Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Toyota has more hybrid models than any other automaker. It’s easier to list the models in their lineup that aren’t available as hybrids – those mostly include trucks – than it is to tell you what isn’t available as a hybrid. Until now, the Toyota RAV4 was only available with a gasoline engine, but that’s about to change. The compact crossover is available as a hybrid model beginning in 2016.

Toyota plans to sell nearly 300,000 RAV4s during 2016, and they expect the hybrid model to make up about 10-15% of those sales. This new RAV4 is unique, as it is the only compact crossover in its class that is available as a hybrid. The last redesign of the RAV4 came back in 2013, and this new hybrid will definitely benefit from a midlife refresh.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Compared to the old RAV4, this new model will have new mounts for the rear suspension and more spot welds to solidify the structure. Toyota also claims that these adjustments will help to isolate the rear seat passengers from irregularities in the road. It also has improved sealing and noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) countermeasures, like increased sound-and-vibration-damping material on the floor. All four corners of the vehicle have retuned suspension as well.

On the outside, the new RAV4 appears more aggressive, with a raised hoodline and a new nose. The front-end includes new fog lights and a new front bumper. It is also equipped with a new skid plate on the rear bumper and updated rear lights. The powertrain has been pulled, virtually unchanged, from the Lexus NX300h. The RAV4 is slightly lighter, so in this case the less-expensive version is probably going to be a little quicker.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Under the hood of the RAV4 Hybrid, you’ll find a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine that pairs with a 105 kW electric motor to generate 194 horsepower and 206 lb.-ft. of torque. The power flows through a planetary gear set continuously variable transmission and on to a second electric motor that powers the rear wheels when necessary.

The nickel-metal hydride battery pack is stored behind the rear seat. It’s the same battery used in the popular Toyota Camry Hybrid. This takes away a small amount of cargo space, but the RAV4 has always been near the top of its class in cargo space, so losing a bit of room shouldn’t deter consumers. The battery takes away about 3 cubic feet of cargo space, but you’re still left with 70.6 cubic feet to haul all your groceries and supplies.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is only available in the top two trim levels: XLE and Limited. That means there is no shortage of amenities in this crossover. Both models come standard with a 7-inch touchscreen, and Limited models are equipped with larger 18-inch wheels, blind-spot monitoring, heating leather seats, and Toyota’s Safety Sense technology package. Buyers can also opt for the Advanced Tech package, which includes a Bird’s Eye View camera system that expertly stitches together a 360-degree view and allows a perimeter scan of anything that may be in the vehicle’s way.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The green version of the Toyota RAV4 is the most fuel-efficient all wheel drive hybrid SUV on the market, and also gets the best gas mileage of any vehicle in its class. Expect about 33 miles per gallon according to EPA estimates. The RAV4 Hybrid XLE runs $28,370 while the upgraded Limited edition starts at $33,610. The official RAV4 website can be found at http://www.toyota.com/rav4/.

 

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