Fifth-Gen RAV4 Uncovered in New York

The best-selling CUV in the U.S. gets a new look and two new powertrains, both borrowed from Toyota’s Camry midsize sedan.

March 28, 2018

4 Min Read
Sales of new RAV4 begin late 2018 in US
Sales of new RAV4 begin late 2018 in U.S.

NEW YORK – Toyota will debut the fifth-generation of its RAV4 compact CUV today at the 2018 New York International Auto Show.

Last year the RAV4 overtook the Camry as Toyota’s best-selling model in the U.S., as well as was the No.1-selling non-pickup in the light-truck segment.

Toyota no doubt is trying to keep the RAV4 on top with a redesign coming just 4½ years after the current generation debuted.

The RAV4 moves to the K variant of Toyota’s New Global Architecture platform, allowing it to be lower and wider than its predecessor, and with shorter front and rear overhangs for improved off-road ability.

While wheelbase grows 1.2 ins. (30 mm), overall length falls 0.2 ins. (5 mm), as Toyota resists the size creep that has afflicted so many C-size crossovers.

Also helping the CUV tackle rugged terrain is a 0.5-in. (13-mm) hike in ground clearance, although Toyota notes despite this the CUV’s aerodynamics are better.

Chassis rigidity rises 57%.

Visibility improves thanks to lowered side mirrors and a lower beltline, as well as bigger rear-quarter glass.

Introduced with the fourth-generation model, Toyota again will offer a hybrid variant of the RAV4. It will use the Camry Hybrid’s 2.5L Dynamic Force 4-cyl. The engine also will power the non-hybrid RAV4.

The engine has 41% thermal efficiency in the hybrid and 40% thermal efficiency in non-hybrids due to high-speed combustion technology and variable control.

In conventional RAV4s the engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, while hybrids use a CVT.

No engine specifications are provided in pre-show materials distributed to media. In non-hybrid versions, the Camry’s horsepower is 203, while the Camry Hybrid powertrain, a 2018 Wards 10 Best Engines winner, achieves a net horsepower of 208.

A new-to-Toyota dynamic torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system with a rear driveline disconnect is one of three AWD systems available on the ’19 RAV4. It can send 50% of engine torque to rear wheels as well as apportion it between left and right rear wheels to improve handling, the automaker says.

The driveline disconnects torque to the rear during times AWD isn’t necessary via what Toyota bills as world-first ratchet-type dog clutches for the rear axle shafts.

“These clutches stop the driveshaft’s rotations, thus transmitting the driving force to the front wheels when AWD isn’t required, significantly reducing energy loss, improving fuel efficiency and reducing rotational vibration for a smoother ride,” Toyota says.

The system is standard on Adventure and Limited AWD grades of the vehicle.

Toyota will introduce a new sport grade to the hybrid RAV4’s lineup, the XSE. It comes with piano-black exterior accents on the fender arches and mirror caps, lower rockers and the front end, as well as a 2-tone paint scheme with a standard black roof. Black Softex faux leather and blue trim decorate the XSE Hybrid’s interior.

Off-road-oriented Adventure grades of the vehicle can get mocha-colored Softex and orange stitching.

A Toyota North America first, a digital-display rearview mirror, is standard on the top-of-the-line RAV4 Limited, the automaker says, which also features a newly designed 7-in. (18-cm) multi-information display.

Engineering and design’s commitment to refining the RAV4 shows in the interior, which boasts ergonomic improvements to the console-mounted volume knob, cupholders and open tray, Toyota says.

HVAC knobs have been redesigned for “improved tactility.”

Following the new Avalon and Corolla hatchback, the RAV4 becomes the third vehicle in Toyota’s lineup to get Apple CarPlay.

There are three different versions of Toyota’s multimedia system in the vehicle: a base version with a 7-in. (18-cm) touchscreen, a midgrade version with an 8-in. (20-cm) touchscreen and SiriusXM satellite radio and a premium version with the 8-in. screen and embedded navigation.

As many as five USB ports are available inside the CUV, and there is an optional 11-speaker, 800-watt JBL audio system.

Like the Corolla hatchback also on display at the New York show, the RAV4 gets the second version of Toyota’s Safety Sense suite of advanced driver-assist technologies that includes new lane-tracing and road-sign recognition systems in addition to more standard fare such as lane-departure alert and pre-collision warning.

The automaker calls the appearance of the RAV4 more “chiseled” than before. In photos, the vehicle now has a taller, less wedge-like front end, while D-pillars are more steeply raked. It swaps the outgoing model’s narrow slit grille for Toyota’s now-signature trapezoidal-shaped face.

Non-hybrid grades of the new RAV4 are due in late 2018 in the U.S., while hybrids will go on sale in early 2019.

RAV4 sales in 2017 tallied 407,594, a 15.7% increase from 2016. Some 50,559 were hybrids, Wards Intelligence data shows.

Through February sales of the vehicle rose 16.5%, enough to keep it above all other utility vehicle sales in the period.

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