One of the most. anticipated debuts at the 2018 New York auto show was the all-new fifth-generation RAV4, the latest iteration of the vehicle that started the popular small crossover segment that continues to grow in popularity. Here are few key points you might have missed about the crossover that goes on sale in late 2018
More power and efficiency
The lineup has Toyota’s new 2.5-liter inline-four engine and the six-speed has been replaced with an eight-speed automatic. The five gasoline-engine models will see a 15 percent increase in horsepower, says Jack Hollis, Toyota general manager. No figures yet, but officials promise best-in-class fuel economy.
Hybrid is king
The quickest of the nine trims will be the XSE Hybrid, Hollis assures. The XSE top-end hybrid is the performance model as Toyota works to create a new image of hybrids after years of Prius sales conditioned us to equate hybrid with fuel economy. Nor are there any compromises. The battery pack is under the rear seat now, so no space is lost in the rear cargo area—the hump is gone.
TNGA is the platform that giveth and taketh away
Moving the RAV4 to the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA platform) and from the smaller C or compact chassis shared with the Prius to the larger K chassis for the Avalon and Camry opened things up considerably. The longer 105.9-in. wheelbase and wider track provide more room in both rows and ample headroom as well. The change also made it possible to add 19-inch wheels for the first time.
Bigger and more loaded does not mean heavier
The new TNGA platform is designed to make the RAV4 more dynamic. The chassis is 57 percent more rigid and the vehicle has a lot more tech. Even with the addition of tech and features—the suite of safety features alone added about 45 pounds—the team was able to achieve a 4 percent weight reduction, said chief engineer Yoshikazu Saeki.
Improving all-wheel-drive capability
RAV4 becomes the first vehicle on the new TNGA to get all-wheel drive. Not just any all-wheel drive: It becomes the first Toyota nameplate to get Dynamic Torque Vectoring with Driveshaft Disconnect. Saeki assures us it is real torque vectoring with a differential that can overspeed a wheel. “It is a true gear ratio change,” he says. It is initially on Adventure and Limited gasoline-engine models with all-wheel drive, sending up to 50 percent of power to the rear wheels and directing it to individual wheels when needed.
The four hybrid trim models have a new AWD-i-system with a higher grade motor that is more powerful and counters understeer. There are no plans for a plug-in hybrid or pure battery electric RAV4, he says. Toyota prefers a regular hybrid for the RAV4, which was designed for a mix of performance and efficiency and to be used on long trips.
The RAV4 also now has Multi Terrain Select for maximum traction in snow, mud, sand, rocks, or on dirt. Hill ascent control is standard and, with torque vectoring, Toyota now offers downhill assist control as well.
The side mirrors have moved to the doors so they no longer block your view. It might initially look a bit strange on the outside, but it will be much appreciated by the driver from the inside. Look up: There is an optional panoramic roof for the first time. And if there is too much gear to see out the back window, flip a switch on the rearview mirror for a digital view that uses a camera and pans for a wider picture of the surroundings.