By on April 14, 2020

2019 Toyota RAV4 HybridWhen I first drove the newest generation of Toyota’s popular RAV4, I was lukewarm on the hybrid model. I liked the previous-gen hybrid better. At the time, I wrote that the best new RAV4, in this reviewer’s opinion, is the Adventure trim.

I stand by that statement, but I also think, upon further reflection, that I was a bit too harsh on the hybrid.

A week’s worth of time with a vehicle will do that. Sometimes week-long loans expose flaws that aren’t apparent in the stage-managed environs of a press junket, and sometimes it’s the other way around.

This is an example of the latter.

(Read More…)

By on January 23, 2020

2019 Toyota RAV4 front quarter

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?

(Read More…)

By on November 21, 2018

2019 Toyota RAV4

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 wouldn’t, at first glance, be my first choice for a run down famed California Highway 1 from just south of Monterey to the famed Bixby Bridge and back.

It probably wouldn’t be yours, either.

So I was pleasantly surprised when a mid-morning coastal ride in the RAV4’s Adventure trim showed me something I’d not seen from a RAV4 before — a personality. Not to mention on-road manners that were quite good by crossover standards. I already had the review written in my mind before I even swapped seats with my drive partner. Before long, however, I was reminded that snap judgments are often wrong.

(Read More…)

By on April 2, 2018

The RAV4 has quickly become Toyota’s most important vehicle. While the Corolla still trumps it in overall global volume, the small crossover has made a ridiculous amount of headway over the past decade. Prior to the recession, domestic sales of the RAV4 just barely surpassed 70,000 units per year. Then, after the introduction of the model’s third generation in 2006, volume suddenly doubled — progressing to 2017’s all-time high of 407,594 deliveries.

Still, Toyota thinks it can further broaden the model’s appeal. It wants to see more men behind the wheel of the redesigned 2019 model that debuted at the New York International Auto Show last week. The recipe involves a more butch design, added power, an upgraded all-wheel drive system, and new trim levels giving a nod to sporting aspirations. Meanwhile, an updated interior provides more space for manspreading and big rubbery knobs some gentleman find totally irresistible.  (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2018

While the fourth generation of Toyota’s RAV4 contained a touch of menace, the model has always been an easygoing compact utility vehicle. When it hit North America in 1995, it didn’t have a lot of competition. General Motors’ collaboration with Suzuki resulted in a bevy of micro SUVs that weren’t spacious or comfortable enough to compete with Toyota’s compact crossover. Likewise, a lot of consumers found it made more sense to purchase something that was more capable on pavement than off-road, and the Corolla-based ute definitely fit the bill.

Two decades later and the RAV4 now has more than its fair share of competition, yet remains totally relevant. In fact, it spent most of 2017 beating the snot out of the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue to retake its place as America’s best-selling small SUV — a miraculous feat considering the current generation has been around since 2012.

While Toyota could probably keep selling them unchanged at ludicrously high volumes for another two years, the time has come for a redesign. The automaker absolutely has to hit a home run; the RAV4 is Camry levels of important at this point. It may not have the sedan’s history, but it has the numbers — and with the crossover craze stronger than ever, it absolutely has to be a unmitigated success.  (Read More…)

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.  (Read More…)

By on January 25, 2018

Image: Brian Williams/SpiedBilde

Profitable as home water delivery in the desert, Toyota’s RAV4 compact crossover performs an increasingly important function in the division’s lineup. As passenger car sales fall, vehicles like the RAV4 compete in the most lucrative and hotly contested segment in the auto industry. Some 407,594 Americans took home a RAV4 last year. Five years earlier, that sales figure stood at 171,877.

Given the model’s impact on the company’s fortunes, messing with a good thing could be risky, just as standing still could lead to a drop-off in consumer interest. For the next-generation RAV4, due as a 2019 model, Toyota’s not playing it safe. The model pictured here goes in a styling direction we’ve seen before, though not on a production model. (Read More…)

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