Its new car season, which means it’s time for what’s HHFP have to say about it. Because you were all waiting for it.

Today it’s the 2019 RAV4

I have feelings about the rav4, mostly good ones, and so I have some interest in the lineage of this the first modern crossover.

So let me say this upfront - this is Toyota’s bread and butter and frankly they don’t care if you, lover of cars, don’t like it. People do and thats whats important to Toyota. Frankly the fact that they would take a risk...any risk...at alienating that fat part of the bell curve demo is gutsy and you have to respect that.

So hows it look? I like it. I realize we are only seeing the fancy trims here, but I think the shape is nice and I like the details. I think the paint choices are good and I like the two tone. The interior is also pretty great. its got a good blend of shapes, textures and materials and doesn’t look overwrought or underdone.

Advertisement

People are quick to look at the most exciting of the trims, the “Adventure Grade” model so lets do that. I think that is the worst name ever btw; A Recreation Activity Vehicle 4 wheel drive ought not to need an “adventure” version, but they needed to call that trim something other than “We can Subaru too”

Advertisement

I think it looks great, again, but what about the adventure bit?

What we know:

2.5 liter “dynamic force” engine. They haven’t told us the power rating but they do say to expect 60kw/l so figure around 200 hp. And you know what? That’s fine, 200 hp is going to be just fine. I would guess torque is in the neighborhood of 185 lbs-ft in the mid register. Toyota says the new dynamic force engines have strong low end torque which ought to help with an adventuring. (This engine in the camry: 203 hp @ 6600 rpm; 184 lb.-ft. @ 5000 rpm)

Advertisement

8 Speed auto - We don’t know the ratios but they say it loses less torque to slip, shifts faster and smoother, is lighter and will have a greater ratio spread. That means that there will be more gearing at low speeds to help it off road hopefully.

The Rav4 Adventure (2018) had a 4.07:1 final drive and the UA80F transmission in the highlander has a 5.519 1st gear, for a “crawl” ratio possibility of 22:46:1. Better than Jeep even. They won’t do this though because they will take advantage of the increased ratio spread to numerical lower the final (for the em pee gees). This is a good guess since Toyota isn’t tooting their horn about class leading crawl ratio. Expect a ratio in the 18:1 range, which while respectable won’t really enable much adventuring.

A claimed .5 inch increase in ground clearance across the board, bringing the totals up to...wait, really? sigh. 6.7 and 7.1 inches regular/adventure. So Don’t count on much here in the way of ground stomping either.

Advertisement

“True Off-Road Capabilities with Available Multi-Terrain Select and an Available Toyota-First, Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive with Rear Driveline Disconnect”

What this means is that Toyota has a fully decoupling PTO system [read up on PTO systems here if you want] with torque vectoring in the rear drive module, whether that torque vectoring is actually based on overdriving a single wheel like The Acura SH-AWD system/GNK twinster in the Focus RS, or just braking an inside wheel like the WRX is yet to be seen. Given that its called out as being a seperate option on different trim levels, I’m inclined to believe its actual hardware. Neat.

we have also been told it can “send 50 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels” and while you may think “oh cool, 50/50 like a real 4wd” remember key term here, “percent”. In a 4wd system that is “50/50", torque is evenly split and bias can occur to allow either axle to get 100% of torque depending on traction demands. Here, only 50% of torque can be sent to the rear drive module, meaning no less than 50% stays with the front wheels, even if they have no traction at all.

Advertisement

This also appears to be the first generation of RAV4 without a center differential “lock” button to override the computers selection for PTO lockup and provide maximum rear drive module torque under the right circumstances. Its been replaced with one of those stupid terrain dials that knows better than you do STOP ASKING!

It does come with a front and center TC off button, which is nice even though I expect it will be less an “off” and more a “please mom! I wont hurt myself I promise” button which will allow for some slip but still keep things nice and safe.

Also available will be a hybrid which will be faster and more powerful and have a totally decoupled electric drive module in the back which they claim can increase rear wheel torque 30% over the old unit (whatever that was). It comes with a CVT and will probably be just fine.

Advertisement

What I like:

The white roof

The shape

the interior (it really looks great)

Advertisement

The engine

The transmission

The attempt at an off road crossover

What I don’t like:

The follow through on the attempt to make an off-road crossover.

Frankly Im not going to cringe when people say they are looking at these now...which will be nice.

Advertisement

It will also be cool if Toyota can score a little of that isntagram mojo from Subaru and we start seeing these with BFG’s, a puck lift and some rally armor flaps. it will be just as silly as when its done to a crosstrek but it would be nice to see some level of enthusiasm for a toyota outside of their trucks.

Cmon, thats not bad
Image: Toyota Press
Those seats are...yeah. But you know, I love a little craziness in the seats. Why not? Your butt won’t care.
Image: Toyota Press