2019 Toyota RAV4 Review - Half a Million Buyers Can't Be Wrong
2019 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD
Well, maybe the crowd can’t always be trusted. Over the last two hundred-plus years, there have been more than a few instances where our plurality voting system has yielded suboptimal victors in statewide and nationwide elections alike.
I’ve promised before that I’d stay away from politics here, so I’m not getting any more specific than that. I’m sure I’d piss off someone who doesn’t feel like hearing my thoughts on Franklin Pierce.
Anyhow, in 2019 Toyota pushed nearly half a million of these compact crossovers out the doors, making the 2019 Toyota RAV4 the fourth best-selling passenger vehicle in America — and if you exclude half-ton pickups from each of the Detroit Three, the best selling vehicle, period. But why?
While your author would love it should practical minivans once again become available from every mainstream automaker and start stealing the sales crown from the scourge of crossovers, that’s nearly as likely as a return to carburetors for induction. This is our reality for the foreseeable future, I’m afraid crossovers are king.
Arguably, Toyota was the pioneer in this category with the first-generation RAV4. This newest fifth-generation has taken some styling cues from more butch members of the extended Toyota family, with angles and creases across every surface to distinguish this car from prior models. I wouldn’t call it pretty, but the newest RAV4 at least isn’t as boring-looking as some of the competition.
[Get Toyota RAV4 pricing here!]
One styling note — I typically despise overly large wheels, as they often degrade ride quality while increasing road noise. I was pleasantly surprised with the 19-inch alloys fitted to this Limited-trim tester, as they didn’t seem to affect either the ride or noise. And they look quite fetching, too. Maybe it’s silly, but I do think they make the car look that much better. I don’t look forward to replacing 19-inch tires, however.
For the most part, the driving experience of the RAV4 is excellent. Steering is nicely weighted, and harsh pavement imperfections are dispatched with little noise or cabin disruption. Wind noise is hushed. My only complaint comes from the 2.5-liter engine, which gets surprisingly thrashy as the tachometer swings north. In most driving, the engine is quiet enough, but when passing or pulling onto the interstate, it’s best to pause your conversations for a moment.
Otherwise, living with the RAV4 is as pleasant as can be. The interior is spacious — wedging a random third kid between my too-tall tweens was a simple affair that didn’t lead to tears. While I’d personally prefer a slightly longer lower cushion on the heated front seats, most will find them plenty comfortable. Primary HVAC controls are handled intuitively by two large, easy-to-grip knobs, and the touchscreen, while of the hated iPad-glued-to-dash variety, was more responsive than some I’ve sampled in prior-year Toyota models.
I love the two-tier dashboard, revealing a small tray both left of the steering wheel and above the glove compartment. It’s just enough space to hold the passenger’s cell phone (mine will be in the optional wireless charging tray ahead of the shifter) and a pair of sunglasses, but not too large to gather too much assorted crap like the extra napkins my wife likes to hoard in the glovebox.
The RAV4 is now fitted standard with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of safety features – TSS 2.0 for short – which offers pedestrian detection with pre-collision warnings, full-speed active cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, and automatic high beams. The full-speed active cruise is a godsend for stop-and-go traffic; just a tap of the cruise button or the throttle pedal when stationary, and the RAV4 will begin moving forward as traffic allows.
I’ll admit one thing: though I’ve logged countless hundreds of thousands of miles behind the wheel over the years, I’ll occasionally struggle with one simple task – parking. Blame a decade of driving a two-seat roadster or something, but occasionally I’ll be flummoxed by a narrow parking spot at the supermarket. It seems I always park just a touch too close on the passenger side, causing my bride to squeeze out of her door. Other times, I brush the sidewall of a tire against a curb. With nineteen-inch polished wheels like those fitted to this RAV4, a curb can prove seriously hazardous. The Advanced Technology package fitted to my tester includes my favorite feature on any car: a birds-eye view camera for parking. Press a button at low speeds, and I can quickly gauge how close I am to disaster – or an argument with my bride.
The price of my tester ain’t cheap, at a hair under forty thousand US dollars delivered. One could even get into some entry-level luxury crossovers for a similar figure. But it’s hard to beat the Toyota RAV4 for features, value, and comfort – which is the same calculation hundreds of thousands of buyers make every year.
[Images: © 2020 Chris Tonn/TTAC]
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