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2019 Toyota RAV4 Gets a Major Redesign Outside and In

by Paul Strauss
2019 Toyota RAV4 Gets a Major Redesign Outside and Inzoom in

Despite the wild popularity of the RAV4, Toyota’s versatile mid-size SUV hasn’t had a complete redesign in six years. Well, 2019 changes all that, with the release of an all-new RAV4 that not only looks completely different, but rides on a brand new platform.

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With the 2019 model of the RAV4, Toyota made a conscious decision to move its design away from the curvy looks of its cars, and move to the more rugged and adventurous look of its trucks. With a chiseled new front end, the new RAV looks right at home alongside the 4Runner and Tacoma, and that makes me happy, since I’m a big fan of the current design of those body-on-frame vehicles.

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While the RAV4 sticks to a unibody construction this time out, it rides on an all-new platform dubbed “TNGA K.” The SUV has a slightly longer wheelbase – about 1.2″ longer than before, but otherwise its dimensions are very close, losing 0.2″ in total length and height, and gaining 0.4″ in width. It also gains 0.5″ in ground clearance, which is always welcome when you leave the pavement. The new chassis is said to be 57% stiffer than the prior model, and drivers can expect improvements in noise, vibration, and harshness.

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Under the hood, there’s either a new 2.5-liter “Dynamic Force” inline-4 engine, or a hybrid powertrain. The standard gas engine gets an 8-speed automatic transmission this time, while the hybrid system gets the same engine mated to an electronically-controlled CVT to blend power between the gas and electric motor. Toyota hasn’t released output specs on either powertrain, but both systems are expected to see increases in power and efficiency. One thing we do know is that the Hybrid can send up to 30% more torque to the rear wheels than before.

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If you go for the AWD Limited or Adventure gas models, you’ll get a torque vectoring all-wheel drive system that dynamically sends power to either of the rear wheels as needed to help with cornering and maneuvering through tight terrain. The AWD system can also completely disconnect the rear driveline for situations like highway driving, improving fuel efficiency and reducing vibrations. The Hybrid models trade these bells and whistles for greater overally power and performance than the gas models.

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There are three trim levels for 2019: the upscale Limited, with its upgraded interior, 19″ alloy wheels and chrome trim; the rugged Adventure, with big overfenders, roof rails, and more aggressive grille; and the sporty new XSE Hybrid, with piano black trim and matching black roof. Inside, the new RAV4 looks sharper all around, with more linear styling across the dash, door trim, and center console, and available upgrades like ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a panoramic moonroof.

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There’s also a new 7″ touchscreen display running Entune 3.0, and offering Wi-fi connectivity, and both Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration – sorry, still no Android Auto yet. An upgraded new JBL 11 speaker, 800-watt audio system is also available. The RAV4 also gets up to 5 USB ports, and optional Qi wireless charging. Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard as well, and includes pre-collision safety with pedestrian detection, full speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, lane tracing assist, and road sign assist.

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I was a fan of the outgoing RAV4, so I’m looking forward to see how the latest version of Toyota’s top-selling vehicle looks and handles in person.

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