Redesigned Toyota RAV4 gets a more rugged look for 2019

Nora Naughton
The Detroit News

New York — The rugged Toyota RAV4 is bulked-up for 2019.

The 2019 RAV4 will offer a new all-wheel drive system and sporty XSE Hybrid model.

The redesigned compact crossover gets a more domineering stance, standing lower and wider with a longer wheelbase. The scrappy SUV gets more-sculpted edges, shorter front and rear overhangs, and a stronger nose.

The RAV4 will debut on the Adventure-grade model a new all-wheel drive system with dynamic torque vectoring and rear driveline disconnect to allow for nimble maneuvering, even off-road.

Toyota said the rear driveline-disconnection features the world’s first ratchet-type dog clutches on both the front and rear wheel shafts. These clutches stop the driveshaft’s rotations to transmit the driving force to the front wheels when all-wheel drive isn’t required. That’s designed to reduce energy loss, improving fuel efficiency. It also reduces vibration for a smoother ride.

The off-road Adventure model also has a more rugged exterior with a more angular grille, fog-light surrounds and unique wheels.

The new RAV4 is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with 8-speed automatic transmission, in addition to the new XSE Hybrid option. The XSE Hybrid model features sportier styling, with black accents across the front end, mirror caps, fender arches and lower rockers. On the XLE trim levels and above, projector-beam LED headlamps flank each side of the grille.

Toyota says the unibody architecture is more rigid than its predecessors. It gets an additional half-inch of ground clearance. Relocated side mirrors, set lower on the door, improve visibility around the A-pillar.

The 2019 RAV4 is expected to hit showrooms later this year, with hybrid models following in early 2019. It’s an important vehicle for Toyota, as the Japanese automaker’s once-ubiquitous sedans suffer from changes in consumer preference from cars to rough-and-tumble SUVs.

Toyota sold 407,600 RAV4 SUVs in 2017, outselling the Camry and Corolla, and posting a 15 percent increase over 2016. Through the first two months of 2018, the RAV4 posted a 16.5 percent increase with 56,520 deliveries.