Hybrid SUVs have been, until recently, a luxury good marketed by the likes of Lexus and BMW. That’s no longer the case: with the arrival of the 2019 Toyota RAV4 lineup in Australia, the Japanese brand is making a big bet on petrol-electric hybrid tech for crossovers in the local market. While hybrid Toyota SUVs have been available in foreign markets for many years, the new RAV4 is the first of the lot to come to Australia.
While standalone petrol power remains in some variants, the majority of new RAV4 grades are partially electrified. Diesel power has been scrapped, with the new hybrid options offering better fuel economy at a substantial discount to the outgoing diesel choices.
Apart from a single, high-end off-road focussed grade called the Edge, any buyer that wants all-wheel-drive in their new RAV4 will have to opt for the hybrid system, which is available in 163kW dual-motor all-paw form, and also in a 160kW front-drive iteration.
A familiar range structure carries across for this new fifth-generation RAV4, with Australian specifications carrying GX, GXL and Cruiser badging, while the aforementioned Edge grade introduces a dedicated rugged flagship to the lineup.
The price of entry to RAV4 lineup rises gently from $29,450 in the outgoing car to $30,640 in the new version, though the 2019 model boosts specification across the board.
All new RAV4s have a large eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, DAB radio and Bluetooth streaming, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available … via a free dealer upgrade sometime between October and Christmas.
Alloy wheels are finally standard across the board, too, as are auto LED headlights and wipers, rear air vents, and a full safety suite that includes AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and speed sign recognition.
There are four drivetrain combinations on offer, commencing with the two-litre ‘Dynamic Force’ naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol already seen on the Corolla hatch.
This unit, which produces 127kW/203Nm in this application, is the only engine to be offered with a six-speed manual, while a continuously variable (CVT) automatic, with a rather novel conventional launch gear, is optional. The two-litre petrol is claimed to return 6.8L/100km with the manual gearbox, while the auto is 0.3L/100km more frugal.
From there, it’s a step into hybrid land: all new RAV4 hybrids pair a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol four with an electric motor, which together produce 160kW of power, or 163kW in the dual-motor AWD variants which allow up to 80% of torque to be sent to the rear axle.
The focus for the RAV4 hybrid is on assisting the petrol engine, especially when taking off from a standstill. The small battery, which measures around 1.6kWh, can offer a few kilometres of electric-only driving but it is mainly used to alleviate the petrol around town. This sees official fuel economy figures of 4.7L/100km (4.8L/100km AWD).
Although Australia does not tax vehicles by emissions, the hybrid RAV4 substantially cuts down on the CO2 output of the old diesels, with carbon emissions falling from 176g/km of CO2 to 107-109g/km.
The final powertrain is essentially the 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four cylinder petrol, but without hybrid assistance. This produces 152kW/243Nm and is paired exclusively to an eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. This engine is only in the off-road Edge spec.
2019 Toyota RAV4 model lineup
The entry-grade GX comes by default with the two-litre petrol engine and is priced at $30,640 with a six-speed manual and $32,640 in CVT auto form. It’s fitted with 17-inch alloys, fabric seats and a rear armrest in addition to the rangewide tech and safety features covered above. Frustratingly for a $30k vehicle, the GX soldiers on with a plastic steering wheel and gear shifter.
You can grab a GX hybrid for $35,140 – a choice that adds power and lessens consumption, but also adds dual-zone climate control. All-wheel-drive adds a further $3,000 to the sticker.
Stepping up to the mid-grade GXL is a $3,000 upgrade over a corresponding GX spec. In something of a sweet spot in the range, the GXL adds in 18-inch wheels, a leather steering wheel and gear shifter, wireless smartphone charging, full keyless entry and start, ‘premium’ fabric upholstery, privacy glass, and five USB ports – four of which are fast-chargers.
The luxury-spec Cruiser asks a further $3,500 over a GXL but adds in a good degree of additional spec. The Cruiser brings a sunroof and leather seats, which are heated for the front row and 12-way power-adjustable with memory for the driver. There’s an electric tailgate and a nine-speaker JBL stereo, while chrome door handles, a silver grille and different wheels set it apart. The alloys measure 19-inches in petrol form while the hybrid sports a black set of the GXL’s 18s.
We’re impressed that the Cruiser hybrid with AWD is essentially $6,000 cheaper than the outgoing Cruiser diesel with AWD in the old spec, for a more refined engine that uses 2L/100km less fuel.
Finally, the Edge specification is technically the flagship but in reality, it stands on its own as a dedicated off-road spec for the RAV4. It bush-bash like a Land Cruiser, but with slightly more generous approach and departure angles and unique rugged styling cues – plus a rather fetching Jungle Khaki colour on offer – it will attract some interest. The Edge is priced in a single spec with the 2.5L petrol-only engine at $47,140.
2019 Toyota RAV4 servicing and warranty
Toyota’s capped price servicing will apply to the new RAV4, as will the recently-announced brand wide five year warranty with unlimited kilometre coverage for private buyers. If you register the RAV4 for business use, however, warranty coverage is limited to 160,000km.
2019 Toyota RAV4 price list
RAV4 GX 2.0L petrol 2WD manual $30,640
RAV4 GX 2.0L petrol 2WD auto $32,640
RAV4 GX hybrid 2WD auto $35,140
RAV4 GX hybrid AWD auto $38,140
RAV4 GXL 2.0L petrol 2WD auto $35,640
RAV4 GXL hybrid 2WD auto $38,140
RAV4 GXL hybrid AWD auto $41,140
RAV4 Cruiser 2.0L petrol 2WD auto $39,140
RAV4 Cruiser hybrid 2WD auto $41,640
RAV4 Cruiser hybrid AWD auto $44,640
RAV4 Edge 2.5L petrol AWD auto $47,140