Stick Shift: 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWD

The RAV4 has been around for quite some time. In its life cycle with Toyota, it’s managed to stay on top of the small SUV market. Not just surviving amongst an ever increasing pool of competitors, but leading the pack in sales. In its many years of existence, the RAV4 has specced itself to fill a broad range of purposes. From standard issue, hybrid model and luxury. Finally, we have a surprisingly adept solution for the adventure seeker. Cue the music, curtain up on the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure. Maybe the most extreme version on the wide RAV4 spectrum to date.

With a clear nod to it bigger brother, the RAV4 adventure has rugged lines and squared off proportions. Starting with a 4Runner inspired wide front grille. 19” alloy wheels are accented in matte black. A prominent front skid plate sits below integrated fog lights. Adventure ready roof rails are ready to support bikes, kayaks, or whatever else your adrenaline hungry heart desires. 

On the inside, a handsomely assembled interior is laid out in a clear and orderly fashion. Bright orange stitching and interior panels are playfully splashed around. Contrasting wonderfully against the range of grays otherwise implemented. From light in the seats to dark around the doors and dash. 

Photo via: Toyota

While rugged good looks and sharp interiors are all fine and well, does this RAV4 adventure bring the necessary hardware to back up the big claims being made with all that adventure badging? Thankfully, it does. It may not be as extremely equipped as say the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. But the RAV4 adventure can tackle more rough road than the bulk of its small SUV peers. Allow me to explain how. 

First, a new torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system comes equipped. Complete with  multi-terrain drive modes with specific settings for mud/sand, rocks/dirt and snow. This dynamic electromechanical mix earns the system the title Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD. This combination is extremely helpful when tackling a myriad of off-road challenges. Critical to its success is that its clutch can open, allowing all of the available rear torque to go to the tire that has grip. If the other tire is slipping and finds itself without. The wheel with grip ends up with more torque than it would in a more traditional system that brakes the slipping wheel instead. 

In addition to this, the RAV4 Adventure model gets intelligent clearance sonar to keep your undercarriage off the ground. I did find the throttle to be on the laggy side. The 8-speed transmission hesitated on hard downshifts as well. These were weakness that surfaced at highway speeds more than they would in slow off-road situations.

It’s hard to deny that the Adventure version of the RAV4 will take you further down the trail than any previous model. The impressive off-road tech comes at a cost though. The extra dollar signs elevate the overall sticker price to realms that reach the far more luxuriously appointed Lexus NX. Still built in the RAV4 frame. The whole thing boils down to just how many off-roading excursions you’ll be taking, and if the extra cost constitutes missing out on other vehicles with a lot more polish for a similar price. With this considered, if a small, off-road capable SUV is on your wish list, The 2019 RAV4 Adventure is hard to beat.

Price as tested: $40,263.00

By: Brandon Randall

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