If anyone doubts the dominance of SUVs in 2018, we suggest taking a quick look at Toyota sales. In 2017, RAV4 sales surpassed the Camry midsize sedan for the first time ever. Meanwhile, only the Big Three’s pickup trucks sold better.
In other words, outside of full-size trucks, the RAV4 is the most popular vehicle in America. So when Toyota unveiled a completely redesigned model at the New York Auto Show in late March, we figured it deserved our undivided attention.
Here are 10 things to know about all-new 2019 Toyota RAV4, which will hit dealerships in 2018.
1. The new RAV4 will run on the Camry platform.
While this might be a technical detail to many consumers, RAV4’s move from the Prius-Corolla platform to Camry-Avalon architecture means several changes. One upgrade is the slight bump in ground clearance. Another is a 57% increase in rigidity.
Meanwhile, with the wheels now stretched closer to the four corners, 19-inch wheels become an option. Anyone concerned about the change need only look at Camry’s superb reliability record in reliability over the past decade. It’s performed even better than RAV4, which was already one of the most rock-solid vehicles on the U.S. market.
Next: The new platform also means more room inside.
2. It’s more spacious without an increase in length.
Other benefits of the new platform include a 1.2-inch increase in wheelbase and 0.4-inch increase in width. That will make the ride more comfortable, especially for backseat passengers.
However, this improved interior space did not result in a longer vehicle. The 2019 RAV4 actually shed 0.2 inches of length, making it just as easy to park.
Next: Camry architecture allowed for a tougher, more attractive RAV4.
3. The new model is better looking — in every trim.
For all the success of the outgoing RAV4 generation, the crossover was not among the best-looking models on the market. Things will be different with the 2019 edition.
The changes in proportion allowed designers to craft a more muscular vehicle with a wider stance. Meanwhile, the new front ends (especially the grilles) on all three trims looks much better, as does the profile.
The new RAV4 may have Camry underpinnings but it’s definitely a more handsome machine. Hybrid and Adventure trims stand out the most.
Next: Consumers will get more power and quicker acceleration.
4. Every model will be quicker and more powerful.
In the red-hot compact SUV segment, any model that doesn’t improve risks falling off its perch. (Indeed, Nissan Rogue threatens to unseat RAV4 as top-selling passenger vehicle during this changeover.)
Toyota will look to maintain its momentum by equipping the RAV4 with more power and better acceleration than current models. In all-wheel-drive (AWD) variants, new technology will improve MPG. Precise horsepower and performance times will arrive closer to the launch date.
Next: You won’t be confused deciding on an engine.
5. Only two engine options
As with the 2018 RAV4, the redesigned model will get one engine option (2.5 liters, four-cylinders) for gas versions and a second with the same displacement for hybrids. All five gas trims get an 8-speed automatic transmission, while hybrid models will get an electronically controlled, continuously variable transmission (ECVT).
Next: Off-road adventures get a major boost from a new Toyota AWD system.
6. How the new AWD system works
In a first for the automaker, Toyota will equip the Adventure and Limited AWD models with a system called Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive with Rear Driveline Disconnect. When rear wheels are getting traction but front wheels aren’t, this system will send half the available torque there to power the vehicle through.
Back on the highway, when all wheels are running smoothly, the system will ease up on the rear-wheel torque to maintain solid fuel economy.
Next: If sportiness is a priority, go with the hybrid.
7. Hybrid RAV4s will be the quickest.
When you think of Toyota hybrids, you usually think of the exquisite fuel economy of the latest Prius (as everyone should). However, Toyota will leverage the accelerating power of EV technology in the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid.
According to Toyota, the XSE Hybrid will have more horsepower and a sport-tuned suspension, making it the top-handling RAV4 of the coming generation. Meanwhile, it will maintain its edge in fuel efficiency.
Next: Toyota couldn’t slack on safety in its most popular vehicle.
8. No slack in the safety department
In recent years, Toyota has clearly aimed its sights at consumers who turned to Subaru for superior safety technology. That’s where the standard Safety Sense comes into play, and the new RAV4 will feature the suite’s second generation.
A pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane departure with steering assist, auto high beams, lane-tracing assist, and road-sign assist all come in every model. With the last feature, your RAV4 will try to read a stop sign and speed limit before you have the chance.
Next: The tech push continues in the 2019 edition.
9. Standard WiFi and other tech
There is no stopping the tech push the auto industry has spirited in recent years. In the 2019 RAV4, it will be even more pronounced with standard in-vehicle WiFi, hands-free Amazon Alexa, and Apple CarPlay. (Android Auto will likely follow in the future).
A standard Entune 3.0 audio system will feature a 7-inch screen on top of the center stack.
Next: Though hybrids won’t arrive until 2019, standard RAV4 buyers can get behind the wheel in late 2018.
10. It arrives at the end of 2018.
Toyota promises this new model will arrive in dealerships by “winter at the end of 2018,” so you can plan to buy yourself one as a Christmas present (if you do such things). Hybrids will follow in the first quarter of 2019.
From what we can tell, there’s no reason the all-new model can’t continue its run atop the sale charts.