by: Mike Ginsca,
The Toyota Rav4 is completely redesigned for the 2019 model year. With a new generation comes a new design and new technology while still building upon the efficient and reliable crossover that it is known for.
Disclaimer: I did not get a lot of time with this vehicle so this is a short review. Hopefully a more detailed review will come at a later time.
The last generation Rav4 was also available with a hybrid powertrain but this 2019 Toyota Rav4 gets a slight boost in power. It now develops 219 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque from a 2.5L naturally aspirated gasoline engine with an electric motor that together drive the front wheels and another electric motor driving the rear wheels. While it is a good amount of power, it doesn’t give you the relentless electric acceleration that you feel in other hybrid vehicles. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a slow SUV. It just doesn’t feel that you’re moving as fast as the speedometer indicates.
While the Rav4 Hybrid is not a plug-in hybrid like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, it replenishes the batteries via regenerative braking or by the engine providing a charge. With the assistance of the electric motors, the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid can officially achieve 5.8 L/100km (40.5 mpg) in a city and 6.3 L/100km (37.3 mpg) on a highway. During my brief time with it, I managed exactly the official city fuel efficiency figure.
In terms of driving experience, the Rav4 Hybrid is just an average A to B type of crossover SUV. There isn’t much feel and feedback in the steering and while it does feel direct, you just don’t get any sense of the road when driving the Rav4. The tires don’t provide much outright grip for any sort of spirited driving but thanks to the electric motor in the rear axle, the Rav4 Hybrid is actually an AWD SUV. So you can do a bit of mild off-roading and there is also a Trail drive mode which should help shuffle the power around between the front and rear wheels should you get stuck.
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The 2019 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid has a good amount of interior space for both front and rear occupants. The seats are supportive and provide plenty of comfort over long drives or just daily commutes in and around a city. The suspension also adds to the comfort by absorbing potholes without translating the shock into the cabin.
Unfortunately what does intrude into the cabin is engine noise. It’s not all the time but when accelerating from a stop or overtaking a vehicle on a highway, the CVT transmission raises the engine’s rpms and holds them there. This makes for the dreaded engine droning noise that nearly every driver and passenger hates. But if you’re very gentle, and slow from a stop, you can drive the Rav4 on electricity alone until you get up to speed. At which point the gasoline engine will take over but it will be at more reasonable rpms as to keep the noise and fuel economy down.
Odds and Ends
Regardless of which trim of the Rav4 Hybrid you choose, it comes standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0. What that means is that you get emergency automatic braking, blind spot sensors, lane departure warning with steering assist and adaptive cruise control. You also get heated seats, backup camera, LED headlights and dual zone automatic climate control as standard. Not a badly equipped hybrid SUV that starts at $32,000 CAD. One thing that you won’t get if you’re an Android user is Android Auto. Apple CarPlay is available but other phone users will have to rely on just bluetooth pairing and Toyota’s infotainment apps, which by the way look dated. The infotainment system is easy to use and responsive but the graphics look like they’re 10 years old.
The look and feel of the interior is a bit of a mixed bag of worms. The design of the interior dash and center console looks good and easy to use. But the materials are bland, hard plastics that lack the quality of other competitors like the Mazda CX-5 or Honda CR-V.
The exterior design is quite a bit more chunky and off-road looking compared to previous generations of the Rav4. I am personally not a big fan of this type of look on compact SUVs but I’ll admit that it does make the Rav4 stand out in a very crowded SUV market.
In all the new 2019 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid is a good compact crossover SUV. Sure it has some shortfalls like the lack of Android Auto support, questionable interior materials, and the droning engine sounds at higher rpms. But despite that, it is very fuel efficient, it provides a comfortable ride, and is one of the least expensive hybrids on the market.
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Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.