2019 Toyota RAV4 reviews round-up

The fifth-generation of Toyota’s global best-selling SUV received its European launch last week in Barcelona, Spain. A significant number of national, regional and online UK motoring outlets were invited to the event and many of their road test reviews have now been published.

What were their first impressions of our new, all-hybrid RAV4? Below is a selection of excerpts from some of the road tests. To read their full online reports, click the emboldened links.

Toyota RAV4: Autocar

“That hybrid powertrain is usefully potent and more than capable of dispatching overtakes with little bother… Around town, it makes for smooth progress, particularly when running on electricity alone.”

Click here to read the full Autocar review

Toyota RAV4: Auto Express

“There’s much to like about the new Toyota RAV4 – an excellent chassis, decent practicality, impressive efficiency and strong BiK figures… As comfortable family transport, it should find plenty of customers, particularly among those choosing their next company car.

“We also tried a four-wheel drive edition on some pretty badly rutted and muddy terrain. It acquitted itself well – enough to persuade us that this RAV4 has more than enough ability off-road… There’s no discernible pay-off in on-road performance either.”

Click here to read the full Auto Express review

Toyota RAV4: CAR

“Producing a medium-sized SUV that’s somehow new and different from the rest may seem like an impossible task in today’s market, but Toyota has had a damn good go.

“There’s plenty to like about the RAV4, from its economical low CO2 hybrid powertrain to the impressive practicality, standard-fit safety kit and near-faultless reliability record.”

Click here to read the full CAR review

Toyota RAV4: Motoring Research

“The steering has a meaty directness and the car turns in keenly, gripping hard and cornering with composure, particularly if you chose the 4WD version. Double wishbone rear suspension, a lower centre of gravity and a 57% stiffer chassis all help here. Crucially, such relative dynamism doesn’t come at the expense of ride quality. Supple, measured damping smoothes-out all but the largest potholes and ruts.

“The new, fifth-generation RAV4 is faster, roomier, quieter, more efficient and better-equipped than the car it replaces… Its triple-whammy of bold styling, a satisfying drive and hybrid tech makes a compelling argument for choosing [one].”

Click here to read the full Motoring Research review

Toyota RAV4: MSN

“This new RAV4… [has] been the recipient of a serious rebirth, aimed at making it a true alternative to the most popular petrol and diesel SUVs in driving dynamics, interior ambience and cost of ownership.

“We tested the all-wheel drive RAV4 on a short off-road course, more challenging than anything most owners will put it through. It should be able to cope perfectly well with the occasional muddy lane or steep driveway. As for road handling… it’s up there with some of the best competitors. The RAV4 handles directly, without too much body roll. Decent grip levels and a late-acting ESP system actually make it quite fun in the corners.”

Click here to read the full MSN review

Toyota RAV4: Top Gear

“Its design is all about facets and creased octagons… No-one’s going to be scared by it, yet you’ll find interest and distinctiveness if you look.

“Actually it’s more of an SUV than a crossover… The black lower-body cladding and wheel arches are all part of SUV semiotics. A ‘Trail Mode’ button in the centre console activates a brake differential and different ESP strategy. It might just get you out of a slightly more challenging off-road hole than before.

“As a family wagon it is… appealing. It’s roomy, comfortable and nice to be in. And as a financial and fuel-saving choice it really does take some beating.”

Click here to read the full Top Gear review

Toyota RAV4: What Car?

“The RAV4’s trump card is the potential for exceedingly low running costs. Company car users will find the benefit-in-kind rates very enticing, with CO2 emissions as low as 102g/km – far better than anything in the class.

“Private buyers are looked after, too, with what are predicted to be gold standard resale values. And while overall fuel economy is unlikely to match the best diesels, we managed a respectable touring figure of around 48mpg; and if you live in the city, that’s where hybrids are notoriously frugal. More than ever, that’s why the new Toyota RAV4 shouldn’t be overlooked.”

Click here to read the full What Car? review

Learn more: Interview with the new RAV4’s chief engineer


Comments (53)

  1. Hi Just a quick question re my RAV4 Hybrid AWD – if I move the gear lever back to Drive, it can also move to the right where there’s a S + and – sign.
    What’s this for please, as I can’t see anything about it in the manual?

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch. The ‘S’ on the leaver stands for sequential. When the shift lever is moved to the sequential shift position, engine braking force is increased and, because engine rpm is kept higher than when the transmission is in the standard D lever
      position, throttle response is sharper.

      We hope this helps.

  2. Can you please advise which of the two tow bar options are better suited to a tow hook mounted cycle carrier. Horizontal or vertical? I still need the ability to tow a 500kg trailer.

    1. Hi Keith,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      As we do not offer a Toyota genuine tow hook mounted cycle carrier, unfortunately we cannot advise on compatibility. However, we can inform you of the tow bar manufacturer to help you make an informed choice:

      Tow bar manufacturer: Brink
      Tow bar: Detachable Horizontal
      RAV4 model: 2018/11 FMC

      Thanks, we hope this helps.

    1. Hello Sergejs,

      The Dynamic grade does not feature a heated steering wheel or heated windscreen wipers.


  3. I currently have the 2.2 diesel invincible Rav 4, thinking of moving to the excel and. What is the towing comparison please.

    1. Hi Bob,

      If you could please provide a registration or VIN number for your current RAV4, we will be able to assist you further with a comparison of the towing capacity.


        1. Good morning,

          Thanks for getting in touch. The Dynamic grade doesn’t have these features, however does have auto folding heated mirrors and front heated seats. The Excel grade features a heated steering wheel and windscreen wiper de-icer.

          We hope this helps.

  4. Hi, one of the options on the website is ‘long life body protector’; my local dealer had not heard of it and it was not an option when ordering a car. Is this a factory version of the Super Guard / Guardex that they try to sell as a dealer option.

    1. Hi Martin,

      Thanks for getting in touch. The long life body protector aims to add a further layer of protection to the paint and provide a barrier to the effects of sunlight etc. This is not a factory option, rather a dealer application. Could you please let us know your local dealership and we can look into this further for you.


      1. Thanks, it was Inchcape in Sandhurst; I was offered Guardex at £625 but they were unaware of the body protector

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for getting in touch. The rating is 21% or 22% depending on specification. Which grade are you interested in?

  5. There is still no full brochure for the rav4 not even one to download. Why is this? Surely with specific versions of the car being in production the factory know what goes into what so it should be easily possible to publish a proper brochure.

    1. Hi Alan,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We have spoken with the team and this will be available from the beginning of April – there will be a downloadable pdf that will contain specification, equipment, prices etc.


        1. Any news on an update to the live brochure download so it doesn’t link to the old model? I like to keep PDF versions of brochures for my cars.

          1. Hi Paul,

            Thanks for getting in touch. This is something that the relevant team are currently working on and will be fixed as soon as possible.


  6. Hi, I ordered an Excel model through my local dealer 3 weeks ago but have yet to get a delivery date. My dealer isn’t able to get more information. Do you have any insight on timelines? Thanks

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch, it’s great to hear that you’ve ordered the new RAV4. Customer deliveries are due to start from April. However, for a specific timeline, we can only advise for you to liaise with your centre again at a later date.


  7. I was seriously thinking of downsizing my 2016 Lexus RX450h to a new fully loaded RAV4 Excel especially as only the Toyota has a 5 year warranty and keeps the road tax at lower rate being a fraction under £40k but the absence of Apple Car Play is serious failure and unforgivable misjudgement by Toyota.

    1. Hi Ian,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Apple Car Play will be coming to our vehicles however at this time we cannot provide any more information. We would recommend regularly checking our website and social channels for further updates.


        1. At this time, we can’t provide any more information. However, thank you for your interest and please keep an eye on our blogs and social channels for further updates. Thank you.

  8. A further question is around the seats – the Design does seem to be down graded with manual seat adjustments and only cloth seats ..the equivalent of the Design is now the Excel …or have I missread the info so far??

    1. Hi Richard,

      Thanks for getting in touch. The Excel is a higher grade to the Icon and Design grades. The excel has leather seats as standard with power sliding driver’s seat and power lumbar support. The Design grade has fabric seats as standard.

      We hope this helps.


  9. Hi- I note in the All New RAV4 web site info , under safety features the term “Full- Range Adaptive Cruise control” has been used …does this mean the car will select cruise control at lower speeds e.g 20mph or lower.

    1. Hi Richard,

      The Full Range Adaptive Cruise control can be set at any speed range. However, once the car has reached a halt it will require the driver to press the accelerator pedal to turn on the Adaptive Cruise Control again.


  10. Oh Toyota what have you done. Just been to look at the Rav4 Dynamic, car looks brilliant but where is the memory function on the drivers seat. Yes I know it is available on the Excel as are heated steering wheel, heated washers etc but this is supposed to be the premium car of the range. Such a pity.

    1. Hi Martin,

      Thanks for these comments. We are sorry to hear that you feel this way and will pass the feedback on to our Product Team.


      1. Any news about wireless charge for a smartphone, I believe all car has this options now, I was disappointed when I didn’t find this option on New Rav4 and digital rear view mirror all countries has this option but not UK. Any explanation why UK missed this options?

        1. Hi there,

          Wireless charging is not available on UK specification RAV4. We will pass this feedback on to our Product Team.


    2. Actually the dynamic is not the premium of the range the excel is. The dynamic has more sports type features which push the price up. As I understand it the seats in the dynamic have synthetic materials trimmed with leather rather than the full leather of the excel.

  11. I am amused that car testers compare with diesel models although most potential purchasers, like me, are probably selling diesels to buy something more environmentally acceptable. Why too do testers always want 7 seats? A nonsense for most people and I bet rarely used – you just use fuel carrying the damn things around. Bad news about the sat nav system though and I don’t understand why directions don’t come up on next to the speedo as it does in VW. Pity too that the rear mirror camera is so dumbed down for the UK market – if you want a ‘top twenty’ spot Toyota you need to ensure UK doesn’t get poorer specs than elsewhere. Handsome car though, can’t wait to test drive a 4×4 version

    1. Hi Patrick,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We value all the feedback we receive on our vehicles and appreciate you taking the time to make your comments. We will ensure that your feedback is passed on to our Product Team.


      1. Disappointing consideration the cost of the Dynamic version. Feels like we are been short changed; available in mainland Europe and the US but not the UK. What odds will I get that it will be a new feature on the 2020 version.

  12. On the 4WD models, does the rear electric motor provide greater regenerative braking than the front drive model, and therefore aid mpg and CO2?

    1. Hi Pete,

      The purpose of the rear electric motor is not to provide greater regenerative braking, but to aid performance. The RAV4’s AWD Integrated Management (AIM) automatically adjusts different vehicle systems – steering assist, brake and throttle control, shift pattern and drive torque distribution – according to the drive mode selected, in order to gain better on-road performance. You can see more here:https://blog.toyota.co.uk/explore-the-new-2019-toyota-rav4-hybrid-powertrains-and-performance.


      1. Thank you for that. I realised the primary purpose is for traction, I just wondered if as a by-product it produced additional regenerating during deceleration and braking.

        The article in the link does once refer to the rear motor as a “motor/generator”, which hints at but doesn’t categorically indicate it does help charge the HV battery.

        However, I now understand that even the Excel model doesn’t have a Head Up Display, and having used one for the last 7 years and 100,000 miles, it has become something I never want to be without and therefore rules out the Rav4 Hybrid for me.

        For what it’s worth, I also am disappointed that by now it doesn’t come with Carplay and Android Auto, but that alone wouldn’t have stopped me considering the Rav4.

  13. What this roundup understandably omits from nearly all of the reviews is that they are all critical of the dated infotainment system and lack of support for CarPlay and/or Android Auto.

    As I’ve said in response to other posts, I really like the car but Toyota’s inattentive and, dare I say it, uncaring approach to the infotainment system means that I won’t be buying a RAV4 this year.

    Perhaps if Toyota make an effort for a change on their infotainment package for next year’s model, I’ll reevaluate. Until then, I’m sorry to say that it’s a ‘no’ from me.

    1. Hi Matt,

      Thank you for these comments, we are sorry to hear that you feel this way.

      We appreciate that there has been some negative feedback on our blogs and social channels regarding the issues that you mention, and we always pass this on to our Product Team in order to make future improvements.


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