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2018 vs. 2019 Toyota RAV4: What’s the Difference?

  • The 2019 Toyota RAV4 gets a major update with a new look and a new chassis.

  • Tons of standard connectivity and safety technology make the new 2019 Toyota RAV4 a competitive crossover.

  • The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is bigger and more modern than the aging 2018 model it’s replacing.

The Toyota RAV4 is one of the SUVs that kicked off the meteoric rise of compact crossovers as one of America’s favorite modes of transportation. It’s Toyota’s best-selling model, which is saying a lot since Toyota is one of the biggest auto manufacturers in the world. With such widespread popularity, there’s a lot riding on the all-new 2019 RAV4 that was unveiled early in 2018 and is set to hit dealerships by the end of the year. See the 2019 Toyota RAV4 models for sale near you

Based on what we know about the new 2019 RAV4 so far, here’s how it compares to the outgoing 2018 Toyota RAV4See the 2018 Toyota RAV4 models for sale near you

Exterior

The all-new 2019 RAV4 rides on the same new global platform that underpins the new Toyota Camry and the Toyota Avalon along with the new Lexus ES. That means the new RAV4 is bigger than the previous model in both length and width. Toyota says the new body of the RAV4 is 57 percent stiffer and sits a half-inch higher than the outgoing generation.

As for styling, the RAV4 has an all-new look. It’s a bit boxier with a flatter nose, giving it more of a traditional SUV silhouette, but the styling is anything but old school. The new model retains a similar narrow upper lip and horizontal headlights like the 2018 RAV4, but with a much more prominent grille in the center. The body of the 2018 RAV4 was rather plain, while the new one is much more sculpted with interesting character lines throughout. Also, like with the new Camry, which trim you choose can totally change the look of the RAV4, especially in the front.

We think the styling is a major improvement for the new RAV4. It went from a pragmatic, but unexciting crossover that blends into traffic to a bold new look that’s much more interesting to look at.

Interior

The new RAV4’s larger size means more space on the inside for passengers and cargo. We don’t know the exact interior dimensions of the 2019 RAV4 yet, but we’re expecting more space all around than the 2018 model. Both models have five seats and a decent amount of cargo space to boot.

The interior design of the 2019 RAV4 has a more premium look and feel compared to the 2018 RAV4. Like the exterior, the look of the interior can change quite a bit based on your trim of choice. For example, the Adventure grade has a more rugged interior with orange trim, while the Limited model has a more premium, upscale interior.

Mechanicals

There are a few lingering mysteries about the 2019 Toyota RAV4’s powertrain, but we know the gas-powered model will have a good old-fashioned naturally aspirated inline four under the hood. There’s a hybrid model that will hit dealers in early 2019, but we don’t know the details on its powertrain quite yet, either. Here’s what we do know:

2018 RAV4 Engines

  • 2.5-liter inline four; 176 horsepower, 172 lb-ft of torque; 23 miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg in combined driving

  • 2.5-liter inline four hybrid; 194 net system hp; 34 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/32 mpg combined

2019 RAV4 Engines

  • 2.5-liter inline four; 202 hp (estimated)

  • 2.5-liter inline four hybrid

It sounds like the two engine options in the 2019 model will be revised versions of what’s currently offered in the 2018 RAV4. Our 202 hp estimate is based on what we’ve heard about the new engine getting a 15 percent increase in power. Toyota is also promising better performance and fuel economy for the hybrid models, but we don’t have any official numbers as of writing. Something else we know about the new RAV4 Hybrid is that the battery will be moved under the back seat rather than under the cargo area where it is in the 2018 models. That means, in theory, cargo space will be identical for hybrid and non-hybrid 2019 RAV4 models.

The RAV4 comes standard with front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive will also be available. Toyota is making a big revision to its available AWD system on the 2019 RAV4. It will be the first RAV4 available with electronic rear driveline disconnect, which means only the front wheels are being powered when AWD isn’t needed, which helps improve fuel economy for AWD-equipped models.

It’s also available with a torque-vectoring AWD system, which is a first for the RAV4. The torque-vectoring system improves handling while AWD is in use, and it can send as much as 50 percent of the engine’s power to the rear wheels.

Another cool mechanical perk of the 2019 RAV4 is that the Adventure grade is now more than just an appearance package. Opting for the more rugged trim of the RAV4 gives you Multi-Terrain Select, which gives you different AWD modes for mud, snow, sand or rocks, all of which can be selected at the turn of a dial.

Technology

The technological upgrade to the 2019 Toyota RAV4 is significant. For starters, the 2019 model has the new generation of the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) technology suite. The 2018 model comes standard with the TSS-P system which gives you a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning with steering assist and automatic high beams. The new system in the 2019 RAV4 includes all of that plus road sign assist, which can detect road signs, and display warnings based on what it sees, and lane-keeping assist. Lane-keeping assist works together with adaptive cruise control to determine where the lanes are based on road lines and the activity of the car in front of you.

A new Entune 3.0 infotainment system is standard in the 2019 RAV4, which comes with Wi-Fi connect powered by Verizon, Amazon Alexa digital assistant and Apple CarPlay connectivity. Unfortunately, Android Auto isn’t available.

Pricing

Even though the new 2019 RAV4 is expected to hit dealers in the next month or so, pricing still hasn’t been announced for the vehicle yet. What we do know, is that the 2018 RAV4 has a starting MSRP of $24,660, and we’re expecting the new model to also come in right around the $25,000 mark.

The most affordable 2018 RAV4 hybrid you can get is the LE Hybrid model, which starts at $27,385. There’s been a trend in Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus where the prices of new hybrid models are getting closer to their conventional counterparts. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the starting price of the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid come in under the $27,000 mark.

Conclusion

The outgoing generation of the Toyota RAV4 had a good run, but it was starting to get a little long in the tooth by the time it hit the 2018 model. With the huge revisions in styling, interior and technology for the all-new 2019 model, it’s an upgrade that keeps the RAV4 toward the front of the competitive compact crossover segment. Find a Toyota RAV 4 for sale

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