If you hadn't given serious thought to the Toyota RAV4 previously, you might want to now. The 2019 RAV4 is a huge improvement over its anonymous predecessors. Bold styling helps the compact crossover stand out, and the available hybrid model – now with up to 41 miles per gallon on the highway – means it's more efficient than ever.
A few minor inconveniences in the tech and towing department could dissuade some especially picky buyers, but there's still plenty to like about the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid as a whole. It's a well-conceived, nice to drive crossover that remains competitive in a class filled with lots of good options.
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid affords owners an impressive 41 MPG in the city, 38 MPG on the highway, and 40 combined. Those numbers are good for the class and improve on the outgoing model by 15, 5, and 11 MPG, respectively. Compare that to the outgoing Nissan Rogue Hybrid (33/35/34) and the smaller Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid (23/29/25), and the RAV4 Hybrid is more efficient.
The entire RAV4 range looks great, including the Hybrid. Where other hybrids often ditch the traditional lines of their gas-powered siblings for funkier cues, the RAV4 Hybrid doesn't sacrifice style for efficiency. Even the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid has some odd silver accents on the front fascia that differentiates it from the traditional version. The only thing that separates the hybrid RAV4 from the normal gas-powered model are barely noticeable blue accents on the badge, a staple for Toyota hybrids, and the availability of an XSE model.
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is an exceptional daily driver. It shines on the highway with a cushy suspension and impressive sound deadening, but is equally as good in the city, too. The torquey 2.5-liter engine and three electric motors and lightweight, responsive steering makes the RAV4 Hybrid quick and nimble around town without sacrificing comfort. The laggy throttle we felt in the gas-powered Adventure model disappears here thanks in part to the additional oomph from the battery pack, and the Hybrid's smaller 18-inch wheels (versus 19 inchers on the Adventure model) don’t feel as back-breaking over imperfect roads.
The RAV4 Hybrid’s infotainment system is identical to the unit in the Adventure model we drove, and it’s once again nothing to write home about. The same 8.0-inch screen and Entune 3.0 package (a $1,620 upgrade) carry over here, too. The tacked-on screen and cheap-looking buttons don't do the rest of the RAV4's likable interior justice. The outdated graphics, meanwhile, look like something you'd find on a vehicle years older than this. Apple CarPlay, at least, alleviates some of the issues, but we'd appreciate a better looking setup.
In the transition from pure gas to gasoline-electric hybrid power, the RAV4 loses a lot of towing strength. The traditional 2.5-liter engine tugs up to 3,500 pounds, while the Hybrid does just half that (1,750 pounds).
Remember when the RAV4 was still affordable? These days, you can't get a base RAV for less than $25,650. The Hybrid model adds a $2,200 premium on top of that, and the entry-level RAV4 Hybrid LE starts at $27,850. Adding options make things significantly pricier.
The priciest option on our tester is the $1,620 Entune 3.0 audio upgrade, which adds an in-dash navigation system, a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen, more USB ports, and satellite radio (with a free three-month trial), among others. But the Tech package, with adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, and a Qi wireless charger, is another $640. The Weather package, with rain-sensing wipers and a heated steering wheel, is $375. Paint protection is $395, carpeted floor mats are $269, and a panoramic sunroof is another $200.
Almost fully loaded, our XSE Hybrid tester with all-wheel drive tops out at a whopping $38,294.
2019 Toyota RAV4 XSE Hybrid
Engine2.5-Liter I4, Three Electric Motors
Drive TypeAll-Wheel Drive
Battery1.6-kWh Nickel-Metal Hydride
Speed 0-60 MPH7.8 Seconds
Towing 1,750 Pounds
Efficiency41 City/ 37 Highway / 39 Combined (est.)
Cargo Volume37.6 Cubic Feet (Behind Rear Seat)
2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid First Test: More Power, Less Gas
A bigger player in a segment of twoToyota RAV4 Hybrid Full Overview
Toyota introduced the RAV4 Hybrid back in 2015, and although the hybrid remains a lower-volume variant, its importance in the RAV4 lineup continues to grow. Toyota brought the hybrid model back with the fifth-gen RAV4 and hopes to increase its share in a segment of two. The hybrid may only represent about 12 percent of RAV4 sales at the moment, but after our experience with the 2019 model, that number is probably going to keep increasing.
Toyota's new hybrid SUV is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder unit producing 176 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque. That engine is mated to an electric motor sending 118 hp and 149 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels and 54 hp and 89 lb-ft to the rear wheels for a combined system output of 219 hp, more than the last-gen hybrid's 194 hp and the 2019 non-hybrid's 203 hp. The Japanese automaker made a few changes to this system from the previous RAV4 Hybrid, including new transaxle mounts for the electric motors and improvements to the variable cooling system. The battery pack is a nickel-metal hydride unit like before, and the transmission is an electronically controlled CVT with sequential shift modes. All 2019 RAV4 Hybrids will continue to have standard all-wheel drive.
Although the new RAV4 Hybrid makes more power, it also saves more gas. Toyota estimates the 2019 model will deliver 41/37 mpg in city/highway; that's much better than the 2018 model, which got 34/30. In comparison, the 2019 Nissan Rogue Hybrid AWD delivers 31/34 mpg (or 33/35 mpg with front-wheel drive), giving the RAV4 a bigger advantage over its main hybrid competitor. Non-hybrid 2019 RAV4 AWDs are EPA rated at 25-27/33-34 mpg.
As we found out during our testing at SUV of the Year, the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid XSE went from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, an improvement from the 7.8 seconds it took the 2016 model in our testing. The 2019 RAV4 Hybrid needed 15.6 seconds to complete the quarter mile at 90.4 mph, better than the 2016 model (16.0 seconds at 86.4 mph). Where the new hybrid model underperformed was braking distance. The 2019 RAV4 XSE Hybrid stopped from 60 to 0 mph in 143 feet, compared to the 131 feet it took an AWD 2019 Adventure non-hybrid model. I mention the non-hybrid model because both SUVs were tested in the same conditions on the same day. Although the soaring temps were a crucial factor for braking distances on vehicles tested that day, the difference between the models is significant. Both models have the same brake size (12.0 inches in the front, 11.1 inches in the rear), so we think the hybrid's regenerative braking or its additional 167 pounds could have led to the longer distance.
Even so, many MotorTrend staffers still liked driving the hybrid more than the non-hybrid model. Features editor Christian Seabaugh wants the powertrain expanded to all RAV4s, adding it was "much smoother and more pleasant an experience than the I-4." Technical director Frank Markus also appreciated the powertrain but complained about the hybrid's chassis when really pushing the car on a winding road. "Those persuaded by the great new looks of the RAV4 should save up for the hybrid model. This is the best-sorted powertrain of the bunch. Sadly its chassis still got so out of shape as to cause the stability control to generate audible and feelable clunks as it braked the various corners," he said.
Like the previous generation, a few aesthetic cues differentiate the hybrid from the non-hybrid model. The Toyota logo has blue accents, and hybrid badges can be seen on the sides of the vehicle. Inside, we dig the blue stitching on our XSE tester's seats, center console, and door panels, as well as the blue needles on the dashboard gauges. The 8.0-inch touchscreen can display the hybrid powertrain's battery activity, just like we've seen in other Toyotas including the Prius.
Given that the hybrid's battery pack is located underneath the back seat, the interior space isn't compromised. Seats can still be folded flat, and just like the non-hybrid version, five people can sit inside comfortably. Cargo space remains 37.0 to 37.6 cubic feet behind the second-row seats, just like the standard models. Although senior production editor Zach Gale noticed the RAV4 Hybrid was more spacious than other non-hybrid SUVs, he missed the ability to fold the rear seats from the cargo area and the wide-opening rear doors still offered by the Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V.
Neither of those two competitors currently offers a hybrid model in the U.S., however. On the RAV4 Hybrid, a sport mode changes throttle mapping and the way the transmission works, making the RAV4 feel more responsive. And just like its name suggests, an eco mode alters performance to attain the best fuel economy possible. There's also a small button located below the rotary knob for the drive mode selector called "EV Mode," which provides a very small all-electric range only if there's enough juice in the battery.
Just like on non-hybrid versions, Toyota Safety Sense will be standard on all hybrid models. The package includes a pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high-beams, lane tracing assist, and road sign assist. XLE and above will also get blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic braking as standard equipment.
Four trims will be available once the RAV4 Hybrid arrives in March 2019. The LE base model will start at $28,745; the XLE will go for $30,545; and XSE and Limited will start at $34,745 and $36,745, respectively. Our XSE model was equipped with the Advanced Technology package ($640), the Weather Prep Package ($375, heated steering wheel and rain-sensing wipers), the Premium Audio Package with Navi & JBL ($1,620), and a panoramic moonroof ($200), leaving an estimated as-tested price of $38,024 (our tester also had a few accessories, the prices of which were not yet available). Depending on the trim, the premium for going hybrid may not be as much as you think, but like we said before, this powertrain is worth it. Plus, over time, you'll save more money when you hit the gas station.
|2019 Toyota RAV4 XSE Hybrid|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$38,024 (est)|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||2.5L/176-hp/163-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 plus 118-hp (front) + 54-hp (rear)/149-lb-ft (front) + 89-lb-ft (rear) electric motor; 219 hp comb|
|TRANSMISSION||Cont variable auto|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,825 lb (56/44%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||180.9 x 73.0 x 66.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.5 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.6 sec @ 90.4 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||143 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.75 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||28.4 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||Not tested|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||41/38/39 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||82/89 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.49 lb/mile|
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2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid review: SUV sales champ gets an electrified heart
Toyota sold upwards of 400,000 examples of its RAV4 crossover SUV last year. So when it came time to redo its sales superstar, the pressure was high to not screw up its golden goose. Fortunately, Toyota's done a great job with this new RAV4, but there's another trick up this SUV's sleeve. Meet the RAV4 Hybrid, a model that takes all of the accolades Toyota's compact crossover has earned and adds a strong dose of efficiency -- and driving performance.
While the majority of RAV4s driving off dealer lots will be gasoline-only models with a 203-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, people who really value efficiency will likely be enticed by the hybrid. It's got stellar EPA-estimated fuel economy figures of 41 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway -- a huge benefit over the 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway ratings of the standard RAV4. All-wheel drive is standard with a rear-mounted electric motor moving the back wheels, and as a whole, the powertrain is a little more powerful than its gas-only sibling, with a combined system output of 219 horsepower.
Working with a continuously variable transmission, the engine provides more than enough kick to get up to speed in a semi-quick fashion. The CVT hallmark of annoyingly loud engine drone under hard acceleration remains, but the way that the drivetrain switches between gas, electric or a combination of the two for propulsion is impressively seamless.
Regenerative brake tuning is also on point, offering strong stopping muscle and modulation abilities. Older Toyota hybrids had brake pedals that felt like on/off switches when switching between regenerative and mechanical braking, and this is one area where the company has really come a long way.
At the foundation of all fifth-generation RAV4s is a variant of the TNGA-K platform that's also underpins the Avalon and Camrysedans. That accounts for 57 percent better rigidity than the outgoing car and allows the drivetrain to be mounted lower, bringing the center of gravity closer to the ground.
All of that sounds promising dynamically speaking, but a more forgiving suspension and numb off-center steering response prevent the RAV4 from having reflexes as sharp as the Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5. Overall handling characteristics are still decent for a 3,800-pound crossover, with controlled initial body roll entering corners. The 18-inch wheels and Dunlop Grandtrek tires offer a ride quality that will satisfy the majority of consumers, as well. Dreaded Midwest roads littered with potholes and frost heaves don't rattle the RAV4 as the suspension soaks up impacts. This is a noticeable improvement over the old car that felt crashy over small- to medium-sized bumps.
Beefier looks and better comfort
As most of its competitors adopt rounder, car-like lines, designers took the RAV4 in a boxier and more substantial-looking direction. The front takes cues from Toyota trucks like the 4Runner and Tacoma with my Limited test car wearing a hexagon-pattern grille insert. At the sides, there are squared-off wheel arches, while the rear also strikes a chunkier appearance. As a big fan of the boxy 4Runner, I do like the new look.
Inside, a blockier dash and door panels continue the truck-like theme. Thankfully, unlike the RAV4's truck brethren that are filled with acres of hard plastic, materials inside this Toyota are near the top of its class. All major surfaces have soft-touch surfacing with some accent stitching sprinkled in for good measure. Other nice touches are the rubber door pull handles and center stack knobs that add to the crossover's slightly more premium feel.
Both cabin comfort and functionality are good. The front seats are cushy but could use a little more side bolstering. Outward visibility is excellent from all angles. There's serviceable room for adults in both rows, and lots of storage cubbies to stash items. The 37.5 cubic feet of cargo space in back is helpful during a weekly grocery run, but a trip to the wholesale restaurant supply store (hey, I've got to help the family business when I can) requires folding the rear seats to use all of the RAV4's 69.8 cubic feet of hauling real estate.
Taking care of infotainment duties in my range-topping Hybrid Limited test car is the Toyota Entune 3 interface with a responsive 8-inch touchscreen. This tester comes with onboard navigation, an 11-speaker JBL audio setup, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility. The Entune screen is intuitively laid out with big and clear screen icons and handy hard shortcut buttons flanking the screen to quickly call up the most commonly used menus. As for Entune knocks, it still doesn't offer Android Auto, and the graphics look seriously dated.
To charge phones and tablets, a USB port, 12-volt outlet and optional wireless charge pad sit at the base of the center stack, while a couple of 2.1-amp USBs reside in the center armrest. Rear passengers also have easy access to two 2.1-amp USB ports on the back of the center console.
All RAV4 Hybrids receive forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, road sign assist and lane departure warning with lane-keeping assist. Limited trims also get standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and an adjustable, digital rearview mirror. A 360-degree surround-view camera is available as an option.
How I'd spec it
As enticing as the more affordable XSE model, I would go with a Limited for the extra creature comforts and blind-spot monitoring. The Limited begins at a not-too-expensive $36,745, including $1,045 for destination. I would only add the $1,015 Limited Weather Package mostly for the heated steering wheel to bring the price tag of my RAV4 Hybrid to $37,760. The car pictured here punches in at $39,565.
When it comes to small gas/electric crossovers, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has a lot going for it. With a base price of $28,745, it only carries are $800 price premium over its gas-only counterparts so it won't break the bank. Making it a more compelling package are the fuel economy benefits along with the new styling, nicer interior and tech upgrades.
The only direct mild hybrid competitor at the moment is the Nissan Rogue Hybrid, with its forgettable looks, not to mention the fact that it's painfully slow and doesn't come close to matching the Toyota's efficiency. So if you're shopping for a compact hybrid crossover, the new RAV4 truly is the best thing going.
Jon's Comparable Picks
Toyota made a big push with its redesigned 2019 RAV4 compact SUV, updating and improving it with a tougher look (especially in its Adventure trim level), a better-appointed interior with plusher materials, and a more sophisticated ride-and-handling balance. Not that it needed to be totally revamped: The outgoing 2018 model was not only Toyota's biggest seller, it outsold every other vehicle in the United States except for the three most popular full-size pickup trucks. While we've tested several of the latest RAV4s and found them to be more attractive and engaging to drive than before, the conventional models also are noisy and can offer less value than some competitors, such as the Honda CR-V and the Mazda CX-5. The RAV4 hybrid variant, however, addresses one of those negatives and delivers far better fuel economy in the process.
We've already vetted the conventional RAV4 in isolation as well as pitted it against the class-leading and 10Best-winning Mazda CX-5 in a comparison test. But the hybrid model returns impressive advantages over its stablemate in fuel efficiency and performance. Thanks to the extra torque provided by the hybrid system, which powers the rear wheels through a rear-mounted electric motor, it felt considerably peppier than the standard RAV4 despite weighing 156 pounds more. (Two additional electric motors, along with a 176-hp 2.5-liter inline-four, power the front wheels; total system output amounts to 219 horses.) That seat-of-the-pants impression was backed up by its 7.4-second zero-to-60-mph time, which is 0.7 second quicker than an all-wheel-drive nonhybrid Adventure model we tested that was powered by a 203-hp version of the 2.5-liter.
Along with quicker acceleration comes fuel economy that buries the standard-engine RAV4's. The EPA rates the hybrid at 40 mpg combined, 41 city, and 38 highway versus the lesser RAV4's already good 30 mpg combined, 27 city, and 34 highway. We saw 37 mpg on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, handily beating the RAV4 Adventure's 32 mpg, and our observed mixed-driving average of 32 mpg is 9 mpg better than the normal version's. The hybrid's slightly smaller 225/60R-18 Dunlop Grandtrek PT20 all-season tires, however, don't grip the road as strongly as our previous test car's 235/55R-19 Toyo A39 Open Country all-seasons. The hybrid's 182-foot stop from 70 mph is a significant 21 feet longer than the nonhybrid's, and its orbit around the skidpad fell from 0.84 g to 0.81 g.
Familiar Yet Better
The RAV4 hybrid shares its distinctive looks with the regular model—although it cannot be had in the more butch Adventure trim—as well as its handsome and roomy interior, a long list of standard safety tech, comfortable front seats, and its nicely balanced ride, handling, and steering. Aside from the mushiness of its standard continuously variable automatic transmission versus the conventional model's eight-speed automatic, it's almost impossible to tell you're driving a hybrid. Its 1.6-kWh nickel-metal-hydride battery pack is small enough to fit under the rear seat, so there's no loss in passenger or cargo space. Possibly best of all, in a RAV4 hybrid your ears won't ring from the aural assault doled out by the standard RAV4's obnoxious, grating engine note. At 73 decibels at wide-open throttle, the hybrid's sound reading is 3 decibels quieter than the regular version's, although noise levels are about the same at a 70-mph cruise. This compact ute will never sing Ferrari-style arias, but the sounds coming from under the hood are notably muffled and are now at least acceptable compared to other vehicles in this class.
Unfortunately, there's a price to pay for the RAV4 hybrid's improvements. While the hybrid's pricing opens at $28,945 for the LE model, our loaded Limited test vehicle stickered at $40,160. A top-spec Touring version of the Honda CR-V is significantly cheaper at around $35K, and the Mazda CX-5 Signature is comparable to the Toyota in price but feels downright luxurious when driven back to back. Adding the hybrid powertrain to most of the RAV4's trim levels costs $2200—with one notable exception. The XSE hybrid, which is equipped similarly to the conventional midrange Adventure trim, costs only $800 more at $34,945 to start. That pricing structure may be confusing, but it makes the XSE hybrid the clear value play of the lineup, and the one we'd recommend if you have to have a new RAV4.
2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited AWD
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED
$40,160 (base price: $36,945)
DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline-4, 176 hp, 163 lb-ft + 3 permanent-magnet synchronous AC motors, front: 118 hp, 149 lb-ft; rear: 54 hp, 89 lb-ft (combined output, 219 hp); 1.6-kWh nickel-metal-hydride battery pack
continuously variable automatic with manual shifting mode
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 12.0-in vented disc/11.1-in disc
Tires: Dunlop Grandtrek PT20, 225/60R-18 100H M+S
Wheelbase: 105.9 in
Length: 181.5 in
Width: 73.4 in
Height: 67.0 in
Passenger volume: 99 cu ft
Cargo volume: 37 cu ft
Curb weight: 3821 lb
Zero to 60 mph: 7.4 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 19.1 sec
Zero to 110 mph: 24.3 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 7.9 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 4.2 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.1 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 15.7 sec @ 91 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 117 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 182 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.81 g
Observed: 32 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 37 mpg
Highway range: 530 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 40/41/38 mpg
DOWNLOAD TEST SHEET
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Hybrid review 2019 toyota rav4
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