Toyota’s European customers are likely excited with the announcement that the company will be launching a new compact SUV in this rather highly competitive market. The RAV4 Hybrid is the brand’s latest offering to the C-SUV segment.
The Electric all-wheel drive (E-Four) system that powers the RAV4 Hybrid is considered a first for vehicles offered by Toyota in Europe. The high-speed and 50 kW rear electric motor allows AWD capability even without a central prop shaft.
Its front electric motor meanwhile can operate independently of the hybrid system and can also drive the rear wheels. With the E-Four system, the RAV 4 is capable of switching to an AWD from a stationary start or when driving on slippery surfaces.
As such, the E-Four system not only maintains controllability and stability but even maximizes them. With the traction optimized as well, driving under very demanding conditions is possible. By efficiently utilizing power, the E-Four system can generate the needed drive torque that results not just in the benefits already mentioned previously but also helps improve fuel economy making it considerably better than other AWD vehicles on the market.
However, the advantages that the E-Four system gives do not stop there. It even provides a rather significant extra traction that enhances recreational benefits. Of course, it also has that 1,650 towing capacity, one of the highest there is, which is especially remarkable for a hybrid vehicle.
The hybrid system itself is one of a kind as well with Atkinson Cycle 2.5-liter petrol engine, generator, electric motor, power split device, and power control unit. It even has a 204-cell nickel-metal hydride battery placed underneath its rear seats.
For the AWD model, the E-four system is supported by a rear-mounted second electric motor. The effect is that no weight is added, less cost is incurred, and the central prop shaft is less complex. Total output of the system is 145 kW/197 hp with an 8.7-second acceleration time from 0 to 100 km/h with top speed of 180 km/h.
Despite all these power, fuel consumption is kept at 4.9 l/100 km based on the European homologation combined cycle and CO2 emissions lowered at 115 g/km. The Hybrid system allows the use of either the electric motor or the petrol engine and it can even use power by combining the two.
Thus, the efficiency of the two units is maximized, ensuring optimum balance in the fuel efficiency and driving performance. When the RAV 4 is braking or even decelerating, the electric motors function as a high-output generator in order to have regenerative braking. What this means is that when vehicles brake, the kinetic energy already produced is typically wasted in the form of heat.
However under this system, kinetic energy is instead recovered and the electrical energy is stored which can later be used by the battery. With the help of its Shift-by-Wire technology, the E-CVT electric variable transmission is controlled by utilizing the electronic shift lever system.
In order to increase the capability of the RAV 4 Hybrid to its fullest, it has four ‘on-demand’ drive modes. The EV mode, in particular, ensures that all the power is from the electric motor; thereby allowing for a more quiet drive with the added benefits of zero fuel consumption and lowered CO2, PM, and NOx emissions. In general, the hybrid powertrain is intended to remove the need for a petrol engine especially when driving in the city.