SEATTLE — One can’t deny the sales success of the RAV4 for Toyota. Over the years, it has consistently been one of its top selling vehicles. This redesigned 2019 model is, by far, Toyota’s best RAV4 yet. This hybrid version presents a solid value in regards to features, reliability and economy. With incredibly fuel economy and 219 horsepower it’s going to be tough for the competition to compete.
Stylistically, we see a much-welcomed departure from the “cute” look of previous generations. Instead, we get a more boxy, even masculine look, which is more in-line with Toyota’s design language in the rest of its trucks and SUV line-up.
Toyota has an inline 4-cylinder engine that’s been mated to the electric motors to develop a combined output of 219 horsepower. Unfortunately, however, that power is delivered by a constantly variable transmission (CVT). This numbs the driving experience for many drivers, by orders of magnitude. However, CVT has been something many Japanese automakers have adopted over the last few years. Towing capacity isn’t that stellar and is rated at only up to 1,750 pound. Its batteries are stored under the 2nd row passenger seats, leaving room in the rear cargo area for an actual spare tire.
The real kicker is its insanely great fuel economy of up to 41 miles per gallon on the highway and 37 around town (EPA estimate, real world can often be better). That’s better economy that most subcompact crossovers available. Consider the size and weight of the RAV4 , it’s hard to imagine how it does so well. Thankfully, Toyota is a pioneer in Hybrid technology and know-how, and that’s definitely evident here.
This all-wheel- drive system features several goodies, including a trail mode which will help the driver circumnavigate those more challenging trails. However, the stock tires aren’t really good for much more than very casual off-roading. We’d love to test out the all-wheel-drive feature with some off-road tires one day.
Interior build quality is equally ramped up as the rest of the RAV4. Its sleek-looking, comfortable seats and smooth-looking trim lines, coupled with the use of high quality materials really give it an upscale look and feel.
Like most all new Toyota’s, this RAV4 features the latest “ToyotaSense” safety package, which includes adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, parking sensors, lane keep assist and even sensors for pedestrians.
JBL provides the amplification and speakers for the audio system and sonic fidelity is rather good. Not quite as stellar as the higher-end systems we’ve listened to in more expensive Toyota products but still damn good. Support for AM/FM/Sirrus XM/mp3/CD and Bluetooth audio are all in tow as well. You’ll find that the inclusion of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will make using a linked cell phone very easy and much safer. Its large, 7-inch display screen is easy to read and navigate through.
Cargo room is very ample, however, a tad smaller than other vehicles in its class but it more than makes up for that with plenty of legroom for all passengers. Seat comfort, even for those in the second row, is very comfortable and rarely should anyone – even an adult – feel cramped back there.
The 2019 Rav4 XSE Hybrid is easily a contender for best small crossover SUV around. It does so many things very well – save the silly CVT transmission. It has adept handling, excellent styling, all the tech gadgets we can fathom and priced extremely competitively. Our test vehicle topped off at $37,899 as equipped, including destination charge.
No doubt that the Rav4 is an important vehicle for Toyota but in many ways it’s equally as important for consumers at large, even non-Rav4 customers. How, you may ask? Well, it has raised the bar for other automakers to follow and does so many things very well. It can only get better for consumers with trend-setting vehicles, like this one.
If you’re in the market for a compact crossover SUV, than the RAV4 XSE Hybrid is more than worthy of your consideration and test drive. We’re confident you’ll find it’s hard to find better.
For more information, check out: www.toyota.com