2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWD
The interesting thing about the new-generation RAV4—driven here in the Adventure AWD trim package—is that although it, like its predecessors, has what is arguably a car platform underpinning it, it, unlike those of the past few versions, has a design approach that is no longer either car-like or sharply somewhat futuristic (its brethren, the current generation Prius, has the sharply all-in futuristic styling): this RAV4, whether it has the Adventure trim or not, has the appearance of a serious truck-like vehicle, taking design cues from its brawnier kin, like the Highlander.
Indeed, speaking of this version, RAV4 chief engineer Yoshikazu Saeki said, “We came to define ‘Adventure & Refinement’ as the design concept for the fifth generation.” The adventure is on the outside; the refinement on the inside.
Although it carries over some of the edges of the fourth generation, there are big gestures, especially the front fascia which has a hexagon for the grille opening atop what appears to be a pair of stacked trapezoids, which makes the compact CUV seem exceedingly planted.
At the rear this geometry is somewhat echoed, with the roof line and the bottom of the backlight forming another trapezoid and the bumper and skidplate below are a set of trapezoids.
On the body side another trapezoid above the sill and two creases in the sheet metal that appear solidly robust.
The inside elements and controls are both clean and chunky, providing a look of purpose though with—at least in the trim package in question—some unexpected color palette selections, such as orange for trim accents and the thread used for stitching. It is interesting that the cabin seems to be more, well, “designed” than has been the rule in the past. It is not that the earlier models didn’t have their own particular cues, but that in this case it seems as though the interior design was performed by an interior designer who might also be working on architectural projects, not crossover utilities.
The vehicle is powered by a 203-hp 2.5-liter four that is mated to an eight-speed automatic. If anything really surprised me about the vehicle was that it almost felt like the transmission was a CVT rather than a step-gear package.
However, what’s interesting is that there is what is called the “Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive with Rear Driveline Disconnect.” Know that the RAV4 is a front-drive vehicle but that this feature (which is part of the AWD package for the Limited gas-powered [there is a hybrid RAV4, which we’ll not get to here] and Adventure models) is not unlike the slogan for the Certs breath mint (or is it a candy mint) TV ads of yore: it is two in one. That is, power can be sent to the rear wheels when needed to supplement the front wheels, and the torque-vectoring aspect means that more of that power can be directed to the left or right rear wheel, as needed. That’s the AWD part. Then the “Rear Driveline Disconnect” portion means that when there is no need for AWD—like when the road surface is dry and you’re just cruising along—then ratchet-type dog clutches kick in and the rear axle driveshaft stops rotating.
While I don’t necessarily agree with the notion that if a lot of people do something that it is probably a good thing, there is something to be said for the RAV4 that may not be realized by most people.
I suspect that most people—at least those who would proffer an opinion—would say that the best-selling vehicle in the Toyota lineup is the Camry, and if not the Camry, the Corolla.
But through October, there were 362,121 RAV4s delivered in the U.S. Camry? 285,058. Corolla? 256,356.
Yes, the RAV4—Adventure or otherwise—is a good thing.
Although the RAV4 has plenty of heritage in the small crossover segment, competition has gotten a whole lot tougher, so Toyota has made significant changes to the fourth-generation model.
Nowadays in the U.S. market, vehicle manufacturers pretty much are all committed to producing crossover utility vehicles rather than their predecessor type, the sport utility vehicle.
A young(ish) guy that I’ve known for a number of years, a man who spent the better part of his career writing for auto buff books and who is a car racer on the side, mentioned to me that his wife has a used Lexus ES Hybrid.