By on March 13, 2018

Toyota is updating the insanely popular RAV4 for the 2019 model year, which means it may be able to leave the shadow of the much newer Honda CR-V. That’s not a knock against Toyota, as the company offers a serviceable compact crossover that people seem to really love. In fact, the brand sold 407,594 RAV4s in the United States last year while Honda only moved 377,895 CR-Vs.

But the high-volume RAV4 is getting on in years. When Honda introduced the updated CR-V, the Toyota was already five years old and beginning to look a little dated. Fortunately, a fifth-generation model is being readied for the 2018 New York Auto Show. Toyota even issued a shadowy teaser image to whet our appetites.

While the shape doesn’t appear to be radically different from the current crossover, it’s much more SUV-like overall. Toyota is definitely moving the model’s styling in a new direction. Sadly, the backlit image obscures much of the vehicle’s finer features — making a detailed assessment next to impossible. Fortunately, we’ve utilized high-end photo manipulation software to boost the brightness and give you a better look at the upcoming RAV4. 

Whoops. It would appear Toyota’s media department employed some photo trickery of its own by blocking out everything but the top edge of the crossover’s silhouette. As a result, all we’ve managed to achieve is a depiction of how the new RAV4 might look in the opening microseconds of an atomic blast. It seems as if the car companies have caught on to our digital tricks.

That’s okay. We already have camouflage-clad spy shots of the fifth-generation crossover, which prove Toyota’s FT-AC Concept has had a major influence on the car. The new RAV4 should have a blunted face, imposing grille, sharper angles, fewer curves, and squared-off wheel arches. It will also swap to Toyota’s New Global Architecture — a platform already used by the Camry, Prius, CH-R, and (eventually) nearly every high-volume compact-to-midsize vehicle in the brand’s lineup.

Will the aggressive new styling decisions turn off prospective RAV4 customers? We highly doubt it. However, even if it does, those opposed will undoubtedly be treated to bargain prices on the outgoing version after the 2019 model year makes its debut in New York at the end of the month.

Image: Brian Williams/SpiedBilde

Image: Brian Williams/SpiedBilde

[Images: Toyota; Brian Williams/Spiedbilde]

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46 Comments on “Toyota Teases the 2019 RAV4’s Manlier Silhouette...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I never had an issue with the styling, but can it be less tinny and cheap-feeling than the current model? Seriously; I’d buy just about anything else in the segment first.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Yep, this. We looked at a RAV4 Hybrid Limited when we went through the process that resulted in our C-Max lease. My wife liked the driving experience fine, but we were both turned off beyond recovery by the utterly cheap feeling in the interior. (And we drove our 2013 Forester by Fisher-Price to the dealership, so you know it was bad!)

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      Is the current one worse than the CRV I rented for two hours last week to pick up piece of furniture? That car was one miserable cave of black plastic and fabric. And drove like it.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Funny, CR-V’s are rarely if ever rentals and it’s about the only model sold in the US that eschews incentives. Taking out rental and fleet sales, the CR-V outsells the RAV4.

        Every review I’ve read is contrary to your story. In fact, the CR-V wins just about every comparison and is considered best in class.

        • 0 avatar
          spookiness

          My rental was a Zipcar. Lots of them in the Wash DC region are CRV. I wanted a Transit Connect, but apparently they don’t have them in the fleet anymore. If CRV is cream of the compact CUV crop, then I definitely don’t see a CUV in my future.

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          In October 2017, when, you know, last years model are supposed to blown out “to make room for the new ones” we visited our local Honda dealer and test drove a 2017 CR-V, came back to make a deal. The deal, as the salesman presented it, was all they had available were 2017s, he couldn’t tell us when the 2018s would be arriving, he wouldn’t discount one dime off the suggested retail price(for last years model), was going to add a mandatory $400 ‘document fee’ and mandatory aftermarket upholstery ‘sealer\'(not even Scotchgard) for $199. When questioned to make sure that was his best offer, he didn’t waiver. So, we visited Toyota next door, picked out a RAV4 XLE, drove it, sat down with the salesman, priced out the 2018 we just drove, were offered a $2000 discount from MSRP, no document fee, no mandatory upholstery sealer, went to the bank for a check, and an hour later was driving our new RAV4 home. I hope nobody else had the same experience shopping for a new CR-V as we were put through at clearance time. And this after working in both Honda and Acura dealers almost exclusively since the 1980s.

          • 0 avatar
            Carrera

            CRVs are selling like hot cakes in my region. Rav 4s as well, but mostly to rental companies. Previous CRV felt very cheap inside…almost like my 2001 CRV. The current generation is much nicer I have to admit. The RAV4 looks and feels inside like a late 90s Kia.

          • 0 avatar
            Krivka

            In October I bought a 2017 CR-V wihout haggling for $1700.00 off MSRP with trailer hitch and roof rails included. The 2018’s were not out yet, but I don’t plan on selling it, so no problem.

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Gazis

          thornmark

          Honda doesn’t sell vehicles directly to rental fleets. The rental companies do buy Hondas through dealerships accounting for 2% of Hondas total sales. Far below the industry average of 10%, but its still something.

        • 0 avatar
          starskeptic

          Even the numbers in the story only show the CR-V at selling 7% less than the RAV4 – obviously a colossal Honda failure!

  • avatar
    Middcore

    Good God. I remember the original RAV4 was (rather too preciously) referred to by some as a “sport-cute” and I heard RAV4 drivers mocking owners of the era’s Canyonero-esque behemoths. Now this damn thing is basically the same size as my dad’s mid-00’s Ford Explorer. Meanwhile the niche the RAV4 once occupied has been taken over by nonsensical baby crossovers like the Ford EcoSport, which is a Fiesta with double the ride height and half the gas mileage.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “As a result, all we’ve managed to achieve is a depiction of how the new RAV4 might look in opening microseconds of an atomic blast.”

    Ha! As long as Toyota continues with its Predator-esque styling, that’s where it belongs, too.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Jeebus. Look at me! I am a truck despite the fact I am not and never will be! I have to appear manly because human masculinity offends the Party and you stupid humans crave it!

    Lies, lies, lies, everywhere to the world and to ourselves.

    The world wants to be deceived.

    This about sums up the past seventy to one hundred years.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      I remember the first gen CRVs came (optional?) with column shifters to mimic the “truck” image of the truck based SUVs.

      Didn’t fool anybody, and it did ride terribly.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        When Toyota finally has a press conference to introduce this sucker and touts its “MORE MASCULINE SILHOUETTE” – all I’ll be able to hear in my head is:

        “I’m A Lumberjack and I Don’t Care”

        along with

        “We are Men in Tights”

        Nothing against RAV4 drivers, it just says terrible things about human psychology that they felt they had to butch it up. That’s the same thinking that lead us to truck nosed minivans over at GM.

      • 0 avatar
        Prado

        Not sure where you got that from. All automatics were column shift. The first gen CRV was designed without any consideration of the US market, as the dealers were not interested in the overall concept. It wasn’t until the dealers saw the final product, that they changed their tune and wanted it. No pretense of manliness in the first gen CRV at all.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “(optional?) with column shifters to mimic the “truck” image of the truck based SUVs.”

        Nothing to do with mimicry, everything to do with efficient packaging and to allow a pass-through to the second row. A very airy and ergonomic cockpit indeed. Look at any number of JDM microvans and they have similar column and dash mounted shifters. My departed ’03 Pilot likewise was column shift, something I enjoyed immensely. It had a massive flat space on the low center console that you could put a box of leftovers or even an entire bag of groceries on.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    ” they felt they had to butch it up”

    Probably because these RAV4s are much in demand and they’re way overdue for a refresh.

    My suggestion to them, based on this popularity, is to make more colors available. Especially colors that women are attracted to, like Gold, Light Green, Ivory, and even Pink.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      This defeats the purpose of butching it up, it was already a purse on wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        “This defeats the purpose of butching it up, it was already a purse on wheels.”

        And yet, if you ask the buyers, they’ll tell you they’re buying the RAV4 (or CRV or…) because “I’d never own a minivan”.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Yep, lots of people buying 5 passenger compact 4 cylinder CUVs when they really need a 7 passenger jumbo-sized V-6 minivan. Idiots.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Depends on mission and family size. A family of two children 1-5 and regular in laws visits would be better served by a “mini” van. Once they get out of the giant car seats they can sit in the jump seats of the “seven passenger” five passenger rides when gram and gramp take a ride with them. A sizeable percentage of potential buyers do themselves a disservice vs what is in their best interests, or dare I say, what is logical. Ah, but expanding stupid is part of progress it seems.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            There’s that whole thing (stigma) about being seen driving a minivan.

            But what piques my interest is why anyone would buy a 2WD version of these mini utes, RAV4 or CR-V, or even a 2WD version of a Highlander, Grand Cherokee or Tahoe.

            If someone opts for the “utility” aspect of such a vehicle, 4WD is a must IMO.

            I’m a proponent of AWD and 4WD because I like sure-footed traction, and more automakers are beginning to see that too, with Subaru leading the way.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Looks like they’ve ruined the approach angle, which was really the only “butch” aspect of the outgoing model.

    You want manly? Put the 2GR-FE V6 back in there and let it sprint up the onramp ahead of the Explorers and Grand Cherokees. Here we are 10 years later and all they need to do is put a nicer interior in a 2007.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      +1 30 mile, yet again we’re on the same page. The previous Rav, for all its faults, at least retained a modicum of geometric clearance and the unpainted panels for good scratch resistance, as well as the manually selectable viscouc coupling lock. This one is fully embracing the long snout look as seen previously on the Mazda CUVs, some Infinitis, and latest gen Lexus RXs. Looks like the Forester (and several Jeep entries) might be the last “true” cute-utes standing.

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        The problem with the V6 was that it was a bit pricy and encroaching into Highlander territory. Also wasn’t a big seller. I had friends that had one. Bought it new but was’t too happy with it. After about 6-7 years it was falling apart due to Canadian winter. May be it was built on a Monday, I don’t know. It had enough problems and small issues that he was soured on anything Toyota. Enough that when he traded it for a midsize truck he never consIdered the Tacoma. Got a Colorado instead.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Personally I got a kick out of the fact that after Toyota cancelled its sports cars the V6 RAV4 was the fastest Toyota through the 1/4 mile. That always made me chuckle.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            Yes, but it made the compromised handling of an already front end heavy design even worse. It could drag race, but that was hardly the target demographic. And because of its lower gearing, the V6 Grand Vitara of the same model years was faster to 40mph than the V6 Rav4.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            lol you always bring up the GV any time the V6 Rav4 gets brought up, it’s absolutely Pavlovian and fascinating to me. They were quite mediocre rigs but now that they’re gone I miss the last of the Suzuki SUVs, Unibody and IRS and all.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            “bring up the GV any time the V6 Rav4 gets brought up, it’s absolutely Pavlovian and fascinating to me. They were quite mediocre rigs but now that they’re gone I miss the last of the Suzuki SUVs, Unibody and IRS and all.”

            The last generation Grand Vitara were not mediocre if you needed a small suv with offroad capability, surefootedness in bad conditions and appreciated reliability. They still look good also. I know 4 people who have them.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Once they lost the 2 speed transfer case after the first few years (available only on Limiteds after that iirc) I completely lost interest. Middling MPG within spitting distance of a 4runner in V6 guise but with a lot less room and capability and comfort. Thirstier than CUV competitors. It was an odd middle ground. Like I said, now that they’re gone I miss having that oddball option, but they just didn’t make a strong value sell or use case for most people. My understanding of this gen of GV is that reliability is not bad, but not great either. V6s had their issues and a smattering of smaller things. I subscribe to a youtube channel for a shop in Moscow that specializes in Suzukis (Grand Vitaras mostly) and various Toyotas, their various shortcomings are discussed in detail.

  • avatar
    carve

    About time- the current model doesn’t hold a candle to the latest CR-V. I miss the previous gen though. Nothing came close to the power of the V-6, and having the spare outside led to near minivan levels of cargo space. That, with a nicer interior and the latest electronics would be great. I’d be equally happy if they had a turbo-4 with at least 245 hp.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    I seem to remember a Toyota SUV that had a butch and macho image, that was on a similar footprint as the Rav4. Hell, it even had ruggedness and capability to back up the image. But much like pretty much ANYTHIHG that was interesting and said ‘Toyota’ on it, it was allowed to wither and die on the vine. FJ Cruiser, Supra, Celica, 1st gen xB…see the pattern?

    Trying to ‘butch up’ a Rav4 is as preposterous as trying to butch up the image of Kotex to appeal to more men.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Ironically I think you’ve nailed it with your last point. They’ve got the women already now they have to convince you too this notatruck is win.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I just rented a ’18 RAV4 XLE for a week over a Chevy Malibu just to see what all the CUV fuss is about and maybe to see if I’m being too hard on these vehicles, which I generally dislike.

    I still generally dislike. Relatively unimpressed with the driving dynamics. It felt slow and weighted down, and less buttoned down on the road compared to my ’15 Accord Sport.

    Worse, it got 4-5 fewer MPG than my Accord in the same driving loop, even though both vehicles have similarly sized 4-cylinder engines – though the Accord makes 13 more HP on .1 less liter of displacement. If I drove 15,000 miles per year, that’s about 105-125 gallons of additional fuel per year. Maybe that’s not huge to a person who has the money to buy one of these but spread that out over all the CUVs in the country and that’s a lot of excess fuel we are using, for very little reason.

    Even the “convenience” factor was marginal because you have to lift that huge tailgate to get into the rear cargo area, whereas you just pop the trunk in the Accord. An Accord’s trunk doesn’t hold as much as a RAV with the seats down but it holds enough.

    I think a CUV would be nice to have in some circumstances. I just didn’t encounter any of those during the week I had the vehicle. I don’t think it’d be worth the trade off, IMO.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I don’t like these new RAV4s.

    I liked the original short wheelbase RAV4s. They looked like something you could easily take on the beach and not worry.

    Then Toyota introduced the longer wheelbase four door RAV4 and I thought they had ruined it.

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    So overdue for the new one. Test drove a 2017 XLE Hybrid. Without me even saying a word the salesman took $4,000 off of the $36,800 sticker price. I liked the exterior looks well enough but the interior was awful and the driving experience miserable. Maybe driving the non hybrid would have been better.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      I had the 2.5 has version. It felt thrashy and underpowered compared to my Accord’s 2.4 liter, though that could be a function of greater mass, higher center of gravity, and automatic trans (My Accord is a manual). I wouldn’t go so far as to say miserable but definitely underwhelming compared to what I’m used to.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        One kudo I’ll give to the RAV4 is its Bluetooth system. The Toyota voice activation worked like a charm, getting it right every time, and only requiring 1 button push to initiate. The Honda system? Me: Call Mom. Honda: Calling, Mike Strom. Me: @#$%!

        You can also scroll through your numbers on the eye level screen while driving, whereas Honda blocks you from doing this for “safety” reasons. I guess they think it’s safer for the driver to grab his phone and take his eyes off the road getting his contacts up and scrolling through them on the phone itself? As long as they’re not responsible I guess!

        Toyota is light years ahead of Honda on this, and I suspect most buyers of a CUV will consider that more important than acceleration, braking, handling and fuel economy.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    C R O S S O V E R

    wow sloped back window

    oh my god super front overhang

    hey popular

  • avatar
    smapdi

    …I just want the FT4X….
    give me a compact boxy crossover with some solid ground clearance, decent approach angles, and AWD or 4WD…. give me my Sidekicks and Trackers back with some modern refinements. The closest that fits what I want right now is the new Compass but I can’t convince myself to buy a Jeep that will likely plummet in resale value. If Ford brings out the early Bronco concept that would work too… but I fear it will just look like (and be the size of) an Escape or Edge.

  • avatar

    Looks like that profile now matches closely with the F-Pace.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB

    If Toyota sends out teasers they should send appropriate ones to different audiences. A site like TTAC is populated by people who like cars, who like to drive and who take pride in all things automotive. Sites like TTAC should be provided with undisguised shots of the back end so that readers can get used to staring at it endlessly as it lopes along in the left lane straddling traffic at the same speed in the right lane. Maybe even a GIF with the left signal light flashing would be nice.

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