Toyota planning a hybrid version of the Rav4 crossover

Article by Christian Andrei, on December 4, 2012

The Los Angeles Auto Show just concluded but Toyota is already thinking about upgrading the 2013 Toyota RAV4. According to an Auto Express report, Toyota may introduce a hybrid version of the new RAV4 crossover. Toyota RAV4 engineer Yoshikazu Saeki told AE that the company is closely monitoring the market.

He explained that an assessment will be made after the introduction of the new RAV4 and that it’s possible that a hybrid RAV4 will be launched.

Toyota has two other hybrid SUVs already available: the Highlander and Lexus RX. Since the new RAV4 is related to the European Toyota Auris, the task of converting it to hybrid propulsion should be simple. As the Auris Hybrid is available in Europe, it proves that Toyota is already adept at installing a battery pack and electrical parts to that chassis architecture.

The European Toyota Auris Hybrid is powered by a 1.8-liter inline-four gasoline engine with a rating for 98 hp and a 60-kW electric motor, and has a fuel economy rating of 59 mpg. But then, the powertrain would likely be too slow to be used in the bigger and heavier 2013 Toyota RAV4. The Auris Hybrid can accelerate from zero to 60mph in 11.4 seconds.

A hybrid RAV4 may be powered by a beefier engine and motor, like the 156-hp, 2.5-liter gas engine and 105-kW electric motor that the Toyota Camry hybrid already used. In spite of that that, Toyota can’t be expected to hurry the release of a hybrid RAV4 into the market.

The new crossover’s economy ratings are already better than those of most compact crossovers, with the 2013 model being rated at 24/31 mpg (city/highway) with front-wheel drive. A hybrid version will have to achieve a significantly better fuel economy. Development of this version is likely to take many months.

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