TNGA: Meet the 2019-2020 Toyota RAV4

It seems only fitting that the fifth-generation Toyota RAV4, America’s best-selling crossover, was launched in New York, one of its best sales areas. RAV4 sales doubled from 2012 to 2017, and by the end of March 2018, it was the best-selling vehicle in America, other than pickups.


The 2019-2020 RAV4 is the first on the new TNGA global platform, also used by the Corolla, Camry, and Avalon; to improve handling, it has a lower center of gravity, a longer wheelbase, and a wider track. Shorter overhangs can help the RAV4 when offroad; and despite lowering the body, ground clearance increased by over half an inch. The chassis is 57% more rigid than in the 2018 models, though it kept its unibody design. The multi-link rear suspension helps with grip over rough streets or trails.

  2018 RAV4 2019-2020 RAV4
Wheelbase 104.7 105.9
Length 181.1 180.9
Width 72.6 73.0
Height 67.1 66.9

2019-2020 RAV4 powertrain: engines, transmissions, all wheel drive

The RAV4 comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a “Dynamic Force” 2.5 liter four cylinder engine with intelligent variable valve timing — except for the hybrid, which uses the same engine, with a different valve timing system and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The new engine has a 40% thermal efficiency (41% on hybrids); while the automatic transmission has direct lock-up on all but first gear and reverse. The engine also has variable cooling.

2019 RAV4

Toyota’s new all wheel drive system for the Limited and Adventure models has dynamic torque vectoring and the ability to disconnect the entire rear driveline when it isn’t needed, increasing efficiency. The system can send half of engine torque to the rear wheels, and distribute it to the right or left wheel as needed. The driveline disconnection uses ratchet-type dog clutches on the front and rear shafts, which stop the driveshaft from rotating entirely, increase fuel efficiency.

2019 Toyota RAV4

There are two other all wheel drive systems; a similar system, but without Dynamic Torque Vectoring, is available on less costly RAV4s. The hybrid uses a brand new system dubbed AWD-i, which increases the total torque to the rear wheels by 30%, compared to the 2018 AWD-i system. The new control system distributes torque to the rear wheels based on the driving conditions.

Multi-Terrain Select, on all non-hybrid AWD RAV4s, provides a control dial or buttons to set traction programs for snow, mud, sand, or rocks.

The different models

The sportiest driving dynamics may come with the new XSE Hybrid model, styled with piano-black accents; it has tauter shock absorbers and springs than the other RAV4s, making it both the quickest—and best-handling—RAV4 in the lineup.

The RAV4 Adventure has high-rise roof rails, large over-fenders, more aggressive grilles and fog light surrounds, and unique wheels. It includes standard Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive with Rear Driveline Disconnect. There is an optional white roof with the metallic black, Blue Flame, or Lunar Rock colors. Interior seats come in black or Mocha-colored Softex, with orange accents.

The XSE Hybrid has two-tone paint, with a black roof and Blizzard Pearl, Silver Sky Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, or Blueprint body. The interior is lined with black Softex material and blue accents.

2019 Toyota RAV4

The RAV4 Limited has 19-inch alloy wheels and chrome accents; other standard features include a front-row moonroof, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory, and 2-way lumbar support. The crossover has a 7-inch display and, for the first time in a Toyota in North America, a digital rear-view mirror; flipping a switch converts a standard mirror into one with a larger field of vision, from a high-mounted, adjustable wide-angle camera on the rear of vehicle.

Options include ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a panoramic moonroof, and a hands-free power liftgate, operated by waving a foot under the rear bumper.

Styling and such

The 2019s have a “chiseled,” angular look, “robust shoulders,” and optional 19-inch wheels. Side mirrors were moved lower on the door for better visibility; for the same reason, the beltline was lowered, and the rear quarter glass enlarged.

2019 RAV4 dashboard

Inside, the cabin was completely redone, and an optional wireless charger added. Front passengers have an in-dash tray to hold small items. HVAC knobs were redesigned to be more tactile. In the back, there is greater hip and leg room; the rear cargo liner now has a reversible liner as well as side nets for storing small items.

Entune 3

Entune 3.0 multimedia is standard on the RAV4, including Verizon cell-to-wifi (with subscription) and support for Amazon Alexa and Apple CarPlay. The system uses a seven inch touch screen in the center stack; an eight-inch screen is optional. The RAV4 can have up to five USB ports, and an optional eight-channel, 800-watt, eleven-speaker JBL audio system.


Safety and such

Every RAV4 comes with:

Options include blind spot monitors, rear cross path alerts (for backing up safely even if you can't see to either side), a bird’s-eye view camera, and Intelligent Clearance Sonar.

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