Eight is enough (for now) in Toyota’s hybrid lineup
Toyota clearly has more hybrid models than anyone else — eight of them, in fact. It’s almost easier to mention which models in Toyota’s lineup aren’t available as hybrids. For the record, those would mostly include trucks. And up until now, the Toyota RAV4 compact crossover was one of them. No more.
Toyota plans to sell close to 300,000 RAV4s in 2016 and expects the RAV4 Hybrid to make up about 10-15 percent of them. The new RAV4 is the only compact crossover in this class available as a hybrid, so it’s fairly unique. The RAV4 was last made new back in 2013, and this hybrid model benefits from a midlife refresh of the trucklet.
Compared to the old RAV4, this new one has improved sealing and NVH countermeasures like increased sound- and vibration-damping material on the floor. The rear suspension has new mounts and more spot welds to stiffen up the structure and, according to Toyota, better isolate rear seat passengers from road irregularities. All four corners receive a retuned suspension, too. The RAV4 appears a bit more butch on the outside, with a new nose and raised hoodline to appear a little more aggressive.
The RAV4 Hybrid follows Toyota’s conventional hybrid powertrain arrangement. In fact, the powertrain has been pulled, virtually unchanged, from the $40,000 Lexus NX300h. However, the RAV4 is slightly lighter, so here’s a case where the less-expensive model is probably a little quicker.
Under the hood is a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder, that when paired to the 105 kW electric motor, generates 194 total system hp and 206 lb-ft of system torque. That power flows through a planetary gear set CVT with six “speeds” in sport mode, and on to a second electric motor that drives the rear wheels when needed. The nickel-metal hydride battery pack sits behind the rear seat and is the same one used in the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Cargo capacity is compromised slightly by the pack. But that’s one metric where the RAV4 has always been near the top of its class. So, even though the maximum cargo capacity is reduced by around 3 cubic feet, it still has a cavernous 70.6 cubic feet to haul your stuff.
The updated interior provides comfort for passengers.
What’s it like to drive?
Around town, the RAV4 Hybrid is a sweet-natured crossover with a comfy and quiet ride. The hybrid’s EV mode makes for silent running up to 25 mph. Drive with a gentle right foot and the system can maintain electric-only operation up to around a half mile and return a solid 33 mpg combined, up from 25 mpg combined on the conventional all-wheel-drive RAV4.
Dig deeper into the throttle and there’s enough torque for most everything this hybrid will ever be asked to do. Still, this is no machine for the hot-blooded horsepower junkie. After all, even though the hybrid system shaves about a second off the acceleration times of a gas RAV4, the stroll to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds still isn’t very quick.
On the wonderfully twisty ribbon of
The Hybrid is only available in the RAV4’s top two trim levels — XLE and Limited. So there’s no shortage of soft-touch materials or equipment. A 7-inch touchscreen is standard on both models. And Limited models wear larger 18-inch wheels, heated leather seats and are equipped with blind-spot monitoring and
2016 Toyota RAV4 SE AWD
Do I want it?
As a fuel-efficient way to haul a small family, the RAV4 Hybrid makes sense. One benefit of having eight hybrid models under the