Toyota updates its best-selling SUV

RAV4 is all-new for 2019

By Frederick Olson
Image: Toyota

LOS ANGELES - Toyota showed off its all-new 2019 RAV4 compact SUV Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The little crossover is a big deal for the company. Last year, it sold more than 400,000 RAV4s, making it the best-selling non-pickup truck vehicle in the United States.

Toyota managers say refinement was one of the goals in designing the new SUV. To that end, they say the seats are more supportive and more comfortable than the previous generation. They have also added more soft-touch materials to the interior where driver and passenger touch parts of the car, while using more solid materials in other areas to convey strength and durability.

As with most modern cars, there are all sorts of safety technologies that are now standard on all RAV4 models. Those include things like lane-departure alert with steering assist, automatic front braking and even road sign recognition.

Styling for the new SUV is said to be inspired by Toyota's other trucks, like the Tacoma and Tundra, giving it a more aggressive, upright appearance.

The distance between the front and rear wheels is up 1.2 inches, giving rear-seat passengers a little more legroom.

The unibody structure is 57 percent more rigid than the previous model. Toyota managers say that rigidity, along with a revised suspension make the new RAV4 more agile while providing a smoother, quieter ride.

A new engine promises more power while improving fuel economy. The standard 2.5-liter gasoline engine generates 204 horsepower, up from 176 in the previous model. Meanwhile, fuel economy is up about three to four miles per gallon, depending on trim level.

When the hybrid version goes on sale in late March 2019, buyers will get a combined 219 horsepower while getting 41 MPG in the city and 37 on the highway. The conventional gasoline version of the RAV4 goes on sale this December.

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