Review: 2019 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser 2WD

Is it just us, or does it feel like Toyota’s latest RAV4 skipped an entire generation with its bold new looks, more powerful engines and standard safety and technology features?

Proportionally speaking, it’s longer in the wheelbase but shorter overall. Which does two things for it; not only that it looks less gawky, but it also lines up better against its rivals such as the Hyundai Tucson, Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, Mazda CX-5 and so on.

Make no mistake, the 2019 RAV4 is a mammoth improvement over its predecessors, and plenty of people would agree, seeing as there is about a four to six month wait list to buy one. Didn’t think you’d ever read wait-list and RAV4 in the same sentence ever, did you? Neither did we, but after spending a week with the 2WD Cruiser variant, it didn’t take long for us to see why it’s gained so much popularity.

If you’ve never really given the Toyota RAV4 much thought, and you’re in the market for a vehicle in that particular segment, you’re going to want to disregard everything you’ve previously thought was wrong or ungainly with the previous model, because the new one is definitely good enough to change your perception.

Jumping into the cabin of the fifth-generation RAV4, you’ll find quite an impressive interior. The RAV4 is quite spacious inside and has plenty of room for rear passengers and cargo. The boot will offer you 542L of space with the second row in place, and expand to 580L when those seats have dropped down. On the subject of seats, the 10-way powered driver’s seat and powered lumbar support is a seriously comfortable place to be, in fact seating anywhere in the fifth generation RAV4 is terrific, paired together with the cushy suspension and sound deadening it makes the SUV an exceptional daily driver. Both driver and passenger in the front row are treated to heated front seats, and for those looking to utilise the RAV4 as a family car, you’ll be impressed with the second row space on offer in terms of knee, leg and toe room, complete with a centre folding armrest and cup holders, and ISOFIX anchorage points on the two outboard seats.

The quality of interior materials has improved dramatically over the previous generation, and now the cabin is brimming with soft-touch, high quality surfaces and a much more pleasing aesthetic design. The dash and door tops are covered in a stitched faux-leather padding which looks great and feels soft to the touch and the addition of ambient lighting builds onto the premium feel inside the cabin.

Sitting on top of the dash you’ll find an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen outlined by a perimeter of fixed buttons as the home of your media system, offering your normal bluetooth and satellite navigation with live traffic updates. Given just how much everything else up to this point was impressing us with the RAV4, this was a bit of a let down. The graphics overall seem a bit dated compared to other vehicles in the class, and the controls on the left side of the screen require a little extra reaching from the driver’s seat. Try not to get the sunlight onto the screen though as it will be near impossible to see what’s on display. The nine-speaker JBL sound system definitely adds some positives to into the equation though, as does the wireless charging pad located in front of the gear shifter and the five USB ports to keep all occupants devices charged for a road trip. To give credit where it’s due, Toyota has finally caught up with the times, and the RAV4 Cruiser now offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

Powering the 2019 RAV4 2WD Cruiser is a 2.0-litre petrol engine that develops 127kW and 203Nm paired to a seven-speed automatic. It’s no powerhouse, but it certainly feels capable when you are just doing the school or grocery shop run, or even cruising along the highway. The only time you’ll find the engine feels a tad underwhelming is when you need to put your foot down (for whatever reason you see fit) like climbing a bit of a steep mountain road, where the engine noise can be quite annoying and feel like not a lot is happening at the same time. Fuel consumption is claimed at 6.5L/100km, which is a bit less than the 7.2L/100km we got in our week of testing. Still a great result for the size of the vehicle.

The RAV4 includes seven airbags, AEB (with day and night pedestrian detection), blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist and rear cross-traffic assist. There is also a reversing camera with guidelines, front and rear parking sensors as well as a surround-view camera. Another great feature worthy of mentioning is the speed sign detection, that worked an absolute treat!

As a family wagon it is seriously appealing and needless to say were very impressed by the standard fit creature comforts, the spacious, upscale interior and the comfortable, easy drive. It’s a vehicle makes a lot of sense for a lot of people, whether you have kids of all ages, or looking to start a family and need that vehicle with an extra bit of space and ease of getting in and out.

The 2WD CVT Cruiser starts at $39,140, excluding on-road costs, and does come with Toyota’s new five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Capped-price servicing will see you hand over $210 for the first five services with intervals spaced at 12 months/15,000km.

Full Spec Sheet of the fifth generation RAV4 can be found here.

  • 8/10
    Value for Money (Price, Packaging and Practicality) - 8.5/10 - 8/10
  • 7.5/10
    Driving Dynamics (Engine, Chassis and Drivetrain) - 7.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Exterior Styling - 8.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Interior Styling and Technology - 7.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    X-Factor - 7.5/10
7.8/10

Summary

It’s been said that to stay relevant you have to reinvent. The fifth-generation Rav4 has done just that with its bold new styling and an all-round refined approach to the everyday. It is without a doubt a more grown-up approach compared to the previous generation Toyota SUVs that came out in the 1990s. It’s now a proper family hauler with all the right equipment, aesthetics and appeal for today’s ultra-competitive SUV market.

What we liked:

Those bold new looks.

The overall ease of use – the driving, comfort of the seats, great visibility and on-road manners.

Standard tech and safety inclusions are a big winner for the new RAV4

What we didn’t like:

Multimedia interface is a bit of a let down.

The 2.0-litre motor can feel a bit lacklustre at times. 

If you want one, you’re probably going to have to wait a while. 

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