Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD Solid Compact SUV

With this assessment of the redesigned 2019 Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD, The BRAKE Report begins a weekly installment of driving impressions. Each week we will spotlight a vehicle with an emphasis on safety features, as well as an overall impression of its merits.

Chatham, Mass. – Outstanding fuel economy, an extensive suite of safety features as well as driver-assistance and convenience ones highlight the redesigned 2019 Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD, which the company hopes will keep it at the top of the highly competitive compact SUV sales segment.

The fire blue 2019 RAV4 XLE AWD we sampled averaged more than 30 miles per gallon during several days of driving which included a 170-mile highway trip – some of it in bumper-to-bumper traffic – and negotiating the tourist-filled roads of Cape Cod.

Power train

In addition to being stingy in its use of regular gas, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine provided peppy performance without much fuss, thanks to its 209 horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of torque. The eight-speed transmission’s characteristics are tailored to three different driver-selected modes: normal, ECO for optimum fuel use and Sport for a more aggressive approach.

In addition, the driver can select three-different operational modes for the all-wheel-drive system depending upon conditions: Mud & Sand for beach driving, Rock & Dirt for trails or Snow.

Regardless of driving-mode selected, the RAV4 XLE provides a comforting array of safety systems within the standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, including automatic emergency braking. Major components of the system are:

Pre-collision with pedestrian detection (PCS w/PD)

Using a camera and radar sensor, if the RAV4 detects approaching a preceding vehicle or pedestrian too closely, the system will alert the driver with audible and visual warnings and/or apply brakes to help mitigate or avoid the collision in certain cases (using Forward Collision Warning, Brake Assist and Automatic Emergency Braking.

Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA)

Newly added for 2019 to LDA w/SA is the capability, under some circumstances, to detect the road’s edge, in addition to the pre-existing ability to detect visible lane markers and the vehicle’s position in the lane. If unintentional lane deviation is detected, the system alerts the driver with audible and visual warnings. Steering Assist can provide small corrective steering inputs to help the driver prevent the vehicle from unintentionally leaving its lane.

Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)

This adaptive cruise control for highways/freeways enables low-speed speed matching, stopping, and acceleration/deceleration relative to a preceding vehicle.

New Lane Tracing Assist (LTA)

LTA can be enabled when using DRCC and has the capability to recognize white or yellow lane markings or the path of a preceding vehicle if lane markers are temporarily unavailable. It can also identify and actively track the center of the lane by providing steering assistance (hands-on, driver-assist system). This reduces driver burden and helps support safe driving, especially in traffic congestion on long highway trips. The LTA system can be turned on/off.

Automatic High Beam (AHB)

Capability to automatically activate and deactivate high beams based on the driving environment and preceding vehicle’s lights.

Road Sign Assist (RSA) 

Another system added for 2019, RSA can identify certain Stop, Yield, Do Not Enter and speed-limit signs and signal the driver with visual and audible alerts (including letting the driver know they are exceeding the speed limit). The alerts vary based on sign type and are shown on the Multi-Information Display (MID).

Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM)

Sounds an alert when reversing and vehicles are detected coming behind the RAV4 from either the right or left.

Driver Conveniences

The RAV4 XLE is more than a safety-system showcase providing an enjoyable driving experience. The seats are comfortable with four adults having plenty of room for virtually any journey, with the driver’s perch having eight-way power adjustment.

The height-adjustable power hatch can be controlled by either a dash switch or remote, which also enables use of the keyless ignition/door-unlock system.


Four USB charging ports mean the RAV4 can keep your mobile devices ready to go. A fifth USB port enables direct connection of a mobile device the vehicle’s media system, including Apple Car Play for those who have a compatible iPhone.

Apple Car Play, allowed me to access apps from my iPhone (including reading text messages through the vehicle’s sound system and then allowed me to respond vocally, thus letting me keep my eyes on the road) and provided maps and navigation on the system’s 8-inch touch screen. Sirius/XM satellite radio and Toyota’s Entune 3.0 audio system, filled the quiet cabin with everything from live sporting events to world news to music from my collection.

Driving the RAV4 XLE AWD

There are too many features to cover in any one review, but the redesigned 2019 RAV4 XLE AWD combines them all into a very satisfying package. Maneuvering in urban, suburban and rural traffic is not an issue – the RAV4 at 180.9-inches long, 73-inches wide and 67-inches high fits into tight spots (again, all the safety and driver-assist features help).

Like the others in the compact SUV/CUV class – Honda CRV, Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, for example – the RAV4 drives like a car, a very modern car; not at all like a truck or the early SUVs.

This RAV4 XLE AWD stickered at $33,699 (including shipping) which, combining build quality, Toyota-reliability, included equipment and features, makes it a solid value.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.