The redesigned 2018 Camry is having its moment in the spotlight, but there’s another Toyota waiting for its turn, ready to snag attention and the automaker’s overall sales title. The Camry has been Toyota’s best-selling vehicle for over a decade, but the RAV4 passed the sedan in sales for the first half of 2017, and the crossover could claim the sales title for 2017 and beyond. Considering the new 2018 Camry—a car we called a “brazen, bold effort” after driving it—we’re looking forward to what the automaker has planned for the upcoming, next-generation RAV4. Before the 2019 Toyota RAV4 makes its debut, here’s what the crossover could offer.
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 will probably be powered by a more powerful four-cylinder engine but without a turbocharger. Toyota has resisted the turbo-four trend we’ve seen all across the industry, and in the Camry, a base 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine produces 203-206 hp and 184-186 lb-ft of torque. The current RAV4 produces 176 hp and 172 lb-ft from its 2.5-liter I-4 that’s mated to a six-speed automatic; expect more power and an eight-speed transmission on the 2019 RAV4.
With an increase in power closer to what the 2018 Camry offers, the next RAV4 could be a little quicker. We’ve tested a front-drive 2017 model hitting 60 mph in 9.3 seconds and an all-wheel-drive 2016 model reaching 60 in 8.7 seconds. Those aren’t bad times for a sensible crossover, but consider that an all-wheel-drive 2017 Honda CR-V with a 1.5-liter turbo-four will get to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds and is still one of the more efficient options in that popular segment.
Return of the Hybrid
Will we see the return of a six-cylinder RAV4? Don’t count on it. Aside from a base four-cylinder model, a 2019 Toyota RAV4 hybrid model is likely to return, to fight the Rogue hybrid and the introduction of a CR-V hybrid that’s been rumored to be coming to the U.S. soon (it goes on sale in China later this year).
Better Fuel Economy All Around
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 will be more efficient, and we’re guessing it’ll perform well in our real-world-oriented Real MPG tests, too. The 2017 RAV4 is EPA-rated at 23/29-30 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive and 22/28 mpg with all-wheel drive. The hybrid currently only comes with all-wheel drive and is rated at 34/30 mpg. In Real MPG tests, a RAV4 Hybrid had no problem exceeding its EPA highway figure, and an all-wheel-drive non-hybrid RAV4 turned in Real MPG numbers slightly above its EPA numbers, too.
The 2018 Toyota Camry with a four-cylinder engine is EPA-rated at 28/39 mpg in the higher-volume trims and, for the new RAV4, we expect an improvement from its 2017 EPA numbers.
The (TRD) Sport Variant?
Before the current-generation RAV4 says goodbye, the 2018 model introduces a new trim level. The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure (shown here) combines a few visual upgrades with a Top Prep package for a combination that’s different from other RAV4s but not by much. As Toyota continues to rally a specially prepped version of the RAV4and increases the reach of its TRD subbrand, the next-generation RAV4 could see the introduction of a RAV4 TRD Sport trim or simply another RAV4 Adventure model.
Room for Everyone
One of the current RAV4’s best features is how much room the crossover offers for people and cargo. Open up the liftgate, and you might be surprised by just how much space the RAV4 offers. We hope the 2019 RAV4’s switch to a new TNGA architecture won’t significantly change that. Toyotas have often been good about keeping the drivetrain hump in the back seat to a minimum, which enhances the impression of spaciousness, and we don’t expect that to change on the new model.
When we drove the 2018 Camry (which moved to the TNGA architecture), we said it felt “big, open, and airy” despite having fractionally less rear legroom and shoulder room.
A More Platinum Experience
Those who have a RAV4 might notice the loaded RAV4 Platinum models when they roll down the street with their monochromatic paint scheme replacing the contrasting black styling elements on most other RAV4s. Aside from a more polarizing design, the 2019 RAV4 will also offer a more premium experience for those who want the Platinum trim. In addition to rear-seat vents, the new RAV4 Platinum—if that trim survives to the new generation—will likely include features from the 2018 Camry’s options list such as a panoramic glass roof, a color head-up display, and rear cross-traffic braking. The current RAV4 already offers LED headlights, a full suite of active safety tech, and a multicamera parking system. No matter the trim, we think the RAV4’s functional interior will benefit from a freshened design on the next-gen model (a Limited is shown here)
The Next RAV4 Should Drive Better
Although the 2018 Camry doesn’t magically feel like a rear-drive sports car on the road, we still felt that the new midsize sedan was muchnimproved, dynamically. The same should be true for the RAV4, though the Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V set the bar high with driving performance.
Will Toyota Bring Back the RAV4 Two-Door?
No, of course not, but check out how funny the two-door looks here. Toyota even offered a soft-top version!
As for the 2019 Toyota RAV4, we hope the automaker hasn’t sacrificed the incredible spaciousness we’ve come to appreciate with the model as it looks to increase driving excitement and a bolder design.