Like its gasoline-powered sibling, the RAV4 Hybrid is a force to be reckoned with. It’s an SUV that won’t let you down and delivers all the performance you really need. The Hybrid version will save you a bit more money at the pump while providing even more power. Sounds like a win-win to us.
With class-leading fuel efficiency, safety, and reliability ratings, the RAV4 Hybrid is a juggernaut. It’s the most efficient All Wheel Drive hybrid SUV on the market. It is the only Hybrid SUV that comes standard with advanced safety technology. It won’t just save you money at the pump, it could also save your life. What could be more valuable?
The RAV4 Hybrid is powered by a combination of three engines: a Dual OverHead Cam Atkinson cycle 2.5 Liter inline 4 cylinder that makes 150 hp and 152 lb-ft, two permanent magnet synchronous AC electric motors that make 141 hp and 67 hp. All motors form a combined horsepower rating of 194, enough for a respectable 8.2 second zero to sixty time. That’s not bad for a hybrid with a continuously variable transmission, it’s even quicker than the gas-powered RAV4.
When it comes to handling, you feel the hybrid’s extra weight via excessive body roll when driving a twisty road. The ride is comfortable and smooth, so long as you’re not pushing the SUV hard. Guess what? You can also drive in EV mode, but you’ll only make it about half a mile because it’s not a plugin. The regenerative and hydraulic brakes make for an interesting combination. The changes between the two modes are nearly imperceptible, which is much better than many other hybrids’ brakes.
The RAV4 Hybrid is also only available in All Wheel Drive, making it the most efficient AWD vehicle available with a 31 mpg EPA rating. The RAV4 is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a hybrid that can do more than your average Prius. It’s not particularly sporty nor refined, but it gets the job done efficiently.
The interior of the RAV4 Hybrid is average for the compact class, it’s nicer than the standard RAV4 but not as nice as competitors. There’s an imitation leather dash with contrast stitching that looks impressive upon entering the cabin. However, a few minutes in the RAV4 Hybrid and you’ll take notice of many budget materials. Top trims aren’t exempt either, though there are fewer dummy buttons. The high seating position provides an ample view. Bad backs will be disappointed that the standard seats offer no lumbar support. The simulated leather seats in the top trims aren’t much better but add lumbar support. Ample leg and headroom somewhat mitigate the lack of supportive seats. The rear row can seat adults and reclines for extra comfort, though passengers will rub shoulders if you attempt to fit three. On a positive note, the Entune infotainment system is easy to use and employs one of the simplest smartphone integration
However, a few minutes in the RAV4 Hybrid and you’ll take notice of many budget materials. Top trims aren’t exempt either, though there are fewer dummy buttons. The high seating position provides an ample view. Bad backs will be disappointed that the standard seats offer no lumbar support. The simulated leather seats in the top trims aren’t much better but add lumbar support. Ample leg and headroom somewhat mitigate the lack of supportive seats. The rear row can seat adults and reclines for extra comfort, though passengers will rub shoulders if you attempt to fit three. On a positive note, the Entune infotainment system is easy to use and employs one of the simplest smartphone integration
The simulated leather seats in the top trims aren’t much better but add lumbar support. Ample leg and headroom somewhat mitigate the lack of supportive seats. The rear row can seat adults and reclines for extra comfort, though passengers will rub shoulders if you attempt to fit three. On a positive note, the Entune infotainment system is easy to use and employs one of the simplest smartphone integration software on the market.
The standard system is easier to operate due to analog controls, while the larger uses less intuitive touch controls. The standard Safety Sense P suite is easily managed by the digital driver information display, one of this SUV’s greatest strengths.
The 73.4 cubic feet of space with the second row folded and 38.4 with them up is another strength. Those are numbers that place the RAV4 Hybrid at the top of its class and the Hybrid SUV with the most space. The RAV4’s may not impress its occupants or soothe with its seats, but it’s everything you need. It’s pragmatic and efficient like the vehicle itself.
The RAV4’s design can be a bit polarizing. While it has grown up a bit, it tries too hard to appear sporty when it’s not exactly the quickest SUV. The LED lights are a more modern touch, though they’re more or less par for the course in the segment. The backside is convoluted with curves directed every which way but the tail lights redeem the rear with a functional and stylish design. The plastic body trim is an attempt to make RAV4 rugged, but we all know you probably won’t be taking it off-road. We think there are much better looking compact crossovers like the Mazda CX-5 but our tastes aren’t your tastes. If you like the design, please let us know why in the comments below!
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awards the RAV4 Hybrid a 5-star overall rating, with 4-star front crash and rollover ratings. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offers exceptional “GOOD” crash test rating and the additional “Top Safety Pick+” designation, the organization’s highest honor. Additionally, the standard front crash prevention system receives a “SUPERIOR” rating, the highest possible. Toyota is ahead of the industry by offering advanced driver assistance technology standard in many models. The Toyota Safety Sense P system includes a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection that can recognize hazards in your path and automatically apply the brakes at low speeds and assist in braking at high speeds. Also included is Lane Departure Alert which uses a windshield-mounted camera to alert you when it senses you’ve veered from your lane unintentionally. Dynamic Radar Cruise Control uses that same camera as well as radar to maintain a safe distance from vehicles in front of you. Though it’s a commendable effort on Toyota’s part, there have been disconcerting reports of malfunctions that may cause the very accidents the system is designed to avoid. More on that in the section below. In spite of this, we still think the RAV4 is commendably safe and an excellent SUV.
Consumer Reports lumps the RAV4 Hybrid in with the RAV4 as trim, despite it being a different model. Their predicted reliability rating for the RAV4 is a stellar 5 out of 5, with nary a complaint from consumers. JD Power offers a 3 out of 5 overall predicted reliability rating for the RAV4 Hybrid and a 4 out of 5 powertrain quality rating.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has only issued one recall for the 2017 RAV4 Hybrid. It’s a minor issue. The spare tire may not be inflated properly. Any Toyota dealer will fix this free of charge. Or you could just inflate the spare to the proper pressure, it’s not that difficult. At the time of this writing, there are 26 complaints filed with the NHTSA for the RAV4 Hybrid.
There are multiple complaints about one of Toyota’s Safety Sense P features. When driving at night, the windshield darkens to prevent oncoming headlight glare. Several drivers claim this feature makes driving at night dangerous and difficult, so be sure to take an overnight test drive to ensure this doesn’t bother you.
There are also multiple complaints of the Safety Sense P system activating the emergency autonomous braking in nonemergency situations, paradoxically causing a potential accident and giving vehicle passengers a scare. Lastly, there are few complaints about the brakes failing at low speeds when parking, causing minor collisions with objects and other vehicles.
An impressive alternative to the RAV4 Hybrid is the Kia Niro. It’s smaller due to its subcompact classification and has a lot less cargo capacity at 54 cubic feet of overall cargo space, 30 less than the RAV4. We mention this first because it’s a deal breaker for those who need that space. If you don’t, there aren’t a whole lot of reasons to choose the RAV4 over the Niro. The Niro costs several thousand less and offers up to 54 miles per gallon. It’s better looking on the inside and out and has a more upscale vibe. The Kia comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is unavailable in the Toyota. The RAV4 Hybrid’s safety technology arrives standard, but equipping the Niro with similar features will still cost less. However, no autonomous emergency braking system is available in the Niro. Both have solid reputations for reliability and safety. The RAV4 Hybrid makes more power and is quicker to sixty. The Toyota also uses a CVT transmission, while the Niro uses a dual clutch six-speed automatic. It’s the first hybrid we know of to do so. Some may want to consider this when deciding because it impacts the way the vehicle drives. CVTs feel very unnatural when coming from a traditional transmission, especially in hybrids. The Niro drives much more like a normal, gasoline powered SUV than the RAV4 Hybrid. We think the Niro is a better buy as a personal vehicle, while the RAV4 is better for those who need the additional space from time to time or the All Wheel Drive capability.
The RAV4 XLE Hybrid starts at $29,030 equipped with Toyota Safety Sense P, eight airbags, 17 inch alloy wheels, integrated backup camera, Smart Key System on front doors, push button start, roof rails, dual zone automatic climate control, selectable driving modes, electronic on demand All Wheel Drive with Intelligence, Entune Audio Plus with connected navigation app, SiriusXM satellite radio, 4.2 inch multi-information display, halogen projector-beam headlights with auto on/off feature, halogen daytime running lights, color-keyed rear spoiler, front bumper integrated fog lights, color-keyed roof mounted shark fin antenna, front and rear silver painted bumper garnish, color-keyed heated power outside mirror with turn signal indicators and blind spot mirrors, washer-linked variable intermittent windshield wiper and intermittent rear window wiper, rear window defogger with timer, power tilt and slide moonroof with sunshade, rear privacy glass, acoustic noise-reducing front windshield, day/night rearview mirror, cruise control, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with multifunction controls, fabric trimmed 6-way adjustable driver’s seat with sport bolsters, 4-way adjustable front passenger seat with sport bolsters, front seatback pockets, fabric trimmed 60/40 split fold-flat second row bench with center armrest and reclining function, power windows with driver auto up/down with jam protection, illuminated entry system, three 12-volt power outlets, dual sun visors with vanity mirrors and extenders, overhead console with integrated sunglasses holder, Star Safety System, Hill Start Assist Control, Trailer Sway Control, Whiplash Injury Lessening seats, engine immobilizer, continuously variable transmission, and 2.5 Liter 4 cylinder Dual Overhead Cam 16-valve with VVT and electric engine to make 194 net horsepower.
The RAV4 SE Hybrid has an MSRP of $32,185 and adds 18 inch Sport Alloy wheels, LED projector-beam headlights with auto on/off feature and daytime running lights, remote power liftgate function, SofTex trimmed 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and 4-way adjustable front passenger seat, SofTex trimmed 60/40 split fold-flat second row bench with center armrest and reclining function, height adjustable power liftgate, and blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.
The RAV4 Limited Hybrid installs a frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror, 18-inch SuperChrome alloy wheels, power driver’s seat with memory function, and Entune Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite for $34,030.