The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is in Toyota dealers now

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid First Drive Review

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is in Toyota dealers now
The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is in Toyota dealers now

The Toyota RAV4 was the original ‘Sports Utility Vehicle’ (SUV). Now in its fifth generation, Toyota has reinvented the RAV4 upon the exciting new TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture). The new RAV4 is arriving in Ireland at a time when Toyota Ireland is predicting that in 2019, 80% of their new car sales will be hybrid. The brand has already said that they will no longer sell diesel cars. The new RAV4 will be sold in Ireland exclusively as a petrol electric, self-charging hybrid. Caroline travelled to the Catalonia region of Spain to put the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to the test on and off road!

Styling

TNGA has given Toyota designers more freedom to design a stylish vehicle. The new Toyota RAV4 now has a more individual look for the segment. It is an altogether leaner and more angular SUV than the model it replaces, with more than a hint of the utilitarian design of the larger Land Cruiser. In Ireland, 17” alloys and LED headlamps come as standard, while Sport models are available with a bi-tone paint option.

Interior

The Toyota RAV4 has a new interior with a focus on improved quality and design. The dashboard has an attractive, clean horizontal design with soft touch materials and satin chrome features to add interest. Dials and switches are easy to operate, with a 7" or 8” touchscreen in the centre of the dash. The RAV4 is missing some of the outright glam and plushness of the interior of the smaller Toyota C-HR compact crossover. But in fairness, the plainer cabin of the RAV4 makes more sense with the tougher, utilitarian look of the outside of the vehicle.

The interior of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The interior of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Practicality

The wheelbase has been increased by 30 mm to create more interior space in the new RAV4. This is a five seat SUV with competitive accommodation for this class of vehicle. There's about 40 mm extra width for rear seat passengers and more spacious rear footwells. The opening angle of the rear doors has also been improved to make it easier to access child seats and get in and out. Boot space is up 41 litres to 542 litres with a wide opening making it a practical space to work with. There is a height-adjustable, two-level deck board that can be reversed when dirty items need to be carried.

Engines

In Ireland the new RAV4 goes on sale exclusively as a self-charging hybrid. In some markets the new Toyota RAV4 is also offered with a 2.0-litre petrol. The 2019 RAV4 has a new, improved 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain. There’s more power and greater efficiency. Front wheel drive models now have 218hp, while all wheel drive models have 222hp. The manufacturer quotes fuel consumption of 4.5l/100km on the NEDC 2 cycle and 5.6l/100km under new WLTP. Power is put to the road through a CVT automatic gearbox.

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid goes on sale in Ireland priced from €35,900
The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid goes on sale in Ireland priced from €35,900

On the road

The new RAV4 has a more rigid body and lower centre of gravity with every component now lighter and located lower down in the vehicle for improved comfort and driving dynamics. The response from the electric power steering has also been improved by moving the assist motor from the column to the rack. There's a better driving position and on the road, the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid immediately feels more fluid and engaging. The car handles confidently through corners with more natural and progressive steering. Refinement in town is excellent, with the hybrid operating in near silence. During our test drive, the new RAV4 was comfortable and stable over a variety of road surfaces, though on the motorway we did notice some wind noise from around the mirrors.

Toyota engineers have worked to reduce noise from the CVT gearbox in this new generation of RAV4. However to this reviewer the noise from the CVT gearbox is still a bit of a bugbear, especially when you try to gather speed quickly. Fuel consumption averaged out at about 7.0l/100km during my test drive across town, motorway and country.

We also had the opportunity to test the new Toyota RAV4 AWD model quite extensively off-road. It coped well with steep inclines and declines (without a hill descent control) and slippy, muddy conditions.

The new RAV4 has more interior space than the outgoing model and a larger boot
The new RAV4 has more interior space than the outgoing model and a larger boot

Equipment

Toyota Ireland is selling the new RAV4 in five grades: Aura, Luna, Sol, Sport and Platinum. Standard features on Aura models (from €35,900) will include 17” alloys, LED lights front and rear, dual exhaust tailpipes, black roof rails, electric parking brake, automatic lights, 7” multimedia system, dual zone climate control with rear vents, folding mirrors, driving mode selector and rear view camera. Toyota Safety Sense 2 is also standard, adding safety equipment such as automatic high beam, driver attention alert, eCall emergency call system, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, road sign assist and lane trace assist.

The Luna model (from €37,590) will add dark grey painted upper front grille, silver front underrun, chrome interior trim, auto wipers, power tailgate, Smart Entry & Start, 8” multimedia system, front fog lamps, and front and rear parking sensors.

The Sol (from €39,590) adds 18” alloys, rear privacy glass, heated front seats, leather upholstery and satellite navigation.

Sport (from €40,990) adds 18” machine-finished alloy wheels, bitone roof, projector LED headlamps, painted lower bumpers and mouldings, painted front fog lamp surrounds, unique sport leather upholstery, black headlining, driver’s electric seat adjustment and lumbar support, and paddle gear shift.

Platinum (pricing tbc) features include 18” alloy wheels, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, chrome outer door handles, leather seats, grey headlining, memory driver seat adjustment, luggage net and heated steering wheel.

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is built on a new platform and uses a 2.5-litre self charging hybrid powertrain
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is built on a new platform and uses a 2.5-litre self-charging hybrid powertrain

Pricing

The new RAV4 goes on sale in Ireland priced from €35,900. Luna is available from €37,590. Sol is available from €39,590. Sport is available from €40,990. Pricing for the Platinum model is to be confirmed. Prices quoted here are for FWD models. We have no confirmation on pricing yet for AWD models. It will be announced closer to when first AWD models arrive in April.

Rivals

The Toyota RAV4 has many rivals including the Honda CR-V Hybrid, Ford Kuga, Mazda CX-5, Renault Koleos, Peugeot 5008 and Skoda Kodiaq.

Verdict

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid arrives in Ireland at a time when car buyers are beginning to look beyond diesel, while Toyota Ireland continues to back hybrid across their range of passenger cars and SUVs. For this new generation, the Toyota RAV4 has been completely reimagined. This new RAV4 makes a much stronger statement, backed up by improved interior quality, the latest technology and safety features, an improved hybrid powertrain and a more enjoyable drive. The new RAV4 Hybrid does not come to market cheap, but is a much improved vehicle and an interesting step away from the classic diesel SUV.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is in Irish Toyota dealerships now.

Caroline Kidd