If you want an AWD Toyota RAV4 and you don’t want hybrid technology, you’ve got one model to choose from, and this is it – the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Edge. While we know that demand thus far has overwhelmingly been in favour of the hybrid, a conventional AWD system and a solid petrol engine might just be enough to tip some buyers over the edge.
Pricing for the Edge starts from $47,490 before on-road costs, which sits it atop the new RAV4 range, and by a good few thousand dollars, too. The most expensive AWD hybrid model is the Cruiser, which starts from $44,990 before on-road costs.
Might go some of the way to explaining why so many people are opting for a hybrid then…
However, there’s still some punch to the Edge’s arsenal in the form of the new 2.5-litre petrol engine, with mechanical AWD and an eight-speed automatic. The four-cylinder generates 152kW at 6600rpm and 243Nm between 4000–5000rpm.
The engine itself is relatively tech-heavy, too, with intelligent dual variable valve timing and D-4S direct and port fuel injection.
The AWD system is controlled by what Toyota calls AWD Integrated Management (AIM), and it’s clever enough to direct 100 per cent of the drive to the front, or a proper 50:50 split front to rear.
It reacts to driving conditions, and aims for drive and efficiency depending on what is going on beneath the RAV. The system also has dynamic torque management to monitor the amount of torque that is sent to either the front left or right wheel.
The Edge also gets drive modes to cover ‘Mud and Sand’, ‘Rock and Dirt’ and ‘Snow’. As you’d assume, this system changes throttle sensitivity, changes the way torque is delivered, sharpens or softens shift points, and includes a hill descent assist feature as well.
In short, this is the RAV4 you buy if you’re actually going to do any off-road driving. It might not be a 70 Series, but it’s the most capable RAV4 in the range.
Edge gets 19-inch alloy wheels, black finishes externally, as well as redesigned front and rear bumpers and impact plates. The door handles are colour-coded, and the paint finish you see on our test vehicle is a new colour as well.
Inside the cabin, the orange highlights are exclusive to this trim grade, and other highlights include: an 8.0-inch touchscreen, DAB+ radio, satellite navigation, rear-view camera, wireless phone charger, 7.0-inch digital driver display, power driver’s seat, and JBL nine-speaker system with boot-mounted subwoofer.
The ADR fuel claim is a decent 7.3L/100km on the combined cycle. Our average was an even litre over that at 8.3L/100km after a week of driving. We saw that number drop into the high sixes on the freeway, so you can expect to sit a little either side of our test result depending on the driving you do.
It’s here, on the subject of real-world fuel consumption, that the RAV4 hybrid punches hardest. We’ve used as little as 5.2L/100km around town in the hybrid – genuinely noteworthy for a proper medium SUV that can easily handle family duties.
The cabin is foremost comfortable. The front seats edge toward sporty, but they aren’t too firm and the bolstering is near perfect. A few of us at CA reported that they were comfortable on test.
There’s also plenty of space for adults in the second row, not so much three across, but certainly two across. The Honda CR-V has always been a standout in this segment in terms of second-row space, and the RAV4 is now right up there with it.
Storage is well catered for also, and perhaps just as importantly it’s cleverly placed, too. The cupholders in the centre console don’t get in the way when you are using them, and the door pockets are useful. Likewise, the charging pad for your smartphone, which doubles as a safe place to store it even if you aren’t charging.
The luggage area is also well suited to family use – 580L with the second row in use and a sturdy retractable cover to keep things out of sight. Fold down those 60/40 seats in the second row and you open the space out to 1690L – crucially with an almost-flat load floor and effectively no lip at the opening either.
While I’m the first to advocate that family buyers look outside SUVs where possible, it’s hard to argue with the choice of a medium SUV when you weigh up those factors above – a comfortable and versatile driver/passenger section, plenty of room in the second row, and a flexible luggage space.
You could argue that driving dynamics aren’t as important in a family vehicle as they are in some other classes, but the RAV4 is better now than it arguably ever has been.
The naturally aspirated four-cylinder is nothing if not effortless in both its power delivery and the way it feels from behind the wheel. The eight-speed auto – conventional rather than CVT – is as smooth as the best torque converter offerings out there.
We found the RAV4 to be punchy off the mark, with sharp throttle response, but crucially not too sharp. In this day of stop/start technology, it’s common to test vehicles with dopey pick-up from a standstill and doughy throttle response.
The RAV4 Edge isn’t one of them. You activate Sport mode with a tap on the trans’ controller and that sharpens things up even more, but I didn’t really feel the need to be using it.
The RAV4 feels stout more than nimble, but the counter is how solid it feels. It actually feels like it is carved from stone – as Toyotas tend to do. You won’t be fooled into thinking you’re driving a sports SUV by any means, but I’m not sure that’s a factor in this end of the market anyway.
The best in this segment have traditionally erred on the side of ride comfort and compliance rather than sporty handling, too, and once again the RAV4 has nailed that brief with ease. Despite the 19-inch tyres, the RAV glides over Sydney’s poor roads in comfort thanks also to the impressive damper tune. Unruffled is the best way to describe it, and as such it feels more premium inside the cabin, too.
One area where the RAV could be even more premium is noise insulation inside the cabin. On coarse-chip rural roads, up above 80km/h, you do get some tyre noise entering what is an otherwise quiet cabin.
I’ve always thought that one way to describe premium is silence. Thudding a door closed and being able to isolate the outside world adds to that sense of quality. The RAV4 is good, but it could be better.
The RAV4’s attraction to numerous audible warnings when you’re cruising around is either helpful or infuriating, depending on your read of the situation. For mine, I’d rather quieten them down, but you need to work your way through a deep menu system in the control centre to get a handle on it. Still, you can do it, it just takes time.
The RAV4 Edge is covered by a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and services come up every 12 months or 15,000km. There is a capped-price scheme at just $210 per service for the first four visits.
There’s little doubt in my mind that the RAV4 is the best all-round family SUV in the segment, and it’s there by some margin. Value is one factor, but so are those of space, quality, versatility and comfort.
The question you need to ask is whether you will use the extra drive modes and ‘proper’ AWD system that you get with the Edge, or whether you’d prefer the efficiency of the hybrid drivetrain.
I’d go hybrid, but then I’d be using the RAV around town, never taking it off-road. If you do need the chops that the Edge has, it will do exactly what you want it to do without raising a sweat. I’d say that’s mission accomplished.