Words: Don Cheng
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: March 10, 2016
It is no secret that compact crossovers have one of the hottest markets in the entire industry. Although Toyota invented the segment back in 1996 with their cute ute RAV4, the company has since been fighting from behind, generation after generation. Ford’s Escape has been the segment leader in Canada, with the CR-V a close second. The fourth generation RAV4 certainly has its work cut out for it. To make sure it’s up to snuff, the brand has given the crossover a facelift for the 2016 model year including for the first time, a hybrid RAV4.
Draped in the aptly named “Electric Storm Blue”, the RAV4 hybrid debuted at the 2015 New York Auto Show showing off the eighth hybrid in Toyota’s portfolio as well as the RAV4’s new face: featuring a higher hood line, thinner grill, and down swept headlights. The front bumper’s lines turn upwards giving the car a scowl. In the rear, the bumper finally loses the chintzy off-colour plastic that looked straight from an early 2000’s era Dodge.
Thankfully, the interior layout of the RAV4 had been good from the start and as the saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. As such, the cabin design carries over from the previous model year with the exception of Cinnamon coloured seating and a 4.2-inch info display in the instrument cluster.
My colleagues know how much of a fan I am of Cinnamon interiors (I’d be happy to accept a Cinnamon leather driver’s seat from an E46 M3 as a desk chair). Seeing the RAV4 receive a similar colourway brought a smile to my face every time I stepped inside. Adorned and furnished with soft-touch surfaces and meticulously stitched leather, the RAV4 feels decidedly more upscale than its predecessor.
Perhaps the best part about the hybrid's layout is the clever hiding of the batteries. Tucked away neatly under the rear seats, rear cargo space remains nearly identical to its gasoline variants. A total of 80 litres of storage space behind the rear seats is sacrificed with the hybrid drivetrain, but they still fold flat.
Under the hood of the hybrid sits Toyota’s Atkinson-cycle 2.5-litre inline-4 producing 150 hp and 154 lb-ft of torque. Working in conjunction with a 141 hp electric motor, the system drives the front wheels for a combined output total of 194 hp. The system is almost identical to the RAV4’s platform cousin – the Lexus NX 300h.
What makes this RAV4 different from other Toyota Hybrids – namely the Prius – is the other 67 hp electric motor driving the rear wheels. When the front wheels detects slip, the electric motor in the rear kicks in to compensate. Unlike traditional AWD that sends power to the rear, the RAV4’s two drive lines are separate but work in sync in a jam. Toyota calls this system AWD-I and in case you haven’t guessed it by now, the “I” stands for intelligence.
Behind the wheel, the RAV4 is poles apart from its gasoline powered brothers. Starting the car is radically different: it’s eerily silent. Toyota has worked hard to pack the hybrid with more sound deadening materials, acoustic glass, and of course the EV start of the hybrid drivetrain. Even so, on a cold winter day when EV mode isn’t enough, the car only shudders briefly as the 4-cylinder fires up before settling down to a quiet idle – a polarizing occurrence compared to the start of its predecessor, which rattled and buzzed loudly.
Acceleration is also unlike the typical RAV4. Power comes on smoothly but the entire car remains calm and quiet. The CVT keeps the ride smooth – albeit with lots of rubber banding, and the car races up to city speeds thanks to all that torque available immediately from the electric motor.
Let off the gas pedal and the car will use the momentum to charge the built in battery, but unlike the BMW i3, the regenerative braking on the RAV4 hybrid is barely noticeable. Give the brakes a tap and the regenerative braking rears its head with a strong initial bite. The rest of the pedal is easy to modulate for a smooth driving experience.
Regular RAV4’s have 5 trim levels to choose from. The hybrid however only has two: XLE and Limited. As tested, this Limited model comes fully loaded will all the bells and whistles found in modern day luxury cars. Features like surround view cameras, front and rear facing parking sensors, dynamic cruise control, lane departure alert, and a premium JBL 11-speaker sound system are all available with the $2,675 tech package.
As tested, this RAV4 Limited comes out to a grand total of $41,190. Over $40,000 for a RAV4 might sound like a crazy number, but few cars on the road today provide the same level of all round goodness that this Hybrid hits. Offering plenty of cargo space, good looks, and reliable efficiency (you’d be surprised how hard it is to find those three things in a car) the RAV4 hybrid has the makings of a great family crossover. It may be pricey but it is certainly worth checking out.
型号 Model: 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited
顏色 Paint Type: Electric Storm Blue
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $38,515
試車售價 Price as Tested: $41,190
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,660
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,600 / 1,845 / 1,705
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,775
引擎 Engine: 2.5 Litre, 4-Cylinder, DOHC, 16-Valve, Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i), two permanent-magnet synchronous AC motors, 1.6 kWh Nikel-Metal-Hydride battery pack
最大馬力 Horsepower: 194 hp (net)
最高扭力 Torque: 151 lb-ft
波箱 Transmission: CVT
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD-I
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 6.9 / 7.6
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 7.8
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Front P225/65R17; Rear P235/55R18