Road Test; 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

America’s Best-selling SUV Gets Better

When you have
something really, really good going, the last thing you want to do is overthink
the next step. Toyota must have been in this dilemma when they realized the
RAV4 needed to be updated, but exactly what should be touched on the best-selling
SUV in America? What Toyota did was to sharpen the exterior styling, went
all-out on suspension and ride improvements, and doubled down on efficiency.
Introducing the all-new 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD.

The 2019 RAV4 Hybrid has new angles

First introduced
in 2016, the second generation 2019 RAV4 Hybrid AWD joins the all-new 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid sedan, along with hybrid versions of the Prius, Avalon,
Camry and Highlander, making Toyota the best at offering the widest selection
of hybrid vehicles.

Smooth, Steady,
Efficient Performance

The all-new 2019 RAV4
Hybrid AWD is powered by Toyota’s hybrid system of a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder,
non-turbocharged engine. When combined with twin electric motors, there is a
total of 219 horsepower and 163 pounds-feet of torque in the gas-electric
system. Power is sent to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT)
with driving modes of Eco, Power, Sport and EV. For off-roading, there is a
Trail mode and Trailer Sway Control when towing.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Aero tricks help pump the RAV4 Hybrid’s fuel economy above 40 mpg

The Toyota Hybrid System
automatically switches between the electric drive mode, combined electric motor
and gasoline engine and gasoline-only engine power. Fuel economy, aided by
active grille shutters, for the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid AWD is EPA rated at 41 mpg city/37
highway/39 combined. In 545 miles of negotiating Southern California freeways,
we averaged 42.2 mpg—a very satisfying number for a 3,755-pound, all-wheel
drive compact crossover.

Running on regular
unleaded, the hybrid system was smooth, with the CVT being programmed to err on
the side of fuel efficiency. For more spirited performance, opt for the
driver-selectable Power mode setting and watch the speedometer turn to red. The
Power mode is the place to be for peppy and spirited driving. Otherwise, Eco
was more than adequate for cruising along at-or-above highways speeds.

The nickel-metal-hydride
(NiMH) battery is charged when applying the brakes or coasting. The
regenerative charging system converts kinetic energy into electric energy and
stores it in the battery. This process can be viewed on a dash gauge where you
can watch the power flow into and out of the battery and engine.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
You’ve got choices to make

When driving a hybrid, I
like the option to select the EV mode, especially around town, forcing the car
to run solely on electric power. The RAV4 Hybrid has this option, but the
driving range in pure electric mode is very short, and even the slightest
accelerator pressure kicks-in the gasoline engine. So, driving silently with
zero tailpipe emissions will be a very short proposition.

Where the RAV4 Hybrid
shines is letting the computer find the most fuel-efficient way to combine electricity
and gasoline. The system is sensitive to even the slightest fluctuation in road
inclines and declines, more than the driver can feel. There is a green EV icon
on the gauge cluster that goes on and off as the RAV4 Hybrid system
imperceptibly knows it is time to save gasoline by using electricity.

The electronically
controlled brake system incorporates regenerative control and power-assisted,
four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and electronic brake force distribution. The
stops were straight and consistent, and produced a satisfying regenerative
whirring when stopping.

Hitting the Road

Taking 7.5 seconds to 60
mph is more than adequate for all the freeway challenges we encountered in
Southern California. Believe me, there are a myriad of challenges. The CVT was
smooth and never left us feeling like an eight-speed automatic would have been
a better option. The freeway ride was stable and smooth, with road
imperfections well moderated. Wind noise was non-existent.

The Dunlop Grandtrek
225/60R tires, on five-spoke black painted 18-inch alloy rims, offered a quiet
ride and good grip. Taking to the mountains for some cornering fun revealed a
balanced design with little body lean, except when pushing too hard. The
lesson: slow down!

Boxier Outside with
Comfort Inside

Toyota sharpened the edges
and lines on the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid, leaving behind the more rounded styling of
the previous year. It sits a bit taller and boxier than in the past, with the
grille following the design cues of Toyota’s trucks. Clean Fleet Report’s
RAV4 Hybrid was an eye-catching Blizzard Pearl White with a Midnight Black Metallic
roof, blacked-out wheels, black trim and a color-keyed shark fin antenna on the
roof. The more aggressive look of the all-new RAV4 Hybrid with the
hexagon-hatched grille, swept-back LED projector headlights and integrated fog
lights cuts a striking pose. Hybrid badging is subtle with the blue Toyota logo
on the power liftgate, and a script “Hybrid” on the front fenders.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Clean and basic inside

The interior is clean and
basic, and well-equipped with features such as push button start/stop,
one-touch power windows and a power tilt and slide moonroof. The gauges are
large and well placed for ease of viewing, with white numbers on a black
background. The driver seat is eight-way power adjustable, with the passenger
getting four-way manual adjustments. The XSE package came with black SofTex-trimmed
heated front seats, with blue topstitching and fabric inserts. SofTex is a
synthetic leather seat material designed for wear, easy cleaning and resisting
spills, and uses a manufacturing process that is more environmentally sensitive
than conventional synthetic leather.

One very nice feature is
the rear view mirror can be switched into rear-facing, digital camera. This
view takes a bit of acclimation, but once familiar with it, the view is wider
than the standard mirror.

The upscale look to the
interior is pleasant on the eyes and to the touch. The split and reclining
60/40 rear seats fold flat, separated by a center armrest with cup holders.
Rear seat leg and headroom is good for two adults, three on a short stint. The
storage space, with the rear seat in the up position, can handle four on a long
road trip. The standard roof rack can handle a storage pod and the RAV4 Hybrid
can tow up-to 1,750 pounds for a small camping trailer. And remember, all this
versatility and utility comes along with 40+ mpg.

There are cubbies, cup
holders (eight to be exact), with storage shelves under the dash for all the
small stuff that commonly bangs around on the floor. The blue ambient lighting
in the storage areas and front cup holders, is a nice touch. The rear
passengers get air vents and two USB ports. There is even a power port in the
far rear cargo area. Perfect for tailgating.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
An interior upgrade for the popular album

The leather
trimmed, tilt and telescopic three-spoke heated steering wheel has controls for
audio, hands-free Bluetooth telephone operation, and cruise control. The
centerpiece of the RAV4 Hybrid is the 8.0-inch touchscreen that rises from the
dash. Here you will find controls for the JBL premium audio system of AM/FM/HD
radio, with Siri Eyes Free and Apple CarPlay. There are two USB ports and a
12V/120W up front, and Toyota’s Safety Connect that includes Wi-Fi by Verizon
with a six-month trial. For those long, fuel-efficient road trips, having Wi-Fi
for multiple devises will keep the backseat passengers happy—and quiet.

A big thank you to
Toyota for having volume and channel selection knobs, and large wheels to
control the automatic climate control.

Safety and
Convenience

The 2019 RAV4 Hybrid AWD
comes with Toyota’s Star Safety System, plus active and passive safety features
including eight air bags, a tire pressure monitoring system, collapsible
steering column, anti-theft alarm and engine immobilizer, and a rear view
camera.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Uping the ante

Convenience features
include exterior puddle lamps, rain-sensitive windshield wipers with deicing,
Homelink, Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging and power exterior
mirrors.

Pricing and
Warranties

The 2019 Toyota
RAV4 Hybrid AWD comes in three trim levels, with these base prices.

LE                $27,700

XLE              $29,500

XSE             $33,700

Clean Fleet Report’s RAV4 Hybrid AWD XSE had a base MSRP of $33,700 and options of $2,535 for a total of $36,535. Pricing excludes the $1,045 delivery and processing fee. The 2019 RAV4 Hybrid comes with these warranties:

  • Hybrid Components Eight years/100,000 miles
  • Powertrain Five years/60,000 miles
  • Basic Three years/36,000 miles
  • Maintenance Plan Two years/25,000 miles
  • Anti-perforation Five years/Unlimited miles
  • Roadside Assistance Two years/25,000 miles

Observations:
2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD XSE

Built in Canada, the all-new
2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid checks off many boxes on a must-have list when looking
at a compact crossover:

  • Economy: check
  • Style: check
  • Seating for five adults:
    check
  • Toyota quality: check.
2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Checking all the boxes

There are more, but the
best way to see if the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid fits your lifestyle is to visit your
Toyota dealer. Make an appointment with one of their factory-trained hybrid
specialists and take the RAV4 Hybrid Hybrid out for a lengthy test drive.

So, what do you do when
you have the best-selling SUV, in America? How about making it better: check.

Whatever you end
up buying, Happy Driving!

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sure to opt-in to the Clean Fleet Report newsletter (top right of page)
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Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles
from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are
based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address
issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition,
we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology.
As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or
meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and
news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in
their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids,
hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that
are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer
reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle
market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to
providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

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