For Toyota’s 2019 redesign of the RAV4, the company could be forgiven for playing it safe and releasing just a mild update. It did anything but.
The RAV4 was the best-selling vehicle of any kind that wasn’t a full-size pickup in the U.S. last year, with more than 400,000 people taking one home last year. With shoppers making it clear that they prefer crossovers over sedans, this is a title Toyota is keen to protect.
But rather than a tepid redo for 2019, Toyota instead gave the RAV4 a thorough makeover, one which it revealed Wednesday at the 2018 New York Auto Show. The 2019 RAV4 will go on sale at the end of the year.
The RAV4 competes in one of the most popular segments in the industry: compact crossovers. Thus, its competition is fierce, including the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester (a new version of which was also revealed at the New York show), Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape and the Mazda CX-5.
In order to differentiate the new RAV4 from this pack, Toyota discarded the sleeker, more urban design on earlier RAV4 models in favor of a handsome, rugged crossover with a chiseled look all around. It’s a bit wider and lower than the outgoing model, though Toyota says there’s more legroom for rear passengers.
Underneath the RAV4’s new hood is one of two familiar powertrains.
The base model will have a 2.5-liter, inline four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
In early 2019, Toyota will put on sale the RAV4 Hybrid. It’s powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and an electric motor.
Power figures for both versions will be released later this year, though they’re not expected to change that much from the current RAV4’s output: 176 horsepower on the gas model and 194 horsepower on the hybrid.
All-wheel drive will be optional on both the RAV4 and Hybrid models, with the higher-end trim levels getting a fancy new AWD system that Toyota claims is more effective when engaged and smoother and more efficient when it isn’t.
Toyota will also add a new trim line for the RAV4 Hybrid lineup -- the XSE Hybrid. This version is aimed at giving hybrid buyers a sportier option -- one that has a retuned suspension and interior and exterior design tweaks.
Toyota also loaded up the top-of-the-line Limited model with a variety of goodies, including alloy wheels, a moonroof and a digital rear-view mirror, plus options like ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and a panoramic moonroof.
All 2019 RAV4 models will get Apple CarPlay and Am connectivity, a seven or eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, pre-collision alert and braking, radar-based cruise control and lane-departure warning and steering assist.
As mentioned, the gas 2019 RAV4 hits dealerships late this year, while the hybrid model will be available in early 2019. Pricing will be announced closer to their on-sale date.