2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is all-new awesome

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (Aaron)

Toyota introduced the RAV4 Hybrid as a new model in the RAV4 lineup for 2016. The whole RAV4 group got a bit of an update this year in looks and interior, but the RAV4 Hybrid definitely takes the stage as the next evolution of the popular little crossover.

The manufacturer says

Bring tech, style and efficiency to all your adventures. With RAV4 Hybrid’s advanced innovations and Toyota's proven hybrid powertrain, you can make the most of any trip. And in addition to its great fuel economy, RAV4 Hybrid adds extra thrills with 194 net horsepower and outstanding acceleration.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Toyota
  • Year, Model: 2016 RAV4 Hybrid
  • Class, Type: Small crossover
  • Propulsion system: 2.5L i4, electric
  • Base Price: $28,370
  • MSRP as tested: $34,510
  • Availability: Now

Overview

Most people know that the compact crossover segment as we know it was created in the mid-1990s when Toyota introduced the RAV4. The company, which is also known for hybrid powertrains, has finally decided to combine the RAV4 with a hybrid drivetrain and the result is very, very good.

In most respects, the Toyota RAV4 is a crossover like any other. It has a unique look and good ergonomics, but has largely been eclipsed by offerings from other manufacturers. That’s changing now as the RAV4 Hybrid comes to the market, showcasing what happens with most of Toyota’s hybrid vehicles based on mainstream offerings. Namely, the RAV4 Hybrid has a much sportier feel, far better fuel economy, and all of the good small family appeal that the standard RAV4 demonstrates. The hybrid system offers better balance for vehicle dynamics and punchier acceleration thanks to its batteries and electric motors, respectively.

Underneath the hood of the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid is the same 2.5-liter Atkinson four-cylinder engine, continuously variable transmission (CVT), electric motors, and Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries found in several other hybrid models from Toyota. All-wheel drive (standard in the Hybrid) is facilitated through an electric motor at the rear axle that engages when AWD is required. It is otherwise a generator only, used in active braking to generate power from the rear axle for the battery.

Another good aspect of the RAV4, including the Hybrid model, is rear seat roominess. Despite the small size of the crossover, most adults will be comfortable in the back seats. Cargo is also good at 35.6 cubic feet with the rear seats up. A power-operated rear liftgate is standard equipment.

Finally, the goods. The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is EPA rated at 33 mpg combined, with 34 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. In the real world, we saw an average of 31 mpg in a highway-heavy week of driving.

What we like

Excellent fuel economy without compromise.

Good ergonomics and daily use.

What we don't

Not as comfortable as some rivals.

Infotainment options can be expensive.

Conclusions

The 2016 RAV4 Hybrid is a great new offering from Toyota. It’s a balanced drive with solid fuel economy returns and a great daily-use metric. Toyota has mastered the hybrid powertrain and that shows in the new RAV4.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week. During that time, we drove in varied winter and early spring weather conditions for a total of 215 miles of driving.

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