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4 Changes Toyota Must Make To Keep the New 2019 RAV4 Number One

Here is our list of what Toyota must do to keep the RAV4 in a top sales position as it heads into its next generation.


The Toyota RAV4 is getting very long in the tooth. The current generation has been around since 2013, which means the RAV4 for 2019 will be way past the usual five-year maximum for a major overhaul. One is coming, and all indications are it will be for 2019, but be it that year or 2020, we know what Toyota needs to do to keep the RAV4 the top-seller it is. Here’s our list.

2019 Toyota RAV4 – Apple Car Play and Android Auto
Surprised that our first item is an infotainment capability? You shouldn’t be. We receive comments under Toyota stories on a regular basis about how Toyota fans are being driven away from the brand for being one of the only automakers – and the only large automaker – to not have this capability. If you have not used the technology, let us explain quickly what you are missing. You are missing outstanding Nav at no added cost – that never needs to be updated. You are missing outstanding app integration at no added cost and commercial-free music. Scout is not even close to acceptable, and Toyota knows it. The new Avalon is moving towards smartphone integration that works. We hope the RAV4 has this new capability.

2019 Toyota RAV4 – Safety
What? Safety? Isn’t the RAV4 a Top Safety Pick? Yes, it is, but that is no longer even close to the bar. The RAV4 flunked its passenger side small frontal overlap test with the lowest possible rating. That no longer cuts it in this class. The RAV4 needs a completely new structure and the TNGA platform will take it to the level it needs to be. The headlights of the RAV4 are only rated Acceptable on top trims and Marginal on all others. If Toyota wants to earn the top scores for safety, as many of its competitors now do, it needs to use headlights like the ones on its old Prius V, which were rated Good.

2019 Toyota RAV4 – Drivetrain and Fuel Economy
In case you have not noticed, the RAV4 has become one of the least fuel-efficient compact crossovers on the market. The AWD RAV4 has a an EPA Combined estimate of 25 MPG and the CR-V AWD is at 29 MPG. The Forester is at 28 MPG. The next RAV4 needs to be at 30 MPG to stay in the mix and a CVT transmission is just one of the technologies Toyota has yet to tap.

We doubt Toyota has a new small turbo to go into the next RAV4 and that is a shame. The small turbos in the CR-V and Hyundai Tucson are outstanding. We suspect that the new RAV4 will have the same 2.5-liter engine the new Camry uses. Good, maybe even great, but not at the level those two engines are. Fingers crossed we are wrong.

2019 Toyota RAV4 – Features
Toyota dropping leather is going to cause problems with some buyers. New car smell is 90% seating materials. SofTex does not smell as good. A heated steering wheel is now widely available in this class, for example in the Mazda CX-5. If Toyota wants to keep the RAV4 “down” to avoid overlapping the Lexus NX it will mean buyers will find the important features in other brands they are cross-shopping. Toyota needs a better top-trim.

Conclusion – Next Generation RAV4 Needs
Toyota has outstanding momentum, perhaps the largest and arguably best dealer network in America, and includes 2 years of maintenance with every RAV4. Toyota certainly has a great value proposition and the next RAV4 will be much better. We look forward to seeing how many of our wish-list items make it into the 2019.


Mark Day (not verified)    February 21, 2018 - 2:48PM

No mention of driving dynamics or performance – "changes" cited won't improve on boring, appliance-like transportation. CVT auto zzzzzzzzzzz - resembling the trans in my tractor.

Put a big battery pack in the new RAV4 with combined/hybrid 270hp/high torque and I could be convinced to let loose of my 2012 RAV4 V6s. If I was currently in the market for an SUV I'd be looking at a Kia Sportage turbo or a Kia Sorento V6.

Upscale, I'd go for a Porsche Macan or BMW X3. Not all of us live for fuel mileage, the current craze (mandated), along with illogical wheel/tire sizes.

Liz Scott (not verified)    February 24, 2018 - 7:30AM

Toyota's Rav4 Electric Vehicle (EV) is a must.
Toyota must develop a Rav4 that run only on electricity, with zero CO2 emissions

Joe (not verified)    February 28, 2018 - 12:40PM

So much wrong in one article. Lets look at tome facts:

Headlights -- Acceptable rating for the LED headlights on the RAV4, highest possible rating

Heated steering wheel - Standard on Platinum trim and Adventure trim with cold weather package

Apple/Android integration -- only allow you to use their native mapping applications, Apple maps/Google Maps, which nobody uses.

MPG - the Hybrid version of the RAV, only $800 more on the sticker and available in four different trims, gets 30 highway, 34 city, 32 combined for best in class ratings. And by the by, turbo's break, which is why Toyota doesn't like to put them into cars that have the highest reliability ratings in the industry.

Softex vs. Leather -- look up what you get in any new BMW or Mercedes. Unless you are paying $4,000 for an upgrade, you get artificial seating.

Yeah, we hope the 19 is improved, but good God, get your facts right.

John Goreham    March 1, 2018 - 10:56AM

In reply to by Joe (not verified)

Thanks for your input Joe. So, just to be sure we are reading your comment correctly, our "facts" in this opinion story were correct on the headlights, and on the seating material, and Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility, and engine. You take issue with the opinions we then offer, correct? Android Auto has about 9 million reviews (and hundreds of millions of users) and a 4.5 rating at the G Play store. But your fact is that "nobody uses it."

David G (not verified)    March 1, 2018 - 11:41PM

In reply to by John Goreham

I agree with all of the author's (John's) comments. I own a 2003 Maxima and the original Bose head unit was starting to cut in and out in 2015 and I replaced it with an aftermarket Pioneer with Apple CarPlay and I don't know how I would now live without it. Apple maps was really poor when it first launched, but has gotten much better in recent years and I use it every time I travel. My old Garmin GPS hasn't come out of it's pouch since. I also love the phone, text to voice-voice to text, iPod and Amazon Music capability. So many cars these days are coming out with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto which is great. Manufacturers need to stick with designing cars and leave the infotainment to the experts. I would like to see Toyota step up their game and offer CarPlay in it's next RAV4. When the RAV4 was redesigned for 2013, I took one for a test drive and was really disappointed in the lack of power. Almost dangerous trying to move in with traffic from a standing start. Last year, I took a 2017 RAV4 hybrid for a test drive and the power is much better than the gas only version. Now for technology: while the premium head unit seemed easy enough to use, albeit with dated looking graphics, I had to comment to the salesman that my next car will have to have CarPlay or I won't consider it. (I'm hopeful that my Maxima will continue to give me many more years of service before I get to that point.) I'm also not enamored by the faux leather in the RAV4. At that price point, it should offer leather, a power passenger seat and rear seat air vents. I wasn't able to test the headlights, but I've seen the reviews. Toyota's Safety Sense is a big selling point, and standard in at least the XLE and Limited Hybrid trims. (I'm not sure about the other trims.) When I am ready for my next vehicle, the RAV4 hybrid will still be at the top of my list - I just hope they have CarPlay by then.

Agnes Agner (not verified)    January 20, 2019 - 6:02PM

In reply to by David G (not verified)

I have the 2019 Rax4...I love almost everything about this vehicle...Yes it does have CarPlay...
Bicycling is my absolute favorite Hobby...I cannot find anyone to install a Hitch for my Bike Rack....U Haul checked
out my Vehicle thinking the 2018 Hitch would fit on the 2019, Wrong!!!
Toyota, if you want to keep the Customers, come up with something soon...

GaryF (not verified)    July 8, 2018 - 8:34AM

I was looking at the 1.5 turbo-4 in the "outstanding" current CR-V, then I ran into all the reports of an oil dilution problem that Honda will admit to, but has not found any fix for to date. No thanks. Right now waiting on the 2019 RAV-4 or an AWD version of the new Prius V.

Dennis Lamont (not verified)    March 10, 2019 - 11:13AM

1. I am old and disconnected and driving a leased 2019 Rav4 LE
2. We run a 25 cents/minute flip phone for emergency use only, bluetooth works fine
3. I need a bracket to mount my $100 garmin in front of that large useless screen
so I know where I am and which direction I am going
4. Navigation is available in many other SUVs and will be a serious consideration
on our next vehicle

Joe Cantalupo (not verified)    August 28, 2019 - 10:03AM

The apps are hit and miss. Love the Alex app but have to reload it every time I get in car. It also must have entune 3.0 running for it to work. This is also hit and miss. The suv makes a weird sound when you back up sounds like a hovercraft. For the money I payed it Should have come with electric passenger seat and memory for the seats. Other than that the SUV gets great gas mileage handles like a dream