The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide

Since its debut in 1996, the RAV4 has stood the test of time delivering a civilized and enjoyable ride. Of course, never to rest on its laurels, Toyota has totally overhauled its best-selling vehicle in the United States for 2019.

Under the hood of the compact SUV resides a 2.5-liter inline-4 cylinder engine with variable valve timing that produces 203 horsepower (up by 27 from its predecessor) at 6600 rpm and 184 pounds-feet (increase of 12) of torque at 5000 rpm. Out goes the 6-speed auto gear box to be replaced by an 8-speed for even seamless shifts and substantial fuel savings. An independent MacPherson strut front and double-wishbone rear suspension does a particularly good job of soaks bumps and potholes with skill and sure-footedness in this front-wheel or all-wheel-drive ride. Also history is the column-mounted steering, to be swapped with a rack-mounted system for ease at higher speeds or pulling into a parking lot. Though no speed demon by any means, braking duties are handled more than effectively by 12-inch ventilated front and 11.1-inch rear solid discs.

Our test-drive model was the all-wheel-drive Adventure, this one is for off-roaders who truly like to explore! It stands out from the rest with black LED headlight bezels flanking a split-bar upper grille, color-keyed upper and black lower bumpers with silver valance, and of course distinct Adventure badging and roof rails. Essentially, wheelbase sees an upturn of 1.2 inches. Touches of brushed metallic silver finish are evident as you slide behind the three-spoke, leather tilt/telescopic steering wheel. Storage areas are scattered throughout the cabin, including an open bin atop the glovebox, center console box (1.5 inches wider than previous), several cup/bottle holders and overhead sunglass holder. Other notable amenities include dual-zone auto a/c, 4.2-inch multi-information display screen (analog tachometer, speedometer, coolant temp and fuel gauges), 60/40 rear seat, 7-inch touch infotainment system, eight-way power driver and four-way adjustable front-passenger seats, power lift gate, and a moon roof. Orange accents and stitching on the seats, dashboard, doors, cup holder trim and in-dash storage trays are an instant giveaway that this is an “Adventure” you want to take on or off-road and enjoy! 

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag and driver knee airbag are standard along with side-impact door beams, four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic brake distribution and brake assist, vehicle stability and traction control, rearview camera and front and rear crumple zones. Also included at no cost is Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which fetches the owner a pre-collision system that detects pedestrians, lane departure assist and dynamic cruise control.

If you need to seat five in comfort behind a roomy and safe vehicle, equipped with a responsive power train, the RAV4 should be at the top of your list. If you are not the adventurous type, go for the LE, XLE, XLE Premium or Limited trims. Either way, you will not be disappointed.

Tires: 235/55R19
Wheelbase: 105.9 inches
Length: 181.5 inches
Height: 68.6 inches
Width: 73.4 inches
Tow capacity: 3,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gallons
Mileage: city 25 mpg, highway 33
Weight: 3,615 pounds
Base price: $32,900
Price as tested: $39,634
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