First drive: 2019 Toyota RAV4 review 

Moving Well | Greg Hill | Posted on 22 May 2019

Greg Hill takes the 2019 Toyota RAV4 for a first drive.  


First impressions:

The all-new RAV4 takes a leap in style and ability, with six new hybrid options strengthening its green credentials and improving driveability.

 

Toyota RAV4 is a thoroughbred in the highly competitive medium-SUV class. Its bloodline in Australia began back in 1994 and now moves into a fifth generation with an impressive all-new vehicle. 

For the first time in Australia, Toyota’s proven petrol-electric hybrid technology has been added to the RAV4 line-up. Eleven variants showcase Toyota’s sophisticated drivelines and safety features in a stylish body that has a distinctive, robust SUV appearance.

This release is an interesting model mix, with four equipment grades and the option of six hybrid variants in front-wheel-drive (FWD) and electric all-wheel-drive (AWD) form. 

A collection of four new Toyota RAV4 2019 models parked near a body of water at sunset

 The distinctively styled new RAV4 has 11 variants, including six hybrid options. Toyota expects at least 40 per cent of buyers to opt for a hybrid.


 

This is a similar system to the Camry hybrid with minor tweaking to suit the SUV requirements and a third electric motor to drive the rear wheels in the AWD version. 

The petrol line-up comprises four FWD versions powered by a 2.0-litre engine that’s new to RAV4 but shared with the Corolla (once again tuned slightly differently). The range-topping Edge grade employs an all-new 2.5-litre petrol engine, an eight-speed automatic and traditional mechanical AWD drive-line system.

RAV4’s new TNGA platform – which also underpins the Corolla, Camry and C-HR – provides a solid foundation for improved driving dynamics and impressive ride comfort, while a longer wheelbase and extra width create more useable cabin space, particularly for rear-seat occupants. The luggage compartment is also one of the most spacious in the class. Seating up to five, the RAV4’s redesigned seats provide good comfort and support. For the driver, the all-new layout is very clean and simple with easy-to-read instrumentation and logically positioned switches.

Despite the new RAV4’s adventurous image, Toyota expects 2WD variants to account for 70 per cent of sales, with the mid-spec GXL and Cruiser grades being the most popular, and at least 40 per cent of buyers opting for a hybrid. 

Prices start from a competitive $30,640 plus on-road costs for the GX petrol 2WD manual through to $47,140 plus on-road costs for the AWD Edge. In equivalent spec levels the Hybrid system adds $2500 and the electric AWD another $3000. 

Each grade is relatively well equipped for its position in the line-up, there is an impressive suite of safety features standard across the range, and build quality is good, particularly the premium soft-touch trim materials in the high-level variants. RAV4 will get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto later in the year as a no-cost retro-fit.

close-up interior shots of the seats in a 2019 Toyota RAV4
A young man waxes his surfboard in the boot of his 2019 Toyota RAV4 at the beach
close-up of inside of the 2019 Toyota RAV4

 

Judging from a brief drive in each configuration, over a variety of road conditions between Adelaide and McLaren Vale, the AWD Hybrid proved the most impressive. Our first stint was in the 2.5-litre Edge, which, although not class leading, handled stop/start traffic with ease and cruised comfortably. The 2.0-litre did a respectable job but, naturally, had to work harder on hills, with a noticeable increase in engine and CVT (continuously variable transmission) noise.  

Not only is the hybrid a greener option with lower fuel consumption and emissions, it is also the most powerful and the quietest. The electric motor adds more punch down low with the petrol and electric combining to provide brisk performance and seamless transition between the two. 

The benefits of AWD were quite noticeable on dirt roads where the FWD version moved around more and felt a touch nervous when compared to the stability and surefootedness of the AWD. A short stint of off-road driving in the AWD Hybrid demonstrated it is quite a capable vehicle, but we will need to wait for a more comprehensive test drive to make a call on its outright ability.

Keep an eye out for a comprehensive road test of the new Toyota RAV4, and for more car reviews, including the Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester and Kia Sportage, visit royalauto.com.au

RAV4 GXL Hybrid AWD

PRICE

Price as tested: $41,140.

Model range: $30,640 to 47,140 plus on-road costs.

DRIVETRAIN

2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid, CVT, AWD. 

Power: (petrol engine) 131kW@5700rpm; (combined) 163kW.

Torque: 221Nm@3600rpm-5200rpm.

Battery: Nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH).

Tyres: 18 x 7J alloy, 225/60 R18 tyres with temporary-use spare.

FUEL

Fuel: 91 RON petrol, 55-litre tank.
Fuel consumption: 4.8L/100km (government test).
CO2 emissions: 109g/km.

STANDARD SAFETY

Seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane trace assist with steering assist and lane centring, road-sign assist (speed signs only).

STANDARD FEATURES

Auto LED headlights, auto rain-sensing wipers, all-speed active cruise control, eight-inch touchscreen display, reversing camera, satellite navigation with SUNA live traffic, Qi phone charging.

WARRANTY/SERVICES

Five years/unlimited-kilometre warranty; 12 months/15,000-kilometre servicing.