2019 Toyota RAV4

Same good CUV with tougher looks



  • 박재승 (james@koreatimes.net) --
  • 04 Mar 2019

By James Park


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Someone with decision-making power at Toyota must’ve thought the previous generation RAV4s as looking too soft, too well-mannered and perhaps little too metro-sexual.

   Take a gander at the all-new, completely made-over fifth-generation model to notice the exterior styling that makes you want to grab your survival gears and head into the Sasquatch country.

   Still, some observers maybe perplexed. It’s because for the last couple of decades in Canada’s compact crossover market, the RAV4 reigned supreme. They might say “why not let the good times roll,” pointing out the latest model’s styling change may go too far and upset the existing customer base. Time will tell.

   As it is, the new 2019 RAV4 appears much more aggressive, especially from the front. Personally, the massive lower grill and protruding skid-plate conjures up the image of catfish. The vehicle is longer, wider and has sharper edges. It is arguably more ‘masculine’ than before.

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   Regardless of potentially controversial exterior, the car’s interior oozes soothing ambience of simple elegance. Almost minimalist approach to the dashboard layout is pleasing to this writer’s eyes. The centre console with large touch-screen on top and HVAC controls below appears well-organized and all controls are intuitive and easy to operate. Thanks Toyota for sticking with the traditional PRNDL shifter.

   The seats are supportive and visibility is excellent all around. The cabin is roomier than before, with rear-seat passengers getting more legroom. All the materials used give off quality vibe and the overall fit and finish seems above average – kudos to Canadian workers at the Toyota manufacturing plants in Cambridge and Woodstock, Ontario.

   The sole engine propelling the new RAV4 is the naturally aspirated 2.5 litre four-cylinder good for 203 horses and 183 lb-ft of adequate twist. Transferring power to either the front wheels or to the optional AWD system is the new eight-speed automatic transmission.

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Full disclosure: As an owner of the third-generation RAV4 with the optional 3.5 litre V6 (no longer available), this writer is always disappointed with lack of power in later generation models.

   However, Toyota also offers hybrid version of the RAV4 with the same 2.5 litre mill accompanied by electric motor to produce combined 219 horsepower. In fact, the hybrid is touted as the ‘sportier’ RAV4 but one needs to be tolerant of the CVT it is equipped with.

   The RAV4 lineup offers myriad choices for the loyal customers. The base LE version with FWD starts from $27,990 before taxes and mandatory fees – add 2,700 loonies for the AWD. The mid-level XLE can also be had with either FWD or AWD. The ‘Trail’ iteration with smidge more off-road capability starts from $38,690 and the top-of-the-line gasoline only Limited model demands $40,690. The Trail and the Limited have AWD as standard.

   The hybrid models all get AWD and goes from $32,090 for the LE, $35,090 for the XLE and the Limited starts from $42,090.

   The Limited non-hybrid model provided to this writer comes with plethora of standard equipments including JBL premium audio, power sunroof, navigation, heated/cooled leather seats, heated leather steering wheel, power lift-gate, etc. Apple Carplay is available but one needs to wait a little longer for the Android Auto. The only option of $255 paint job on the test-vehicle pushed its as-tested price to $40,945.

   The RAV4 also comes with Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 version comprised of such sought-out electronic chaperones as pre-collision system with pedestrian and bicycle detection, radar cruise control, lane-departure warning as well as lane-tracing assist.

   Power feels adequate from the 2.5 litre engine and in most everyday situation it pulls the 1,642 kg (3,620 lb) vehicle without drama. No, it’s not going to keep up with Macan or even XC40, but commuting to work and hauling family to the nearest shopping mall poses no problem.

   However, the big four-banger sounds coarse at times. The eight-speed tranny shifts smoothly for the most part but does not want to down-shift as quickly at times.

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   The drive modes consist of Eco, Normal and Sport. Putting it in Normal seems to work the best, at least to this driver. Sport mode hurries things a bit, but it feels somewhat contrived, as if the car’s heart is not really in it.

   On the other hand, the vehicle is poised and stable going around corners and the ride remains compliant over small ruts and bumps. Steering is accurate, if not all that communicative.

   The front-wheel biased AWD system sends power to the rear wheels only when needed. The system also features Snow, Mud/Sand, Dirt/Rock modes on top of Normal. It also has hill-descent control. Despite the more aggressive profile, the RAV4 will never be the vehicle of choice for the hard-core off-roaders. Like most of its ilk, however, it’ll do fine going over gravel roads to camping sites and cottages.

   Compared to this writer’s V6 RAV4, the new fifth-gen model gets much better official fuel mileage of 8.8 litres per 100 km in city and 6.7 litres on highway.

   Overall, the new RAV4 is bigger, roomier and more practical. It certainly seems to be better car than the one it replaces. Will it stay as the sales leader of its segment? I have a sneaky suspicion the answer would be yes. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)

 

2019 Toyota RAV4 Limited

Price: $40,690

As tested: $40,945

Engine: 2.5 litre 4

Power: 203 hp/184 lb-ft

Transmission: 8 spd auto

Drive: AWD

Fuel: 8.8 litres per 100km (city), 6.7 litres (highway)

Best: simple and elegant interior, fuel mileage

Worst: transmission clunky at times

Competition: Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape

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