I have a bit of history with Toyota’s RAV4. In fact, it’s the only car I’ve ever owned. When I turned 16, I got a 1996 RAV4 (4 years old at the time with 40,000 miles on it), and it was a beautiful relationship I never wanted to end. I loved that car with all my heart, and it was still running beautifully in 2017 when I finally parted with it – passing it on to another 16-year-old who would have just as many memories in it as I did. From taking my driver’s test in that car to my first kiss, I went to high school and college in that car… countless road trips and life events happened in and around it. Quite simply put, it was more a member of the family than it was a car.
All of that being said, you now know how much I love the RAV4, and when Toyota invited me to Carmel, California for my first look at the 2019 RAV4 – I knew I was going to love it before I even saw it. However, when I did see it – I realized I was standing before a gamechanger for the brand. The car I loved so much was now a car that demanded your attention and wow’ed you with its features.
So let’s dive into why I’m geeking out over this car.
2019 Toyota RAV4
Did you know that Toyota’s best selling car in the U.S. is the RAV4? I’m not the only fangirl of the RAV! With this model being the brand’s most popular, that does make breaking the mold just a little more challenging. However, Toyota more than delivers with the new RAV4. Here’s a little bit of my experience from my first introduction earlier this month when Toyota brought me to California to test out the vehicle.
My first impression? It is still reminiscent of RAV4 – yet it’s radically different from its predecessors. Its appearance is sturdy and ready for adventure, and it absolutely evokes that emotion in you. Adventure was what I was ready for when they told us our first experience with it would be an off-roading course. Giddy up!
As someone who has ridden “low” for a several months this year in various sedans, I prefer the lifted feeling of riding “higher”. You can see more of the road, not have to (literally) climb out of your car, and you don’t have to worry about bottoming out at the slightest sign of an incline. It was a breath of fresh air to me that brought out my playful side, I was ready to have some fun with this car.
I patner up with Pili Montilla for my driving experience in the RAV4 Hybrid, and the two of us headed out to a 17-mile scenic drive along Pebble Beach. I’m not sure there’s a more beautiful coastline in the country to drive. It was absolutely stunning – and made for a number of great photo opportunities.
My Driving Experience
My first thought, not even 3 minutes into the drive, was just how amazingly smooth it was. It was incredibly comfortable, the sound system made us feel like we were at a concert at Madison Square Gardens, and the handling was a dream. I was also quite pleased with the feel of the size of the car – that might sound weird to say, but I think that’s something we all think about more than the actual physical size of the car. It’s more about does it feel too big or too small? The RAV4 didn’t feel too wide or bulky, and it wasn’t compact or tight. It was simply the perfect fit.
I had an amazing experience in the 2019 RAV4 on this trip. And as a girl who not only grew up with this car – but now as an adult who is getting married next year, bought her first home, and is starting a new business, this car fits seamlessly into my lifestyle. Whether it’s the long road trips for work or trips to see the extended family – which means unpaved country roads. The 2019 Toyota RAV4 can go anywhere – and get you there efficiently and comfortably.
Sign me up, Toyota. The 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid will be the next car I buy (Looking at you Blue Flame exterior color)!
2019 Toyota RAV4 Technology
I wouldn’t be your Geek Girl if I didn’t dive into the technology. So let’s do it! The fifth-generation Toyota AV is loaded with high-tech which will enhance your driving experience…
First I have to start with the above – as it’s my favorite tech feature of this vehicle. The digital rearview mirror can be used as a conventional auto-dimming mirror – or as a digital monitor which displays a live video feed from a camera that is mounted on the back of the vehicle.
Every 2019 RAV4 model is equipped with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant capability and Entune 3.0 Audio, a comprehensive system that includes 6 speakers, 7.0-in. touchscreen, AM/FM, Scout GPS Link Compatible with up to 3- year trial, Siri Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay Compatible, aux. port, USB media port (plus four additional USB charging ports on XLE and above), hands-free phone capability, advanced voice recognition and music streaming via Bluetooth. Toyota Connected Services include Safety Connect with 3-year trial and Wi-Fi Connect Powered by Verizon with up to 2GB within a 6-month trial.
Whether you want digital or analog display with your speedometer, the Adventure, Limited and XSE grades let you customize what you see.
It’s no secret that we’re JBL fans around here, and the audio systems in these RAV4’s couldn’t be more geek out worthy! JBL Premium Audio enhances every trip – whether a cross-country road trip or just a grocery run.
Smarter All-Wheel Drive
This is one of the coolest pieces of tech with this new model in my opinion. All-wheel drive (AWD) may have become a ubiquitous term in the automotive industry, especially among SUVs, but not all AWD systems are the same. Toyota took a smarter approach to a technology that many might not even think about. The result is additional effective traction for inclement and slippery weather and trails while reducing AWD’s typical drag on fuel economy.
The 2019 RAV4 offers three different AWD systems. In LE and XLE models, the optional AWD can send up to 50 percent of available torque to the rear wheels when necessary.
Standard on AWD-equipped Limited gas and Adventure grade models, Dynamic Torque Vectoring is added to the AWD system, which uses special couplings to manage torque distribution between the left and right rear wheels. As a result, should one rear wheel lose contact with the surface – during trail driving, for example – torque will flow to the grounded wheel to help keep the vehicle moving. In driving situations where AWD is not needed, Rear Driveline Disconnect uses a ratchet-type dog clutch to disengage the rear wheels and stop the rear drive shaft’s rotation. That reduces the energy needed to propel the vehicle, therefore helping to reduce fuel consumption.
Even More Features with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0
To keep it short and sweet, I wanted to list out some additional tech features that I really appreciate about the new RAV4 without diving into too much detail.
- Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA): Newly added to LDA w/SA is the capability, under some circumstances, to detect the road’s edge, in addition to the pre-existing capability to detect visible lane markers and the vehicle’s position in the lane. If unintentional lane deviation is detected, the system alerts the driver with audible and visual warnings. Steering Assist can provide small corrective steering inputs to help the driver prevent the vehicle from unintentionally leaving its lane.
- Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD): Capability to detect a preceding vehicle or pedestrian in daytime or with better low- light recognition capabilities, or daytime bicyclist (new).
- Automatic High Beam (AHB): Capability to automatically activate and deactivate high beams based on the driving environment and preceding vehicle’s lights.
- New Road Sign Assist (RSA): Capability to identify certain Stop, Yield, Do Not Enter and speed limit signs and signal driver with visual and audible alerts.
- New Lane Tracing Assist (LTA): For highways/freeways only, LTA can be enabled when using DRCC and has the capability to recognize white or yellow lane markings or the path of a preceding vehicle if lane markers are temporarily unavailable.
2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
I’ve said for years that my perfect car would be the results of Prius and a RAV4 having a baby. Sure, you can laugh, but that’s basically what happened! I can’t tell you how much I geeked out over the efficiency of Toyota Hybrid system in this new model.
Big changes in the geartrain yield significant efficiency improvements. The new transaxle mounts the electric motors (MG1 and MG2) coaxially rather than in-line, and the resulting smaller and lighter package reduces frictional losses.
The reduction gear is now a parallel shaft gear, rather than a planetary, and a new multi-function gear integrates the power-split planetary ring gear, parking gear, and counter-drive gear. The changes add up to an approximately 25-percent reduction in transmission losses compared to the previous model.
Further efficiency improvements come from a variable cooling system (electric water pump, electric thermostat) and a fully variable oil pump.
Energy transmission losses are reduced by new computer integration and a smaller, lighter power stack installed directly above the transaxle.
The new Ni-MH battery pack is smaller and more efficient than in the previous RAV4 HV, reducing HV battery charging time and frequency and contributing to enhanced fuel efficiency. The pack is small enough to be installed under the rear seats, rather than taking up space under the cargo area.
2019 Toyota RAV4 Availability + Pricing
Dealership arrivals can’t come soon enough! The 2019 RAV4 gas models set to arrive in December, and RAV4 Hybrid models will arrive in late March 2019.
The other really important question – how much does it cost? The 2019 RAV4 has a starting MSRP of $25,500 for gas models, and the hybrid models start at $27,700. My personal pick? The Hybrid XSE HV which is $33,700. You can’t go wrong with any of the models, but a few extra bells and whistles make the adventures all the more fun!
Thank you for an amazing trip Toyota – and for re-inventing a car that means more to me than words. I can’t wait to go on life’s adventures with this RAV4!
Your Geek Girl,
Note: Toyota did bring me out to California for the media preview of the 2019 RAV4 and cover my expenses. I did not receive any other forms of compensation. All views and opinions expressed in this article are my own. Your girl is truly a geek for this car.