The Toyota RAV4 started the compact crossover-SUV segment four generations of the vehicle ago, and now a new fifth-gen RAV4 has taken the stage at the New York International Auto Show. This new RAV4 is more robust, more capable, and smarter than any RAV4 before it.

Toyota says the RAV4 is its best-selling vehicle in North America, eclipsing even the ubiquitous Camry as the top choice among consumers. Yet the company has noted that the polarizing styling, lack of true off-pavement credibility, and lackluster acceleration of the current-generation model are all complaint points among reviewers and consumers alike.

This new-generation RAV4 adds more engine power, while getting better fuel economy and more off-road capability. Notable design elements include a stronger front fascia and nose flanked by more robust fenders to create a more SUV-like look.

The 2019 RAV4 is a bit lower and wider in appearance than the outgoing model, with a 1.2-inch (3 cm) longer wheelbase (now 105.9 inches, 269cm) and 0.4-inch (1 cm) expansion in width (now 180.9 inches, 459.5cm); despite a slight shrinkage in length (now 181.1 inches/460cm, down 0.2 inches/0.5cm). The new 2019 RAV4's design is based on Toyota's TNGA K Platform for better mobility in manufacture.

The new platform adds a multi-link rear suspension to the RAV4 as well as 57 percent more rigidity to the vehicle. Ground clearance is now over half an inch higher (1.3 cm).

The 2019 RAV4 has a significantly revamped drivetrain and includes both a gasoline and a gasoline-hybrid version. Each outputs more power than before and is mated a newly-developed transmission. A new dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel drive system is available for the RAV4 with a rear driveline disconnect for better fuel economy and on-road performance under normal driving conditions.

The gasoline model utilizes a redesigned 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, as before, but adds better combustion technology and a more intelligent variable valve control system for better thermal efficiency to reduce energy losses. The new 2.5L now has a 40 percent thermal efficiency rating. Toyota has not yet released performance numbers for the new RAV4's engine, but says that power output is improved over the previous generation.

Attached to the upgraded 2.5L engine is a new eight-speed automatic transmission with direct lock-up in gears two through eight to eliminate torque converter losses. The added gears (two more than the previous generation) improve fuel economy and performance responses for the vehicle.

The standard gasoline models will have two all-wheel drive (AWD) systems available. The standard option will be the AWD system found on the previous generation of the vehicle, which does not disconnect the rear axle. A new AWD system, called Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive with Rear Driveline Disconnect, can send up to 50 percent of torque to the rear axle and distribute it between wheels as needed, improving handling and reducing slippage. The new AWD system can also disconnect the rear axle entirely for better on-road performance and fuel economy, using the world's first ratchet-type dog clutch on the wheel shafts to stop rotation of the driveshaft. This new AWD system will be available on the 2019 RAV4 Limited and Adventure models.

For the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid model, the same 2.5L engine is used, with slight detuning for MPG improvement, and an electric rear drive system as in the previous generation RAV4 Hybrid. Toyota calls this AWD-i, but has increased available rear wheel torque by 30 percent more than the previous-gen AWD-i. An electronically-controlled, automated system determines how much torque to feed to the rear wheels on the RAV4 Hybrid according to driving conditions.

New to the RAV4 will be a new XSE Hybrid sport model, which adds several exterior accents and color choices.

Fuel economy figures for the new 2019 Toyota RAV4 have not yet been released. Toyota says they will be released, along with engine performance numbers, closer to the vehicle's launch.

For the interior, designers aimed for a more modern, upscale appeal. The console's volume has been increased for more storage and technology capability, adding side-by-side cupholders (versus tandem in the previous generation) and more space on the rubberized, open tray for small item storage. Both legroom and shoulder room are improved in the rear seating and 60/40 split-fold rear seats remain standard in the RAV4.

The 2019 RAV4 will come equipped with Toyota's Entune 3.0 infotainment as standard, which includes Wi-Fi Connect (Verizon), Amazon Alexa hands-free access, and Apple CarPlay compatibility. A 7-inch touchscreen is the focus of this new generation of the infotainment system and can be upgraded to an 8-inch screen in most RAV4 trim models. Two USB ports are standard and up to five can be had in total, depending on package options for the 2019 RAV4. Qi wireless charging is also available.

An all-new JBL audio system is available for the 2019 RAV4 in some trim points, adding 11 audio speakers on 8 channels with 800 watts of power.

Standard safety tech comes from the latest Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 system, adding active safety technologies to the vehicle. These include a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, lane departure alert and intervention, and automatic high beams. Also included are new Toyota technologies like Lane Tracing Assist, which recognizes vehicle lanes on the highway and works in conjunction with cruise control to maintain the center of the lane through steering assistance. Road Sign Assist can identify traffic signs like stop, yield, do not enter, etc. and display warnings to the driver based on those.

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 will go on sale in the third quarter of 2018 with the RAV4 Hybrid model being available in the fourth quarter.

Source: Toyota

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