In a world with soaring fuel prices and a rapidly-increasing demand for EVs, Toyota has provided us with a brilliant solution in their already popular mid-sized SUV.
Look, Toyota has been in the hybrid game for years being the first company to globally mass-produce a hybrid vehicle with the launch of the Prius in October 1997. A car which was not very popular in car culture. While it’s a conversation for another day, the point is Toyota knows something about efficiency.
The RAV4 Hybrid is not Toyota's first rodeo with hybrid cars, as they have been at it for decades. However, the new RAV4 Hybrid is a step up from what we might have seen from Toyota in the past. Providing the public with a genuinely interesting car, on an already popular chassis which, in my opinion, was a good formula from the onset. The new RAV4 is a good-looking SUV and provides you with a comfortable, spacious and technologically-advanced experience, on top of paying relatively little for fuel.
Upon entering the RAV4 hybrid GX-R, I immediately noticed the use of bright orange plastic accents in particular parts of the cabin; the wireless charging port and doors. I wasn’t particularly fond of this stylistic decision at first but admit, grew on me eventually. In fact, once I wrapped my head around this unique styling, I rather liked it.
Space is apt and with its unique and almost cheerful styling characteristics, it provides a rather pleasant environment for long-distance driving.
Besides the orange trim, the interior is both family-focused and trendy with leather seats, textured-black textile trim, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality supported by an 8” touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and three USB inputs scattered about the cabin.
Other features include dual-zone climate control, three 12-volt power outlets, telescopic steering wheel adjustment and keyless-entry are a few further comforts that Toyota has provided in the RAV4 Hybrid.
It comes with a smorgasbord of safety features like eight airbags, an anti-theft system, and a driver support system which provides ABS, EBD, VSC, parking distance control (PDC), trailer-sway control and even a driving mode selection function with eco, normal and sport modes. This culminates in a confident, calm and safe driving experience.
Toyota defiantly didn’t make this car a true driving marvel but positioned it as a comfortable and economic SUV, I didn’t expect it to wow me. And yet, I was impressed by the instant power provided by the electric motors at low speed. In fact, I even tried my luck against a Ford Ranger Raptor on a gravel stretch and this unassuming hybrid walked all over the Raptor. With the Ranger’s heft and the Toyota’s instant power delivery, I admit this result was expected. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by its performance.
The 2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid motor provides you with 131 kW and 221 Nm for the Atkinson Cycle engine and 88 kW and 202Nm of torque from its electric motors with a total power output of 163 kW when the two are working together. With strong electrical support, it comes as no surprise that the RAV4 Hybrid has good fuel consumption with Toyota claiming around 6l/100 km.
Speed isn’t the focus of this vehicle but if you were wondering just how fast it is, the RAV4 Hybrid does a 0-100 in 8.4 seconds. I did enjoy the instant response from the electric motor at low speeds, however, once the engine takes over, the car drastically decreases in acceleration.
The biggest issue I had was the CVT gearbox. It removes any excitement from the driving experience and provides you with incessant engine noise whether you are accelerating or keeping pace with the traffic. It isn’t a terrible driving experience with little road noise but, still, that droning didn't sit all that well with me.
Coming in at R644,100, the RAV4 GX-R CVT Hybrid is a brilliant car for the family: It boasts frugal fuel consumption and is priced competitively even against its conventionally-powered small-SUV rivals.
Toyota also provides you with a three-year/100,000 km warranty and a six-service/90,000 km services plan. Furthermore, the hybrid models come with an eight-year/195,000 km battery warranty so that should put your mind at ease.
The Toyota RAV4 hybrid is a good family car for more eco-conscious families. It is comfortable and practical with enough space to take a family of five on holiday. It returns good fuel consumption figures and portrays high-quality technology with a stylish interior to please most motorists. With a punchy electric kick at lox speeds, despite the unenthusiastic engine noise, The RAV4 Hybrid is a good electric product from Toyota, designed for the modern family.
With current fuel prices, any family can now reach their holiday destination without breaking the bank.