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  • Writer's pictureAlain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

2019 RAV4 Hybrid LE

This week we are reviewing the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid in entry-level LE trim. Our vehicle was assembled at the Woodstock plant in Canada and had an MSRP of $34,404.00 CAD.

Fun Factor:3

Can it Family: 7

Fuel-Friendly: 9

HWY-warrior: 8

Karaoke Friendly: 5

Baby friendly: 7

City Cruising: 10

The RAV4 is not the first car that would come into our mind when it comes to having fun on the road. Starting from the imprecise steering wheel feel, the acceleration that is ruff sounding when not in EV mode as the engine sonority comes closer to a blower than an engine. However, this doesn't stop the RAV4 from always being in the top 3 SUV sales, and it even has flagship status outselling the more conventional Corolla & Camry that were Toyota's bread and butter when it came to sales. To be honest, Toyota made an SUV for the masses that can be driven by everyone, and that has worked for them, not having to compromise or even cater to a specific clientele is what has made the RAV4 nameplate something that people have always come back to enjoy. It trades fun for practicality, ease of driving and simplicity. Our hybrid car was powered by a 2.5L four-banger producing 176HP and 163 lb-ft of torque to this is added an electric engine that produced 118hp for the front wheel and 54 hp to the rear wheel producing a total of 219HP, making it 25HP more potent than the late 2018 model and 16HP more than the 2019 non-Hybrid version. Making the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid the most powerful RAV4 ever.

Can the RAV4 Hybrid carry whole the family; and do you have to make compromises since it's a hybrid? Now starting with the rear seating capacity, 2 adults can sit comfortably with sufficient leg and head room and even have room for a child in the middle, having 3 adults would be a squeeze. However 3 children would be just good, we conducted out test with 3 scouts aged between the ages of 9 to 11 years. As for cargo room, the RAV4 doesn't disappoint either it can fit 2 medium strollers or 4 carryon suitcases with one stroller on top. For more functionality the rear seats can be folded in a 60/40 fashion to give you even more trunk space, the only downside is that to fold these seats, they need to be folded using the rear door and this needed to be repeated on each side.

No one can say that the RAV4 isn't efficient. In our test, we achieve a combined fuel consumption of 6.5L per 100km, in the city, we've achieved 6.1L per 100km and 6.8L per 100km on the HWY. Toyota announces the following consumption of a combined result of 6.0L per 100km, for the city it is 5.8L, and as for the HWY, it is 6.3L per 100km. These results are not very far away from our real-life test.

Now how does the RAV4 Hybrid handle on the HWY? It is stable without having too much body roll. However, it will feel more SUV like compared to previous generations that felt more like a crossover. Once you get going, the RAV4 brings lots of road noise into the cabin especially under heavy acceleration and this is where the unrefined engine notes come and make the experience unpleasant, when the RAV4 moves back into EV mode the whole thing becomes pleasant again.

The JBL sound system in the base model is below average, sounding very staticky and when using the Apple CarPlay to make phone calls, the volume is so low even at the highest level making phone calls somewhat unpleasant. As for the infotainment screen, it’s so pixelated that you can actually see the pixels one by one. In our test, our iPhone disconnected from Apple CarPlay and would go into projection mode and make Apple CarPlay non-functional. The system itself looks dated compared to other cars in the segment, on the other hand, the materials used are made robust and will probably never break. Toyota did put attention to details such as the temperature nobs made out of rubber and not out of some shiny black plastic that will look used after several months owning it. The whole temperature control tab is easy to use and very easy to read. The heat seats controls are a little hidden to our taste, turning them on if you're not used may cause the driver to take their eyes off the road.

Installation of car seats is fairly easy because the doors open wide allowing to bring in the car seat without any hassle. The only trouble is that the ISOFIX ports have been hidden below the seat, and attaching them will require some patience. As for the tether anchor, it’s hidden below a flap making the installation harder than it should instead of being visible and reachable from the rear seats. As for you young children, it will be easy for them to enter the back seats of the RAV4, they'll be able to hold the door handle and enter the car without any trouble. What we also liked is that the door stiles are hidden by the door, this is extremely practical in winter time or with lousy weather as your pants will not get dirty when exiting the car.

Now where the RAV4 shines in our mind is in the city. Having an SUV that is still considered to be compact and that can be parked easily and almost anywhere is a dream! When you add to this perspective that you can enjoy an AWD vehicle that consumes less then 6.1L per 100km in the city is just amazing. The best feature is that once you've regenerated enough electricity, your RAV4 can zoom quite in EV mode while not consuming one pit of fuel. On the other hand, we wish that Toyota would change the mermaid sounding reverse alert when the car inches backwards, we do understand that since the car is always in EV mode when reversing a sound is necessary however this could easily be replaced with a more pleasant sound at a more reasonable decibel level.

Why would we buy the Toyota RAV4 and what we liked about it: Excellent fuel consumption in the city, spacious, quite driving experience in EV mode, Toyota as a brand name stand for reliability.

Why would we not buy the Toyota RAV4 and what we didn't we like: Higher trims get very expensive very fast, drives like a truck, engine sounds more like a blower, base mode uses lots of hard plastic.

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