely absorbs most road imperfections and only major bumps and protruding tar strips reverberate into the cabin. Otherwise it rides smoothly on Toyo 19-inch tires. RAV parks easily as well, with a tight 37.5 turning radius. It’s nimble and fun to drive.
For back seat riders, a comfortable 19-inch step-in allows an easy slip-in thanks to wide opening doors. RAVs back seat is exceptionally comfy for two adults or three tweens. All are treated to decent leg room and spacious headroom.
Back in the cargo area, where the liftgate can be opened by a wave of the foot beneath the rear bumper, it has a low 27.5-inch liftover. Within it, there’s a generous amount of cargo space, the largest in its class. It offers 37.5 cubic feet with the rear seats upright, which translates into it being 40 inches deep, 44 wide and 32 high. Flip the seatbacks and cargo depth expands to 70 inches, almost a full six feet. Beneath the cargo floor a few small items can be stowed around the spare tire and out of sight.
Standard on the Adventure model is Toyota’s Sense Suite 2.0 that contains pre-collision with pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane tracing assist and more.
The Adventure started at a base price of $32,900 but escalated with a few much desired options that included: Adventure Grade Weather Package ($1,185) with heated seats/steering wheel, rain sensing and de-icing wipers; power moonroof ($850); Adventure Technology Package ($1,265) with rear cross traffic braking, wireless phone charger, digital display rearview mirror and more; Entune Infotainment System ($1,620) with satellite radio, JBL audio, 8-inch touchscreen (a 7-inch is standard) with voice recognition and many more. The two-tone paint job (white roof) adds $500 and cargo/floor mats tack on $269 along with delivery ($1,045) takes the bottom line to $39,634.
It’s a premium price for a premium crossover that is probably the best RAV4 to date. And its sales numbers reflect it. I want one.