The Toyota RAV4 is the best-selling SUV in the United States, and Toyota sold 448,000 of them last year in the U.S. MotorTrend tested out the 2019 Toyota RAV4 for a year to see if it would be as great as everyone seems to think. It was hopeful about the SUV, despite knowing it “wouldn’t be the most exciting vehicle.” It found that the 2019 Toyota RAV4 does have a lot to offer but isn’t better than some of its competitors.
The updated 2019 Toyota RAV4 and where it falls short
The Toyota RAV4 was redesigned for 2019, which gave it a new platform along with a new engine and new appearance. The RAV4 has a more “chiseled front face and a boxier body” than many of its rounded competitors. It gives it more the look of a body-on-frame SUV rather than today’s crossovers, according to MotorTrend.
MotorTrend found the interior to be “simple yet stylish.” The interior is accented with geometric patterns on the seats and other locations. The upholstery was comfortable and held up nicely over a year’s worth of use. MotorTrend wasn’t as happy that the doors don’t have a very wide opening, making it harder to get cargo into the rear seat.
The 2019 RAV4’s engine refinement is where it falls short. It has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. That’s matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Even the RAV4 Hybrid and RAV4 Prime have a smoother ride than the RAV4, which MotorTrend found “thrashes and groans a bit too much during acceleration.” The Honda CR-V also provides a more controlled ride than the RAV4. But, while it isn’t as smooth as its competitors, it still isn’t a rough ride.
What the 2019 Toyota RAV4 does do well
What MotorTrend loved the most about the 2019 Toyota RAV4 was not having any maintenance costs. Toyota’s maintenance program gives owners free routine maintenance in the first two years or 25,000 miles. Competitors that were also tested for a year, including the 2018 Honda CR-V LX FWD, 2017 CR-V Touring AWD, 2017 Mazda CX-5 AWD Grand Touring, and 2017 Kia Sportage EX AWD, all had maintenance costs for the year of between $223.41 and $418. All the test vehicles, including the RAV4, were driven between 17,737 miles and 28,307 miles over the course of the year.
In addition to the free maintenance, the RAV4 is agile to drive in tight city spaces. It also has great fuel efficiency. MotorTrend’s tests outperformed the EPA ratings. MotorTrend got 24.2 MPG in the city, 39.1 MPG on the highway, and 29.2 MPG combined. The EPA rated the 2019 RAV4 for 25 MPG in the city, 33 MPG on the highway, and 28 MPG combined.
Features across trim levels
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 has five trim levels: LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, and Limited. The RAV4 LE has a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, one USB port, Apple CarPlay compatibility, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot, plus a six-speaker audio system. MotorTrend was pleased with the safety features provided with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which included standard forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and driver drowsiness monitoring.
The RAV4 XLE upgrades from the LE’s standard features with a moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, five USB ports, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. MotorTrend had an XLE trim level RAV4 for its year of testing. It was priced at $31,500. At one level above the base LE trim, it provided the needed features without anything too fancy.
According to U.S. News, the XLE Premium provides a power liftgate, switches cloth upholstery for synthetic leather, and has a power-adjustable driver’s seat. The RAV4 Adventure has its own design style. It’s also the only trim that comes standard with all-wheel drive (which is optional on the other trims). It also includes an 8-inch touchscreen, HD radio, satellite radio, and downhill assist control. The top Limited trim has navigation, low-speed collision warning, rear cross-traffic braking, and heated front seats.
There are packages available for all except the base trim. The test vehicle had the XLE Convenience package, which added heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, and an adjustable power tailgate. MotorTrend did miss having Android Auto, which wasn’t available on any 2019 RAV4 but has been added to newer models.
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 doesn’t provide the smooth ride and roomier interior of competitors like the Honda CR-V, but it does have a low cost, great safety, and plenty of reliability. Those qualities are enough to make it super popular among U.S. buyers.