(Contributing Editor: Peter Stamatis)

Timeline of Current Non-Truck Based Current Best Selling Passenger Vehicle in America.

1994 – XA10 1st generation Toyota RAV4 debuts. The world’s first volume compact crossover SUV is derived from the Corolla sedan platform. The model acronym = Recreational Activity Vehicle 4 -Wheel Drive. Launched as a 3-door. In 1996 a 94.9″ wheelbase 5-door variant was offered in the U.S. Californians could opt for an EV version. Rear door = swing gate with a full spare mounted.

2000 – XA20 2nd generation RAV4 adopts a truck-ish wagon design, growing to 98″ wheelbase. Available exclusively in 5-door configuration in North America, along with the VW New Beetle, it quickly becomes the most popular new vehicle among women.

2005 – XA30 3rd generation RAV4 = New MC Corolla platform. Wheelbase stretches to 105″.  Overall length = 18″ > than the Mk. 1 RAV4. The Mk. 3 RAV4 is one of the first passenger vehicles with electric power steering assist. Manual transmissions were nixed. A gas 3.5L DOHC V-6 engine and 3rd row seating were on offer. A 2nd generation California fleet EV variant featured a Tesla Motors powertrain.

2012XA40 4th generation RAV4 lives on its predecessor’s bones but wears more dramatically creased car-like look. Wheelbase notches upwards. Notably the swing gate is swapped for a liftgate. Thus the external full spare = no more. The V-6 option = no longer. The Mk.4 iteration was designed from the ground-up to accommodate Toyota’s own Hybrid Drive powertrain. By the 2016 model year RAV4 overtook the venerable Camry as the best selling non-truck based nameplate in America.

HOT OFF THE PRESS: Roadblazing.com issues it’s take on the 5th Generation successor to the most popular non-truck based passenger vehicle in America:  the all new 2019 Toyota RAV4 (Recreational Activity Vehicle 4-wheel drive).

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WHAT: 2019 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD 2-Row, compact family crossover sport utility vehicle.

Standard Power: 2487 cc, dual VVT-i DOHC 16V inline-4 cylinder gasoline engine: 206 horsepower / 184 lb-ft torque

8-speed torque converter, planetary automatic transaxle

(Available): PTU to viscous multi-clutch differential, rear prop shaft disconnect, torque vectoring, Muti-Terrain select All-Wheel Drive.

WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: 5th Generation XA50 variant of modular TNGA K-platform, shared with Toyota Avalon; replacing 4th Generation Corolla-based MC platform XA40. Wheelbase = 10″+ > 1st Generation XA10 series.

Car-based RAV4 demands truck-like recognition with vertically right-angle, layered wide hexagonal slatted grille & trapezoid grated mid-fascia, with vestiges of a lower hood snorkel.

 Front fenders and dual creased rear quarter panels flare for prominent wheel arches.  Swept-back LED headlamp housings commence beveled cheat line, rising tangentially to the C-pillar.

Thin, then flared D-pillar inlined by lower piano black fangs to upper body-color matching roof spoiler. Kammback rear liftgate split by sub-window chrome bar, spanning to underline inner arrow shaped taillight. Directionals wrap around quarter panels.  Beveled and recessed lower center liftgate license plate field.

 Front and rear simulated matte metallic skid plates w/ dark cladding stripes, and dark lower full body, lower liftgate & wheel arch cladding; √  Dual oval chrome tipped exhaust outlets.

Roadblazing.com spies elements of a Toyota Tacoma pick-up front, and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV rear.

WHY: America’s No. 1 selling non -truck derived passenger vehicle now looks all truck-like

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since late Late Fall 2018

WHERE: Toyota new vehicle dealers

WHERE MADE: Toyota City, Aichi, Japan

WHERE TO:   [Available] electronic on-demand all-wheel drive, varies front/ rear traction from nominal 100/0% to maximum 50/50%;  Rear wheel torque vectoring;  ABS descent control;  +1 ; 8.6″-inches clearance = 2.3″ > 2018 RAV4;

Multi-Terrain Select = console dial AWD lock for Mud & Sand or Rock & Dirt modes = w/o undercarriage protection = Moderate Muck Negotiating

HOW ROADWORTHY:  Direct Shift 8-speed transaxle, a modern rapid torque converter locking unit, lacks not for smoothness, and presses for higher rev holds in Sport mode. Enthusiastic engine braking, however = Not Included. High naturally aspirated torque peak requires heavier throttle for get-up-and-go, though highway passing gains authority with the horsepower increase.

TNGA platform allows extra rigidity for the ground clearance increase without tall ground clearance jounce. Damping on the front strut, rear upper link lower wishbone set-up is still tuned for comfort, but with sufficient aversion to initial roll motions. Despite large 19″ rollers, rather linear winding steering defies any road sensation. Urgent slowing friction wants late in the otherwise gratifying brake pedal’s travel.

Taller stance is impressively unaffected by wind, while road and powertrain sounds seemed to have been entirely and eerily banished.

HOW FAR: 26 miles per gallon, mixed fuel economy; 464 mile highway range.

HOW BIG/ LITTLE: 5 Occupant 2+3 seating. Among the largest of compact family crossover SUVs.

– For Comparison’s Sake:

  • 106.4″-inch Wheelbase: 1.2″ > Honda CR-V, 0.8″ > Hyundai Tuscon, 0.8″ > Subaru Forester
  • Maximum cargo capacity: 11% > Chevrolet Equinox, 8% > Mazda CX-5, 8% < Honda CR-V
  • 2nd Row legroom: 1.1″ > Nissan Rogue, 0.9″, 0.4″ < Subaru Forester, 1.2″ < Ford Escape

HOW USEFUL: +1  Above glovebox storage shelf; Sliding 2nd Row seat cushions; Flat folding 2nd Row tilting seatbacks; √  +1 Deep center armrest; +1 High perch forward view; -1 No remote cargo bay 2nd or 3rd row seatback fold releases; -1 Tow Rating: 1500 lbs.

HOW SAFE: 8 airbags; Rear camera; STANDARD Toyota SafetySense 2.0 = Pedestrian detection braking; Forward collision avoidance braking; Lane Departure Warning, Keep Assist w/ Trace Control; Partial adaptive cruise control, Automatic High Beams; LIMITED GRADE ADVANCED TECH: 360° Surround Camera View Perimeter Scan w/ park assist.

HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: Perforated Softex seating – heated Rows 1 + 2 outboard, cooled Row 1; Wide seat cushions Power 8-way driver’s seat, w/ 2-position memory Heated Leather steering wheel with spoke integrated redundant controls;  Keyless entry, ignition; Full express power windows x 4; 2nd Row privacy glass; +1 Wide center armrest; +1 Generous steering wheel reach adjustment; +1 Long haul lower back front seat support; -1 Tall liftgate lift-height;  Cup holders x 4;  Door bottle holders x 4.

Cool Gizmo(s): Above glovebox, mid-dashboard shelf; Surround View Camera Perimeter Scan; Panoramic moon roof w/ power shade; Soothing blue foot well & door panel ambient lighting;

Details Done Right Truck-like oversized, helical serrated climate control dials  Contrast stitched contrasting dark brown simulated leather soft-material dash & door panel inserts; Fine grain soft and hard plastics; Rigid ABS load floor panel;

Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Hard dashboard top; -1 Embossed stitching on steering wheel boss, dash cover & armrest;

HOW “APP” -LICABLE: 8″ capacitive touch LCD 3-pane infotainment screen flanked by large soft-touch button switches; Adaptive voice command hands-free communications; GPS HDD Navigation Entune 3.0 wireless apps: Slacker, I-Heart, Destination search, Facebook, Yelp, Movie Tickets, Doppler weather, Traffic Updates, Sports, Fuel Prices, Stock values; Siri Eyes;  Apple CarPlay; USB x 5, 12V x 1.

Audibly: 11 speaker, 800 W JBL HD-radio, streaming audio w/ Clari-Fi = bass boom

By Subscription: Sirius XM ( 90 days incl.);  4G LTE by Verizon (2GB within 120 days incl.); Safety Connect, Remote Connect (3 yrs. incl.)

HOW MUCH: $39,034 = 2019 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD

WHAT’S MISSING: Larger center stack climate switch buttons.

ANY COMPETITION: Chevrolet Equinox: +1 optional engine power, handling, cabin IT; Ford Escape: +1 optional engine power, steering, infotainment; Hyundai Tuscon: +1 DCT, intuitive cockpit layout; Kia Sportage: +1 Sports car styling; Mazda CX-5: +1 taughtly responsive, cabin finish; Nissan Rogue: +1 compliant ride, fuel economy; Subaru Forester: +1 Symmetrical AWD layout, wagon feel.