RAV4 vs. Camry, The Hybrid's AWD System, and More
Recently I had a chance to sample the updated 2016 Toyota RAV4. As mid-cycle refreshes go, the 2016 RAV4’s was pretty extensive, reworking both the exterior and interior and adding the first RAV4 Hybrid to the top end of the lineup. Here are 10 things you might not have known about the new 2016 RAV4.
The first hybrid in the segment since the last-gen Escape hybrid.
The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is the first hybrid in the segment since the second-generation Ford Escape Hybrid went out of production in 2011. While Toyota isn’t sure why Ford gave up the segment, it gladly fills the void with the RAV4 Hybrid, which is powered by a 2.5-liter I-4 mated to a CVT and two electric motors, one up front and one at the rear axle. Total system output is 194 hp.
All hybrids are all-wheel drive.
All RAV4 Hybrids are all-wheel drive, but there’s no mechanical linkage between the front and rear axle; the rear of the RAV4 is powered by an electric motor. Toyota says that the RAV4 Hybrid’s four-cylinder engine also functions as a generator to make sure the Nickel-Metal Hydride (NI-MH) battery is always at a sufficient charge state to power the rear electric motor and ensure that the all-wheel-drive system is always functioning.
Not surprisingly, the RAV4 Hybrid is the fuel economy standout.
According to the EPA, the RAV4 Hybrid nets 34/31/33 mpg (6.9/7.6/7.1 L/100km) city/highway/combined. That beats a comparable all-wheel drive 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid which was EPA-rated at 30/27/29 mpg (7.8/8.7/8.1 L/100km), though front-drive versions of the Escape Hybrid could get 34/31/32 mpg (6.9/7.6/7.3 L/100km).
Non-Hybrid 2016 Toyota RAV4s are mechanically identical to 2015 models.
Non-hybrid RAV4s are powered by an unchanged 2.5-liter I-4 making 176 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic. Front-drive versions are EPA rated at 24/31/26 mpg (9.8/7.6/9 L/100km), and all-wheel drive versions net 22/29/25 mpg (10.7/8.1/9.4 L/100km).
The pre-refresh RAV4 was too carlike for Toyota’s buyers.
Despite the fact that Toyota has sold 256,000 RAV4s so far this year, Toyota found that many of its loyal RAV4 buyers thought the design was too carlike (a 2014 model is shown above and a 2016 model below). To satisfy these customers, Toyota redesigned the front and rear bumpers to be more SUV-like, with a higher hood and beltline than before, less black-plastic molding, and faux skidplates front and rear.
Other customer complaints included excessive NVH and hard plastics inside.
To satisfy customers who didn’t like the fact that Toyota pulled cost out of the RAV4, the new 2016 model sports a revised interior design that has more soft-touch materials and more luxurious trim, and 55 percent more sound deadening than before.
Toyota also wanted to improve the RAV4’s driving experience.
In the wake of sportier competition, the Toyota RAV4 SE is new for the 2016 model year. The RAV4 SE features more aggressive styling, sportier wheels, and revised suspension and steering tuning. All RAV4s benefit from the extra suspension and steering tuning, though none is as outright sporty as the SE.
The Hybrid is the jack-of-all-trades of the RAV4 lineup.
Not only is the RAV4 Hybrid the most efficient model in the RAV4 lineup, but it’s also the quickest and the most capable tower. The RAV4 Hybrid can accelerate from 0-60 mph in an estimated 8.1 seconds to the non-Hybrid’s 8.4 seconds. The RAV4 Hybrid can also tow 1750 pounds to the RAV4 gasser’s 1500 pounds (680 kg).
The Hybrid has only a $700 premium to comparable non-hybrid RAV4.
You can get a RAV4 Hybrid XLE for just $29,270 USD, or a RAV4 Hybrid Limited for $34,510 USD including $900 USD in destination.
Toyota expects the RAV4 to out-sell the Camry by the end of the decade.
By 2020, Toyota estimates it’ll be selling 400,000 RAV4s a year. To meet anticipated demand, U.S. production of the next-generation RAV4 will be moved to Ontario, Canada.