2019 Toyota RAV4 Debuts With A More Appealing Robust Design (Photos & Videos)

The RAV4 is the model that started it all in the compact crossover segment some 24 years ago, but along the way, you could say it lost its design luster becoming somewhat of a Camry of SUVs, even though it never lost its sales crown.

Now, with the introduction of the fifth generation model at the New York Auto Show, Toyota is going back to its roots with a more brute interpretation, making it the most interesting-looking RAV4 since the original of the mid-1990s.

A more rugged and sharper exterior

Unlike what we’ve come to expect from German manufacturers and their tiresome evolutionary approach to redesigns these days, you won’t confuse the new RAV4 with the outgoing model that was introduced back in 2013. It has a more a chiseled appearance that was previewed by the FT-AC concept study at last year’s LA Auto Show.

Toyota FT-AC Concept from 2017

Of course, on the RAV4, most details have been dialed down for mass consumption, but still, the new model looks closer related to, let’s say, the 4Runner TRD than its predecessor. And that’s a good thing. The bolder character lines, angular LED headlamps, robust shoulders with squared off fender openings and an in-your-face grille make for a far more interesting car to look at. It’s not all perfect, as the rear end it’s a bit too busy, yet less distinctive than the front, but you can’t have it all.

Angular lines and plenty of tech inside, including Apple Carplay

The ‘robust’ styling theme continues with the brand-new interior, with the only thing that looks to be carried over being the steering wheel. Like most cars these days, it gets a ‘floating’ infotainment screen sitting on top of the center console. You’ll also find more…fashionable details than before like the chunky gear selector and modern controls for the air-conditioning system and mode select knob.

What will really stands out for a lot of people is the new Entune 3.0 multimedia system that now includes Apple CarPlay as standard alongside hands-free access to Amazon Alexa and WiFi connectivity. What’s missing, though, is support for Android Auto. You get a standard 7-inch touchscreen and an 8-inch screen as an option, with Toyota also adding an all-new available JBL audio system.

What other features are offered?

All RAV4s get eight-airbags and the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) as standard. The latter includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection; Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Automatic High Beam; Lane Tracing Assist and Road Sign Assist.

A little wider and a tad shorter

With the 5th generation RAV4, Toyota has switched from the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) C Platform that underpins the Prius and C-HR to the TNGA K version that is shared with the Camry and Avalon. That brings some changes to the proportions, as the new RAV4 rides on a 105.9-in. wheelbase that’s 1.2-in longer than before, yet it’s 0.2-in shorter at 180.9-in. It’s also 0.4-in wider at 73.0-in, while height drops by 0.2-in to 66.9-in.

Toyota claims the new unibody chassis is 57 percent more rigid than the outgoing version. Besides being the first TNGA model to get all-wheel drive, the RAV4 is the first Toyota to feature Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive with Rear Driveline Disconnect that can send 50 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels, plus distribute it to the left or right rear wheel for improved handling. This system will be offered on AWD-equipped Limited gas and Adventure grade models, while lower trim versions will make do without the torque vectoring, and the hybrid will get its own electronically driven AWD-i system.

Tell me about the engine offerings

There are no surprises under the hood, as Toyota has long abandoned the use of V6s in its compact SUV, but at the same time, oddly refuses to adopt a modern turbocharged four – at least at this stage, for the RAV4. As such, the 2019 model soldiers on with a 2.5-liter straight-four paired to an eight-speed automatic and a hybrid variant combining a 2.5-liter straight-four with an electric motor and a CVT. Toyota has yet to release performance figures for either of them, but the hybrid is expected to be more powerful as it will be used on the XSE Hybrid variant that will sport a firmer suspension.

Along with the XSE, the 2019MY RAV4 will offer Limited and Adventure grades. The Limited is your sole choice for a more luxurious take featuring among other things, 19-inch wheels and chrome accents, while the funkier Adventure will be available with an Ice Edge-colored roof paired with one of three exterior colors: Midnight Black Metallic or Blue Flame, and orange interior accents. Each grade will look a bit different in the details.

When will sales start?

The 2019 Toyota RAV will become available in the U.S. and Canada at the end of 2018, with hybrid models to follow right behind in early 2019. For information on pricing, we’ll probably have to wait until the final quarter of the year.

Updated gallery with live images from the NY Auto Show


more photos...
  • Day_Trader

    The front (headlights specifically) looks too CRV-ish to me

    • brn

      I was thinking it looked like a Ford.

      Kinda hard to tell anymore.

      • You’ll also find more…fashionable details than before like the chunky gear selector and modern controls for the air-conditioning system and mode select knob.

  • WG

    This looks good, much better than the CRV in my opinion.

    • RS6 Performance Wagon Lover

      Uh, no.

  • james.

    Finally, Toyota made an SUV that doesnt look like a tall hatch… like the CRV.

  • Ruel Lewis

    This is a step backwards in design imo.

    • Jason Miller

      Looks Jeep-ish to me.

      • marioGTI

        Kona front, Grand Cherokee back.

    • dumblikeyou2

      AARP Approved!

    • Sebastien

      Yep and that’s good news!

  • appleimmune

    I’d own one of these if they brought back the V6, loved that engine.. I have a 4 Runner, and absolutely love that vehicle, but this would be better for commuting around town.

  • Vanishing Boy

    Sure, it may looked awesome. But it doesn’t fit its image, it looks too brutish for what it can do. This styling fits more on the Global-specific Fortuner (body-on-frame SUV) than a CUV like the RAV4.

    It looks too deceiving.

    • accolade

      Now explain the deceiving part.

      • Vanishing Boy

        I think you haven’t read my complete statement above. A styling this brutish on a CUV does not match, at least Toyota could’ve offered a ‘soft’ low-range 4WD.

    • no25

      People like you always have to find something they hate. This brings the RAV4 back to its original roots when it was more of an off-road vehicle. And yes, it’s okay to change your image, bud.

      • Vanishing Boy

        Not quite enough, this model doesn’t even feature a switchable center differential lock. The 1st gen has that.

    • man

      I think you nailed it. My wife hates it, so she said don’t even think about it.

    • Althea Later

      So… you are unhappy because it is too aggressive-looking? So go buy something else. I think it looks awesome and relatively distinctive which says a lot for a class filled with generic look-alike vehicles. I’m just annoyed because now my 2017 RAV4 looks dated and probably will drop more in resale value.

  • Darius Fontenette

    Too many character lines and angles for me. Toyota’s new styling works well on their cars (new Camry, Corolla hatch) but the CUVs comes out very odd looking (this new RAV4, CH-R), imo.

  • Nordschleife

    Something about the proportions look a little off to me. Like it’s too long but overall it looks good.

  • PhilMcGraw

    The silver/white with the black roof and black rims looks really really good imo.

    Also, the interior is a huge step up from the current model. A full pano sunroof and what looks like both heated and cooled seats.

    Nice job Toyota. I think it’s a huge improvement and I like the rugged design. The rest of the segment seems to be going more car-like and this stands out as being more SUV inspired.

  • Navy ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    I like the outgoing model a lot better, but it was time for a full-redesign and I do see some Lexus and CR-V, as well.

  • Frank Yoster

    it has a jeep cherokee back end to it. but overall crazy improvement.!

  • Maykel

    Looks more like an SUV than a crossover. Overall better m

  • Yilmaz Yasar

    Toyota did what they wanted to do lexus

  • klowik

    It will be better if Toyota don’t skim on using LED in the headlights..


    looks like real suv

  • eb110americana

    Looks very much like, but actually slightly better than, the concept. I think they did a very good job. It’s just new enough not to look dated in a few years, but not so bizarre as to alienate the typical crossover buyer. The surfacing is actually quite intricate and the proportions are good. The interior looks nice and well sorted, so long as the real materials are okay. I am certain it will be a top seller for them, perhaps even THE top selling Toyota.

  • Six Thousand Times

    This looks OK. Mayve even good. With this and the new Corolla, is Toyota turning a styling corner?

  • Not bad. The interior is the highlight for me

  • Kate E

    It looks like a CUV for men now

  • enthusia

    i really like this. good job on the interior too. very appealing overall.

  • DM

    I see Jeep Cherokee and Nissan Rogue in the rear and sides. The interior is nice though.

  • StrangerGP

    Looks better than current gen, but messy from the side, that black bar in the c pillar ruins a lot of its looks. Also the car will be way less attractive will smaller base wheels.

  • TheHake

    I like it. The blue and white one is kind of a wink to the FJ Cruiser. I don’t like the luxury version but the sportier one looks nice.

  • why is the gear lever closer to the passenger than the driver?
    what’s wrong wih you toyota?

  • salamOOn

    interior is big step up…. but i dont like exterior…. its too aggressive for such a mainstream model, and also looks more like a mix of subaru and jeep.

  • Liam Paul

    not sure if I like it or hate it. i guess this one you need to see in person

  • Autoexperte

    the interior looks so much better


    Whats wrong with those renderings, do they made by student?


    Oh my, digital clock finally gone in 2018

  • Commonsenseonthefield

    Just because it looks different from its predecessor doesn’t make it good. There is nothing cohesive about this design, nor do I think it will appeal to the typical Rav4 buyer

    • appleimmune

      Well there are three former and current RAV owners in my family, and all of us like it.. A tiny pool I’d admit, but that’s saying something, especially given the fact we don’t agree on anything.

  • Brabusbus

    HUGE Improvement from the current model

  • Phillip Olivas

    This RAV4 is currently made in Japan and imported. This is a big factor in its reliability. I hope that the 2019 models are imported, also.

    • HaltestelleLuitpolthafen

      Where a vehicle is manufactured has absolutely nothing to do with its reliability. Nothing, literally not a thing. This is the biggest myth in the automotive industry.

      A majority North American RAV4s come from Ontario, Canada and they are still bulletproof. The components all come from the same supplier/location, it doesn’t matter where it is manufactured.

  • Mike Whitmell

    Good job!

  • krusshall

    This is kind of an odd direction for Toyota to take the RAV4. It’s almost like this should have been Gen 2, when the RAV4 was still trying to emulate the ruggedness of traditional SUVs but instead became more and more car-like. We’ll see how the buying public takes to the image of a baby 4Runner. It might be too truckish.

  • dumblikeyou2

    It’s eerily Subaru Crosstrek-esque in most angles. And then, just plain ugly in others. For Pete’s sake, the wheels in photo #31 are a total ripoff of the Corsstrek too.

  • Sebastien

    I really like it. First good looking rav4.

  • Only_Me

    Looks like they modified a Subaru

  • pjl35

    “with the only thing that looks to be carried over being the steering wheel.” That’s a different steering wheel guys…

  • Dennis James


  • no25

    Looks exactly like the render. You’re literally the biggest troll. Toyota did not screw up this one. It looks way better than the current model and will sell like crazy.

  • Jørn-tommy Skjellnes

    I see alitlle 4-runner i the design 🙂

  • man

    I liked it way better than the old one, especially interior. However, the wife did not. She said it looks ugly like a truck or jeep and seems to high. She thought the CRV is much better looking and there is no comparison. Me thinks Toyota has some issue with WAF.

  • john1168

    This looks a lot better and the off road version actually looks close to the renderings from earlier which is good. I like the new interior too. I don’t like the front of the red, white and charcoal grey in the pictures above. It’s not bad but I like the other version a lot better. I’m really interested in the torque vectoring all wheel drive system. It almost sounds like it has LSD’s in it rather than be brake based.

  • Sybill Julian

    I like the current model. This one looks like a ladder frame suv

  • Dennis Scipio

    This will no doubt sell like Hotcakes.

  • MarkoS

    Wow Toyota appears to have finally gotten really serious in this segment. For me it channels the original 4Runner in a way that is still modern. I was really hoping to see a version of that brilliant integrated rear bike rack, I suppose there is still hope. If Toyota has tackled their reliability issues in this segment and has made further advances in sound insulation, I will put this vehicle on my list. I can’t wait to see what else they has in store. I see some possible SUV of the year awards coming.

  • Honda NSX-R

    It’s like a RAV4 designed by Jeep. It’s kinda cool, I’d take it over a CR-V.

  • SteersUright

    Much, much better. While GM cant produce a desirable small, affordable CUV to save its life, Toyota introduces another likely-to-be best seller.
    The only slight demerits to me are:
    1. Where’s the TRD version? (a small off-roader would’ve been so cool!)
    2. The interior, though much improved, still looks a bit cheapo.
    3. Would love to see Toyota start producing some great engines maintaining efficiency but boosting power density.

  • MarketAndChurch

    It looks like this thing is targeting both Jeep and Subaru, as opposed to Honda and Nissan. Not a fan of the masculine approach. Looks nice in the soft-beige green though.

    • Honda NSX-R

      I can definitely see this target Jeep and Subaru now that you mention it.

  • Autoexperte
    • HaltestelleLuitpolthafen

      I bet it is going to feel chintzy and cheap, just like almost all other Toyota products.

      Toyotas in general are great vehicles, but they cut the most costs in their interior quality.

      • Autoexperte

        than you can buy a Lexus 😉
        Toyota quality (reliability) with high interior quality

  • Jay

    Looks good overall but the D-Pillar looks a bit lazy. Something about the window, roof and black trim just throws it off for me.

  • Bananarama

    This looks excellent. Looks rugged instead of soccer mom, where the rest of the segment is headed… Between the CR-V, CX-5, and this, there are some seriously good offerings in the segment.

    Now… why does the new Avalon looks like utter shit? Same for the Camry…

  • An Existing Person

    Appealing? More like appalling.

  • TheBelltower

    I can’t believe my eyes… finally a Toyota that doesn’t look completely amateurish!

  • GoofyGotKilos

    Hope there’s a way to get the Adventure with a body colored roof…

  • Moveon Libtards

    What happened to all those Tesla fanboy articles that were pushed on us several times a day?

    Oh, maybe this is why…

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Tesla Inc shares fell sharply again on Wednesday, reeling from a credit downgrade of the electric car maker by Moody’s Investors Service, federal probes of a fatal crash and concerns about Model 3 production.

    Shares tumbled 9 percent before ending down 7.7 percent at $257.78. On Tuesday, Tesla tumbled 8.2 percent to its lowest close in almost a year after the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) opened a field investigation into a fatal crash and vehicle fire in California on March 23.

    On Wednesday, a second federal regulator, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), said it was sending a team to California to investigate the crash.

    Late on Tuesday, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Tesla’s credit rating to B3 from B2, citing “the significant shortfall in the production rate of the company’s Model 3 electric vehicle.” It also noted “liquidity pressures due to its large negative free cash flow and the pending maturities of convertible bonds.”

    Tesla has $230 million in convertible bonds maturing in November 2018 and $920 million in March 2019.

    Moody’s said its negative outlook “reflects the likelihood that Tesla will have to undertake a large, near-term capital raise in order to refund maturing obligations and avoid a liquidity shortfall.”

    It said Tesla’s weekly production target is now 2,500 Model 3 vehicles by the end of March, down sharply from its year-earlier target of 5,000 per week by the end of 2017. Tesla’s weekly target for the end of June is 5,000.

    Tesla declined to comment on the downgrade. The company plans to provide an update on Model 3 production next week.

    Tesla shares have experienced big swings in the past, as worries about losses have vied with enthusiasm for Chief Executive Elon Musk’s ambitious plans.

    The sell-off has left Tesla’s stock market value at $44 billion, below General Motors Co’s $49 billion. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla has at times had a larger market value than GM, the largest U.S. automaker by vehicle sales.

    Since the end of February, the median analyst price target for Tesla has dipped by $10 to $356, about 37 percent higher than Wednesday’s price, according to Thomson Reuters data. Nomura Securities analyst Romit Shah has the highest Tesla price target, $500, or nearly double the current price. All the targets were set before the March 23 crash.

    In last week’s accident in which the Tesla struck a highway median, it was unclear if the vehicle’s automated control system called Autopilot was driving, the NTSB and police said.

    The 38-year-old driver of the Tesla died at a nearby hospital shortly after the crash.

  • fabri99

    Not bad, not at all.

  • Mike Gonzalez

    VW Tiguan meets Lexus NX, not bad for Toyota’s standards. Lately they seem to have found a mojo in the design department

  • Subi-Rubicon1

    Looks much better than the current model, but as many have said here it looks like a trim level of the Honda CR-V.

  • getoffme

    The Rav4 is out for blood. That Adventure grade looks well executed.

  • Looks like a derivative Jeep Cherokee and not a good version of it either…this will look dated in a few years…

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