Toyota has reached another milestone as it presents the first Toyota RAV4 Hybrid as part of its updated RAV4 range. Twenty years ago, the RAV4 was introduced as a niche. But as we all know, the crossover segment has massively grown into a major category.
Back then, the RAV4 was applauded as a pioneer with the versatility of a SUV and the type of handling that can only be offered by a car. It also didn’t hurt that it used up lesser fuel and it was very comfortable to ride in. But now, Toyota has once again taken the lead with the launch of the RAV4 Hybrid as part of its 2016 lineup.
A sporty SE grade will also be a new entry in this line. If you recall, the Prius arrived only a few short years after the RAV4 made its debut. This model would later become so successful that it has earned the title of the top-selling hybrid vehicle in the world. With the addition of the 2016 RAV4, there will now be eight models in Toyota’s hybrid lineup.
There are six more from Toyota’s luxury division, Lexus. Targeted at singles, small families or young people in relationships, the RAV4 Hybrid offers so much for the active lifestyle with its styling, capabilities, functionalities, and flexibility. The younger generation is known to prioritize fuel economy and the new hybrid doesn’t disappoint.
It’s anticipated that both of the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid models will be able to attain EPA ratings of 34 mpg city / 31 mpg highway / 33 mpg combined. There are two premium grades available: XLE and Limited. Meanwhile, the gas variant of the new RAV4 has four grades -- LE, XLE, Limited and the new SE. Just because you’re choosing a hybrid doesn’t mean that you’re compromising on power. In fact, the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid packs plenty of power and quickly accelerates.
The two Hybrid grades feature an Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel-Drive System with intelligence (AWD-i). This all-weather capability is offered as standard equipment. Traction is maintained by a second, independent electric motor that powers the rear wheels when needed. Toyota claims that like all of its hybrids, the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid offers smooth glitch-less performance as well as impressive economy.
Like all Toyotas, it’s highly dependable. These qualities are credited to the Hybrid Synergy Drive that Toyota has been using. Powering the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid is a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine that works alongside a compact high-torque electric motor via its one-of-a-kind transaxle. This set-up generates a combined 194 system hp.
Power is provided seamlessly by either alternating the gas engine and electric motor or in combination as required. These shifts happen so impeccably that the drivers don’t notice any difference in how it performs. The RAV4 Hybrid is capable of accelerating from a standstill to 60mph in only 8.1 seconds (almost a second faster than the gas versions).
However, what makes it more interesting is the effect of the 206 lb.-ft. of total system torque in daily driving. Because of regenerative braking, the shift is made from electric motor to a generator that draws in the kinetic energy of the wheels that are still turning after the driver presses on the brakes.
This energy is captured in the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) hybrid battery pack. To save on fuel, the driver can choose one of a few operating modes in the RAV4 Hybrid. By selecting ECO mode (which is an option on both Hybrid and Gas variants), throttle response is optimized and even the air conditioning output is adjusted in order to boost fuel economy. In certain instances, the RAV4 Hybrid would be in EV mode.
It will then be solely powered by the electric motor for as far as 0.6 miles at lower speeds (slower than 25 mph). The driver will know exactly how to be as efficient with its fuel as possible via a 4.2-inch TFT screen that displays a Hybrid System Indicator as well as a fuel consumption indicator. The exterior’s style has been updated to become sleeker and appear more dynamic.
The front fascia has a bolder look, which is highlighted by an LED package composed of daytime running lights, headlights, and Hi-Lo Headlights. Its profile now has a more fluid flow as the front and rear bumpers have been restyled to have new rocker panels on the sides.
Customers can get LED taillights to give their hybrid model a more luxurious feel. Other features that enhance styling include new front and rear silver skid plate on most of the variants as well as restyled wheels and a standard shark fin antenna fitted on all of the grades.
Three colors have been added to its palette: Silver Sky Metallic, Electric Storm Blue, and Black Currant Metallic. On several grades, a 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display is seen on the modified gauge cluster. But buyers may decide to fit a 7-inch touch-sensitive display audio touch screen in their units if they want to.
The convenience of the driver and the occupants is raised with the following features: LED lights on the lower center console, a 12V power outlet located in the rear, and an updated cup holder that can now fit in tall mugs that have handles. It also has a special holder perfect for sunglasses.
The RAV4 is equipped with a 2.5-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine that produces 176 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 172 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,100 rpm. When mated to a standard six-speed automatic transmission, it results to EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 24 mpg city / 31 mpg highway/26 mpg combined.
Meanwhile, the EPA estimates are 22/29/25 mpg with Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel Drive. The premium models have various operating modes for the driver to choose from. Fuel economy is maximized when the driver chooses Select Eco mode.
Using Sport mode leads to sharper shift timing and steering feel as well as better throttle response. By downshifting, the throttle gets “blipped” and this maintains the smoothness of the drive. The Sport mode on the RAV4 models with Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel Drive makes the vehicle more agile as torque distribution is enhanced.
Pricing on the 2016 RAV4 gas models begins at $24,350 for the LE 2WD and goes up to $32,910 for the AWD Limited. On the other hand, the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid has a price range that starts at $28,370 for the AWD XLE and goes up to $33,610 for the AWD Limited.
Buyers have to pay $900 on top of the MSRP for the delivery, processing, and handling (DPH) costs. But take note that there is a variation in the DPH amounts for vehicles that are being shipped by Southeast Toyota (SET) and Gulf States Toyota (GST).