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As we watch hybrid technology advance in the super car development that exploits maximum amount of power – it raises the question as to why do we have to see such humdrum hybrid enactment in the everyday life cycle of mass production vehicles? Toyota, being the leader in hybrid technology, lately has been working on combining the best of both worlds as the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid sees improved performance capabilities and impressive fuel efficiency.

Despite the RAV4 only being five years into its previous generation, Toyota wanted to kick up the volume and showcase something invigorating. Completely new from the ground up, the RAV4 is nestled on Toyota’s latest TGNA platform that is shared alongside the latest Prius, Camry, and Corolla. All six-trim levels carry on into this new generation including the latest addition of the rugged Adventure that was introduced last year in 2018. However, for those seeking a real thrill in the off-road community, just wait till what Toyota has in store in 2020 with a new TRD Off-Road variant that had us lusting for more details.


Out of all the trims available, the XSE is by far the spunkiest of the bunch starting at $33,850. With unique styling cues, two-tone paint colors and 18-inch black wheels it is surely one to stand out from the Dutch Bro’s drive-thru crowd. Out of the six available trims, only four can be equipped with the latest hybrid offering, including the entry-level LE with a base price starting at $27,850. Regardless of trim level however, all RAV4’s sees the latest update in Toyota Safety Sense or TSS for short. Calling it TSS 2.0 – this system, standard across the lineup, encompasses forward collision alert with autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control with full start/stop capabilities, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, lane tracing assist, active high beam assist and road sign assist. Blind spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic detection with emergency braking however, is still an option.

Stepping up its superior aspect, the interior of the new RAV4 suits a handsomely executed design. Straying away from odd, cumbersome angles, the interior is simple, yet functional. Everything has a place and there’s a place for everything. Soft touch materials fill the cabin air with an appropriate display of metal trimmings and accent pieces. Our XSE trim featured in this article made due without leather and going with a simulated faux-leather application, or as Toyota likes to call it, SofTex. If it looks like leather and feels like leather, it’s probably not leather – but it sure does dress up the cabin using blue stitching and blue accented inserts. No matter the material, the seats here are perfectly comfortable with decent use of lateral support with plenty of rear seat room to move about freely.

Technology has massively been improved with a new 7-inch digital cluster display, a rear-view camera mirror and optional 8-inch as part of the $1620 Entune 3.0 system on higher trimmed models. Standard models see a newer 7-inch touch screen infotainment with Apple CarPlay functionality; however, at this time however, Android Auto is still not available.

Seeing that the hybrid’s foundation carries more performance with a total combined output of 219-horsepower, the XSE is only available in the hybrid powertrain. All other trims including the top-tiered Limited comes with the standard gas engine – the hybrid is then an $800 option. With a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, going hybrid isn’t a bad thing anymore. Making better use of this technology, this system is in all-wheel drive only; however, unlike a traditional all-wheel drive system with a driveshaft connecting the rear wheels, the RAV4 Hybrid uses two electric motors. With one electric motor at the front and the other one in the rear, combined with the gas engine, the fluid performance and acceleration makes this the most exciting RAV4 to drive.

Now, don’t go thinking the RAV4 Hybrid is a quick goose – it takes roughly 7.5-seconds to get to 60-mph which makes it fairly adequate for its purpose. The all-wheel drive system helps with its performance output as power is transferred to all-four wheels under 10-mph to help with off-the-line acceleration. To help maintain an economical balance, the powertrain then switches to front-wheel drive leaving the all-wheel drive system to deviate when it will most be needed later down the road depending on power application and slippery road conditions such as rain, ice or snow. With performance being digressed through an electronically controlled CVT transmission, the linear power delivery is surprisingly very good. Maintaining an even flow of power distribution the CVT allows for exceptional momentum and endless amounts of propulsion making passing on a highway at over 75-mph an easy slingshot.

When it comes to ride and comfort balance, the RAV4 Hybrid XSE sees an unwilling balance that it’s almost confused on what it’s supposed to be. With a sport-tuned suspension, the ride quality gets a little jittery and clatters over hard bumps. The steering while heavily firm is vague in its application with no real on-road feel despite their being a sport mode. However, we have to remember it is a crossover and while it may look like something that says ‘get out of my way’ on the highway, its sporty credentials are only skin deep. In the end, it all comes down to its miles per gallon, and at the end of the day we saw 45-MPG on the highway and a total combined rating of 38-MPG – in a crossover.

On the forefront, going hybrid no longer carries a premium lifestyle as it holds a nearly $800 jump over the standard model. With our XSE starting at $33,700 its value in MPG more than makes up for its semi-expensive price-tag. Yet, after accumulating additional options such as the $640 XSE Technology Package that features a 360-degree parking sensor sonar clearance with rear-cross traffic braking and Qi-Wireless Charging, $395 special Blizzard Pearl paint, $200 Panoramic sunroof, $269 Carpet Floor and Cargo Mats, and $315 Roof Rack with Cross Bars – our sampler came in at $38,234. On a positive note, at least holding up the fast lane is a thing of the past.


Starting Price: $27,850
As Tested: $38,234


Horsepower/Torque: 219-COMBINED HORSEPOWER
Transmission: CVT AUTOMATIC
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 41-CITY / 38-HWY / 40-COMBINED
Fuel Range: 470 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±7.5 SECONDS









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