Good daily driver. Easy-to-use controls. Plenty of tech features.
Comfortable Ride Quality
Cargo & Passenger Space
Lackluster Power (At Times)
Cost Jumps Fast w/ Options
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 gets a redesign and the Adventure trim is the coolest looking in the small SUV’s lineup. It comes with extra exterior cladding plus an upgraded all-wheel-drive system that includes torque-vectoring technology for off-pavement use. This model is for those who want to get away from the city on the weekends and do some exploring in the wilderness. It’s not an extreme off-road animal, but functional enough for fun activities like camping and kayaking.
This week, we’ve been driving the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure with all-wheel drive.
The RAV4 is completely redesigned for the new model year, riding on Toyota’s TNGA-K platform for a lower center of gravity versus the previous RAV4. Now in its fifth-generation, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 comes in both gas and hybrid variants. Toyota’s comprehensive Safety Sense 2.0 package joins a host of connectivity features like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri Eyes Free, and Apple CarPlay. Trim levels for gasoline models include LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, and Limited.
Features & Options: Comfort & Safety
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWD ($32,900) comes standard with a power liftgate, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable driver’s seat, simulated leather upholstery (SofTex), and an upgraded interior. It also features automatic LED headlights, foglights, heated mirrors, push-button start, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, and additional USB ports.
The 2019 RAV4 is standard with the aforementioned Safety Sense 2.0 package, which includes a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection; Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Automatic High Beam, and Lane Tracing and Road Sign Assist. Our tester was also equipped with blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert.
What Is The Toyota RAV4 Adventure Trim?
The Adventure trim adds some special styling features: 19-inch alloy wheels, fender flares, and taller roof rails, for example. There’s an enhanced rearview camera, embossed seating details, and an upgraded driver information display with an eight-inch touchscreen. The all-weather floor mats and satellite radio were two extras we enjoyed having. Performance-wise, the Adventure trim has a few extra tools when it’s time to get away from the city.
For example, it comes with 8.6 inches of ground clearance (standard model has 8.4 inches) and the TRD Off-Road suspension. It features a Multi-Terrain Select system with Mud & Sand modes for beach driving, or a Rock & Dirt mode for trails. The Snow mode is for wintry conditions, something we would use here in Colorado. The Adventure trim is also dressed up with 18×7-inch matte black TRD alloy wheels with Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail all-terrain tires.
This Adventure tester also came with the optional weather package ($1,185), navigation ($1,620), Technology package ($1,265), and a power/tilt moonroof ($850). Total MSRP including destination: $39,948. By comparison, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 starts at $25,650, with the Adventure trim beginning at $33,050.
Interior Highlights: Orange Highlights & Plenty of Room
We jumped inside our Adventure RAV4 to find a stylish cabin with orange stitching that really popped against the black seats. The orange theme continues around the cupholder, cellphone charging pad, and above the glove box. We found the interior to be well-built with some nicely-layered and soft-touch materials. The hard plastics on the door panels and around the dash are not without their purpose, as they are easy to clean. The rubberized grip surfaces on the interior door pulls and the radio and climate knobs are a nice touch for this trim.
The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and we think the synthetic leather feels like the real thing. The power driver’s seat and tilt/telescoping steering wheel allowed us to find the perfect driving position. We also like the radio and climate controls which are easy to find and use. Technology abounds in the 2019 RAV4, with a laundry list that starts with Toyota’s Entune 3.0 Audio system and expands to Verizon Wi-Fi.
In the back, your passengers will be comfortable and there’s enough room for taller people, even behind a taller driver. There’s also enough headroom in back even with the raked roof, plus a seat recline feature if you want to get more comfy on a long trip.
The RAV4’s cargo carrying-ability is among the biggest in the class, and that’s true whether the seats are up or down. There’s 37 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and 57 cubes behind the front. It’s also low and easy to load as we had some extra big boxes to carry this week. The power liftgate made it more convenient too.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is powered by a 2.5-liter engine producing 203 horsepower (up 27 horsepower from last year). It’s more powerful and efficient, thanks to a higher compression ratio (13:1 on gas models) and Toyota’s D4-S fuel injection system, which combines direct and secondary port injectors.
The four-cylinder engine pairs with a new eight-speed automatic, both of which benefit from the RAV4’s lighter curb weight compared to last year. The improvements help the newly-redesigned RAV4 achieve an EPA-estimated 25/33 city/highway and 28 combined. Overall, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 is one of the most fuel-efficient compact SUVs available.
The RAV4 Adventure tows up to 3,500 lbs., while all other trim levels can only pull 1,500 lbs. The Adventure trim also comes with active grille shutters to increase efficiency.
Driving Dynamics: Some Noise But Solid Overall
We powered the RAV4 Adventure in and around the mountains west of Denver, the perfect environment for this compact trail runner. It has enough power for most driving situations, but could leave you wanting more ‘oomph’ if you have a full load of people and cargo, especially pulling mountain passes or long hills.
Around town it goes just fine, and merges onto the highway with ease. Once on the open road, the RAV4 provides a confident feeling at higher speeds. We did notice the engine noise inside the cabin when we pushed the SUV hard going up I-70 at altitude.
The eight-speed is smooth, and there’s no reluctance to downshift if you need power for passing. We left the transmission in Normal mode most of the week. Dialing it over to Sport, however, sharpens responsiveness and shift timing for more spirited driving.
The special TRD suspension and torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system help the RAV4 Adventure negotiate wet or snowy conditions easily. It can be taken off-road for light-duty work and will get you a little farther back into the high country than the standard model. In the twisty corners, there isn’t too much lean in spite of the taller ride height.
With a completely new exterior look, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure stands out amongmost other compact SUVs. In general, the RAV4 is still one of the most popular SUVs for sale, and with good reason. It’s versatile, holds up to five passengers, and comes with Toyota’s reputation for durability.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy