2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SUV Review

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The rise of the Hybrid SUV is coming, and Toyota is leading the way with its new RAV4 Hybrid…

Review

What is it?

The RAV4 is Toyota's longstanding seller in the mid-sized SUV segment. The latest generation model is more refined than ever and is now available with Toyota’s proven hybrid technology. There’s no doubt about it, the petrol and electric-powered RAV4 Hybrid is a breath of fresh air in the SUV segment where the vast majority of its rivals are diesel-powered. The Hybrid will most likely appeal to those who value low running costs and a truly tranquil driving experience, but that said, it’s considerably more expensive than the entry diesel models. Carzone recently spent time with the RAV4 Hybrid to see just how much it differs from the norm.

What is it like?

The RAV4 is sleekly styled on the outside with new silver trim on the front and rear bumpers, a restyled front grille and new LED headlights. On the Hybrid model, subtle blue detailing in the Toyota badges hints at its electric genes, while inside it’s incredibly spacious up front with sturdy plastics, soft touch leather on the dash and the cabin feels quite airy and bright.

Thanks to its high ground clearance, the RAV4 gives a commanding view of the road and the dashboard leans towards the driver making it easy to reach. The LCD touch screen disply is easy to read and features clear buttons and switchgear, although it isn’t quite as vibrant or interesting as its rivals. There are plenty of storage areas throughout the cabin with cubby holes, cup holders and a useful area under the dash to set down a smartphone. Rear seat passengers will certainly be kept happy on longer journeys as there is ample leg and head room even when the front seats are pushed back, while boot space for the hybrid comes in at 501 litres, slightly less due to addition of a battery pack beneath the floor.

On paper, the RAV4 Hybrid’s powertrain makes for an interesting proposition. It is powered by a 2.5-litre petrol engine in conjunction with an electric motor that produce a combined power output of 194bhp. This means 0-100km/h is possible in just over 8 seconds; quite impressive for an SUV, and a particularly green one at that! Torque isn’t as strong as the regular diesel RAV4 however, which means it has to be revved hard to accelerate quickly. Whether in petrol or electric mode, the RAV4 Hybrid is impressively quiet on the road, and the suspension does a good job of soaking up bumps on back roads and giving good feel through turns, though the regenerative braking system which charges the battery does take getting used to.

The RAV4 Hybrid is sure to please Irish buyers with its low Co2 emissions output and strong fuel economy. The front-wheel drive version that we drove returned 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres in economy while annual motor tax comes in at €200. There are three levels of specification to choose from with Luna, Luna Sport (which we drove) and Sol, and all are well equipped at this price point, with lots of safety features, cruise control and keyless entry the highlights. Our Luna Sport test car featured nice additions such as 18-inch black five-spoke alloy wheels and heated seats inside.

Carzone verdict: 4/5

For such a large and spacious SUV, the RAV4 Hybrid is incredibly efficient and affordable to run. The only other mid-sized SUV on the market right now which is comparable to it in terms of technology is Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV, but that’s a Plug-In Hybrid and over €10k more expensive. Many buyers will opt for the cheaper diesel-engine RAV4 over the Hybrid, but this is where Toyota is concentrating all of its development and it definitely shows in the driving experience. So far in 2016, 10 percent of all RAV4 models sold in Ireland are Hybrid-powered and we can only see this growing into 2017 as awareness of the model grows with Irish buyers. The rise of the Hybrid SUV is coming, and it's clear to see that Toyota is already leading the way.

Test Car Details:

Model driven: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Luna Sport

Prices from: €37,950

Price as tested: €39,850

Annual Road Tax: €200

Engine: 2494cc four-cylinder Petrol/Electric Hybrid

Power/Torque: 194bhp, 210Nm

Top Speed: 180 km/h

0-100km/h: 8.2 seconds

Transmission: Automatic

Body style: 5-Door SUV

Boot Space: 501 litres

Euro NCAP Safety Rating: 5 Stars