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Entry price:  $25,650;  Price as tested: $31,074

This week, we’re reviewing the all-new fifth generation 2019 Toyota RAV4, delivered in XLE trim and one of six models available, five conventional and four Hybrids. The new RAV4 receives a complete redesign and is assembled on a modern front-drive platform. Lighter by some 225 pounds, the new RAV4 is actually longer in wheelbase by 1.2-inches resulting in a roomier interior, smoother ride and better performance overall thanks to its new, lightweight properties.

Sales have been spectacular, going from 56,709 its first year as a 1996 model to 427,170 units in 2018, which include 48,124 hybrids. Notable is a sales double in Canada, where in 2002, RAV4’s initial sales year, 20,522 units were sold compared to 55,385 in 2018.

The new 2019 features a more powerful 4-cylinder engine, better transmission and nice exterior/interior motifs that are easy on the eyes and appeal to consumers of all ages. Available in front-drive entry LE $25,650; XLE $27,450; XLE Premium $29,650, Adventure $33,050 and Limited $33,650, there’s a new RAV4 in there for most everyone. Best of all, and unlike other companies who do not make hybrids available on entry class models, Toyota continues to offer its hybrid trim even in the entry LE class, where $27,850 gets you going. The hybrid variants also include the XLE $29,650; XSE $38,350 and Limited $35,850 models.

Front drive is standard on all trims except the Adventure and all of the Hybrids. RAV4 uses an AWD. A Torque Vectoring All Wheel Drive unit with Rear Drive Disconnect comes on Standard and Limited trims, while the others are of the fully automatic variety.  

New for 2019 is more horsepower, where the last generation’s 176-horse 2.5-liter unit is replaced by a 203 horsepower inline-4 design. Torque moves up from a former 172 lb. ft. to 184 ponies, and transfers power through a new Direct Shift 8-speed automatic instead of last generation’s dated six-speed automatic. 

Even with more horsepower, this new combination improves fuel mileage from 23 city and 30 last year to a whopping move forward with 26 and 35, respectively. The AWD RAV4 improves from 22 and 28 to 25 and 33, again a major move up the EPA estimate ladder. The hybrids, meanwhile, are the MPG leaders with 41 city and 38 highway coupled to a CVT automatic instead of the 8-speed.

Why such a big improvement in fuel mileage? The 280 pound weight loss coupled with the 8-speed automatic play major roles.

All RAV4s are decent in the handling department, fun to drive and easy to park.

 The ride is smooth and extra quiet thanks to better insulation and three selectable drive modes of Sport, ECO and Normal. Our RAV4 XLE included standard features like five Smart Key, push button start, daytime running lamps, LED headlights and rear taillights, integrated fog lights, and power heated blind spot outside mirrors. Cabin notables include new dash layout with analog gauges, comfortable fabric seating and tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio controls. Further, the XLE also comes standard with a total of eight cup/bottle holders and to top things off a power tilt and slide moonroof.

A standard Entune 3.0 stereo system features a 7-inch touch screen, 6-speaker arrangement and lots of goodies. Included are three years of free Safety Connect, advanced voice recognition, AM/FM with Scout GPS link MP3/WMA playback, hands-free phone, music streaming via Bluetooth wireless, and WiFi Connect powered by Verizon. Our tester, however, added the Entune 3.0 Stereo Plus with Convenience Pack that adds SiriusXM satellite free for three months and an 8-inch display.  

All RAV4 models include Toyota Safety Sense and Toyota Star Safety systems that feature forward collision migration, rear camera, automatic high beams, lane departure with steer assist, adaptive cruise control and more.

 Thanks to these standard safety items, RAV4 delivers solid Five Star overall government crash ratings and an IHHS Top Safety nod. 

Helping achieve these excellent safety stats are four-wheel ABS disc brakes, stability control, hill start assist, traction control, electronic brakeforce distribution and Smart Stop technology with brake assist. 

Additionally, all XLE models come with 17-inch tires on nice five spoke alloy wheels, room for five, split and reclining fold flat back seat, all the powers, dual zone air conditioning, privacy glass, dual chrome exhaust tips and much more. Your dealer will explain the all-new RAV4 generation when you visit, including trims, options and major mechanical upgrades.

Speaking of options, our tester had only a few including the aforementioned and recommended Entune 3.0 Audio Plus SiriusXM that also brings with it a nice Convenience Package that adds heated front seats with 8-way power driver seat and a power liftgate with jam protection for $2,335 more. All weather floor mats added $169 and delivery of $1,120 brought the final retail to $31,074. 

Important RAV4 AWD numbers include a 3,380 lb. curb weight, 105.9 inch wheelbase, 8.4-inch ground clearance, 36.1 ft. turn circle, 14.5 gallon fuel tank, 1,500 lb. tow capacity and from 37.5 to 69.8 cu. ft. of cargo space.

In summary, those who buy one of these new 2019 RAV4s will receive special discount pricing and financing as the 2020s are starting to arrive. Check for all yearend Toyota discounts and incentives when you visit and either way, 2019 or 2020, you’ll park a new gen winner in your driveway. 

 

Likes: New generation, more power, better fuel mileage, reliability.

 

Dislikes: No Android compatibility, expensive option packages, nothing else worth noting.

 

Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist.