WHAT IT IS: All-new for 2019, if you haven’t seen any recent RAV4s on the road, then you haven’t been looking closely enough. Selling 427,000 units in 2018, it’s the gold standard for buyers looking in the segment. Available in many different trims, my test unit was the top-tier ‘Limited.’ Starting at $33,650, it gives you an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment with navigation, premium audio system, heated seats, digital instrument panel, and much more from previous trim levels.

All RAV4s are equipped with the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes a punchy 203 horsepower. The eight-speed automatic transmission is good, but not great. What is great is that Toyota has managed to squeeze a few extra MPGs with the more efficient engine/transmission combo.

Space is great for passengers in both rows of seats and there is plenty of cargo room in the back. The exterior is much more modern, and feels like a mashup of a Jeep and a Hyundai, but in a really good way. While not available in the Limited trim, many other models offer a two-tone paint scheme that is really handsome and fits the car well.

My test model also had the advanced technology package, which adds a smart key system, hands-free power lift-gate, overhead 360-degree camera system, and a Qi wireless smartphone charging pad. The 360-degree parking video system is wonderful and the Qi wireless charging system continues to be mostly a gimmick (and that’s coming from someone who actually owns a phone that supports it!).

The driving experience is solid. I was able to put nearly 1,000 miles on the RAV4, and it was very confident on the highway. I didn’t find the driver’s seat to be particularly comfortable, but it’s a minor quip. I got about 33 MPG even while driving 75 MPH on the highway, which is wonderful.

MPG: 30 combined/26 city/35 highway

PRICE: $25,650-$35,850.

UPSIDES: Solid all-around choice.

DOWNSIDES: Driving experience not inspired.

WRAP-UP: The RAV4 is a must-have addition to your compact crossover shopping list. The 2020 models will be out soon with minor changes, but if you are an Android user, only the 2020 models are confirmed to have Android Auto. The 2019 models support Apple Carplay, so iPhone users are good to go there. Keep your eye out for the new TRD Pro trim that will be out as well if you do prefer something a little more rugged. The RAV4 is an easy vehicle to live with every day, and it excels most at being what most Americans needs every day: a comfortable and reliable ride at a fair price.

Wilson Calvert
Author: Wilson CalvertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist / Director of Operations
I am a long-time Houstonian and am obsessed with cars, soccer, traveling, bourbon and airplanes. I write a regular car review column for The Tribune and travel articles a few times per year.

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