One of the most popular SUVs in one of the most popular classes of vehicles today, the Toyota RAV4 got a much-needed redesign for 2019 that addressed some of the compact SUV’s weaknesses — but not all of them. Cars.com reviewer Jennifer Geiger found plenty to like in the new RAV4, along with a few things shoppers may want to consider before driving one off the lot.
For further pre-dealership-visit research, get pricing details, specs and dealer offers on our model page linked above. In the meantime, below are five things we liked — and five things we thought were … not great — that could make or break the RAV4 for would-be buyers.
What We Like
1. How the Hybrid Version Drives
The hybrid version of the RAV4 is actually more powerful than the gas-only version (219 horsepower versus 203 hp), and it’s the more pleasing of the two to drive. It effectively uses the electric motor to aid off-the-line acceleration, giving the RAV4 Hybrid a peppier feel.
2. Improved Interior Materials
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is also a big step up inside. The outgoing model had a cabin with a “bland look and budget materials” according to Geiger, but she found the new one to be an improvement in both design and appointments.
3. Fuel Economy
Both the gas and hybrid versions see major improvements in gas mileage over the 2018 models. Both front- and all-wheel-drive models of the gas RAV4 are estimated at 29 mpg combined — easily besting the 25 mpg combined for the 2018 FWD model. For the RAV4 Hybrid, it’s an even bigger leap: a 39 mpg combined rating, which blows away last year’s 32 mpg combined figure.
4. Technology Update
The multimedia system gets a big boost in connectivity features with the addition of Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration, both running through the tablet-style screen mounted high on the dash. The RAV4 also features as many as five USB ports, along with a wireless charging pad, to keep all of your devices topped off.
5. Safety Features
Like many of Toyota’s vehicles, the 2019 RAV4 has a formidable list of standard safety equipment, coming with Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 system standard. That includes forward collision warning system with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beams, road sign assist and lane keep assist.
What We Don’t
1. How the Gas Version Drives
As good as the hybrid is to drive, the gas version flips in the other direction. The four-cylinder engine’s 203 hp is nothing to sneeze at, but a balky transmission and a lack of immediate acceleration make it feel overly tame. Stack on some less-than-ideal ride characteristics and the RAV4 still has some work to do in the drivability department.
2. Cabin Noise
Noise from the tires, the wind and the engine are intrusive — especially at highway speeds. Though the interior has taken a step up in premium feel, the level of auditory annoyance undermines that progress.
3. Smaller Cargo Area
The RAV4 added some backseat legroom, but gas versions actually have less cargo room than before behind the rear seat, at 37.6 cubic feet. That’s about 1 cubic foot less than the old model and, perhaps more importantly, substantially less than competitors like the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue. The hybrid outdoes its gas counterpart once again in this area, actually gaining cargo room; a smaller battery pack means it now has the same room in the wayback as the gas version.
4. No Android Auto
Astute readers may have noticed something missing from our technology list above: Android Auto. Perhaps I take this more personally as an Android user, but with most competitors offering this technology in their vehicles, it’s time for Toyota to step up and join the party.
5. Price Increase
All of that new equipment and those upgrades ain’t free. Prices start at $26,545, including destination charges; that’s an $840 markup over the outgoing model. It’s also $1,200 more than the CR-V and $700 more than the Rogue. If there’s a value to be found in the RAV4, it’s (once again) the hybrid, with the fuel-sipping powertrain only representing an $800 markup over gas versions.
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