All-new, rugged crossover. The 2019 Toyota RAV4 rolls in with a brand-new look and feel that harks back to the old days of compact SUVs – a segment this model helped launch back in 1994 – that offered compact footprints and some off-road capability.

While the RAV4 remains a crossover, it takes on a sharper, more off-road-ready look that includes a more upright stance, sharper body lines, a higher ride height, and other cues from the Toyota Tacoma and Toyota 4Runner. This strikes a nice balance between comfier crossovers and more rugged SUVs.

Rugged looks with a soft side. One look at the 2019 Toyota RAV4 makes it clear the automaker wanted to abandon the straight soft-roader look of yesteryear and adopt a more rugged take on the segment. This new off-road-focused suit contrasts the rest of the class nicely, ensuring the RAV4 stands out in a sea of vanilla.

But it’s not all about ruggedness. The RAV4 still has the softer side crossover buyers seek. Its cabin is well equipped even in base LE form, which comes with a seven-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth, USB ports, and more as standard.

Some compromise is necessary. While that rugged exterior is sharp, there's a bit of a compromise buyers must make inside. The low roofline on the RAV4 intrudes on interior space, cutting head room to just 37.7 inches with the optional panoramic sunroof. This makes even average-height drivers feel a little too close to the headliner for comfort.

Hauling cargo and people? The RAV4 excels with up to 37.5 cubic feet of room with the rear seats up. However, its roughly 57 cubes with the rear seats folded falls well short of the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester at 75.8 and 76.1 cubic feet, respectively. It's also short of the Ford Escape’s 68 cubic feet and the Kia Sportage’s 60.1 cubes.

Toyota RAV4

Safety for the win. Safety has become a huge deal for Toyota lately. The automaker has made advanced safety features part of the standard equipment in most of its new cars, and the RAV4 is no exception. While we’re still waiting on official crash-test data from the IIHS, Toyota equipped the 2019 RAV4 with all the standard active safety tech it needs to be a Top Safety Pick Plus, including forward- and rear-collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking.

Also, drivers in cooler climates will find the RAV4’s base all-wheel-drive system adequate, but the available torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system delivers impeccable slick-road handling. This system also enhances off-road handling and on-road cornering. The torque-vectoring all-wheel drive is standard in the RAV4 Adventure and optional in the Limited trim.

Final thoughts. The 2019 Toyota RAV4 does so many things right that it meets the needs of virtually any buyer. One particular standout is the more rugged Adventure trim with its advanced all-wheel drive, off-road-focused wheels and tires, and traction-management system, which make it perfect for off-road enthusiasts who also use this rig to commute to work and soccer practice every day.

Sure, there are models with more power, like the 2.0-liter-equipped Escape and Sportage, and others with more cargo room, like the Forester and CR-V, but few check as many boxes as the RAV4.

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