For the past few years, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has been one of the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. and now that Toyota has applied the lessons learned from its Prius hybrid to its entry in the compact-SUV class expect that number to grow.
The RAV4 Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that’s assisted by two electric motors for a combined output of 219 horsepower. All-wheel drive is standard—one of the electric motors powers the rear wheels and the second motor and the gasoline engine drive the fronts—as is a continuously variable automatic transmission. Each electric motor supplies immediate torque when you step on the accelerator, 149 lb.-ft. at the front wheels and 89 lb.-ft. at the rear. Regenerative brakes help recharge the RAV4 Hybrid’s battery pack, and unlike some examples of the technology, they work beautifully in terms of pedal feel and response.
Not only is the RAV4 Hybrid more efficient than the unelectrified model, it’s also a touch quicker. As a driver you will feel that pep, too, particularly around town, where the electric motor’s gratifyingly immediate power delivery gives it an extra shove when taking off from a stop. If you want even more performance, the Prime model is happy to oblige of course. When compared with a gas-powered all-wheel-drive RAV4, the hybrid model is far more efficient. The EPA estimates it’ll achieve 41 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 40 mpg combined, beating the regular RAV4 by 14 mpg, 5 mpg, and 11 mpg, respectively.
The RAV4 Hybrid does emit a whirring noise when it’s driving solely on electricity to let pedestrians and cyclists know that an electric vehicle is nearby.
The RAV4 Hybrid’s cabin is well built and nicely outfitted but prioritizes practicality over style. There are plenty of USB ports front and rear so everyone always has power and a selection of cubbies and bins to choose from, you’ll have ample space to stash small cargo, and all of the buttons and controls are easy to find and operate. Toyota throws in plenty of niceties at the base level, such as dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, and a height-adjustable false floor in the cargo area. Going up the trim-level ladder brings luxury features such as heated front and rear seats, ambient interior lighting, and upgraded faux-leather upholstery that Toyota calls SofTex. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has a ton of space, seats up or down. Not messing with the roofline and holding down the beltline allowed Toyota to keep the windows big giving everyone but especially the driver excellent outward visibility in all directions.
LE and XLE models come with a 7.0-inch infotainment display sprouting from its dashboard while XSE and Limited models provide an 8.0-inch screen. The larger display can be had on the XLE model as part of the Audio Plus package. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as well as an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot are all standard. Navigation and an 11-speaker JBL stereo system are available on the XSE and standard on the Limited. Otherwise, you’ll get a six-speaker system. The Toyota‘s Safety Sense suite of active and passive safety systems checks all the boxes and most importantly each kicks in when you might actually need it to.
The RAV4 was built to be the best all-around vehicle for the average consumer, what it lacks in some areas it makes up for in general usability and it does this very well making it a great compact crossover.