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.