The Toyota RAV4 has been the de facto Canadian household SUV of choice over the years, particularly those seeking practicality, reliability and affordability. Following the introduction of the latest partially electrified model, extreme fuel efficiency is added to that list as well.
“As we launch this all-new, sporty and advanced RAV4 Hybrid, it’s easier than ever for Canadians to embrace the future of the automobile,” says Cyril Dimitris, Toyota Canada vice president. “With competitive and affordable pricing on the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid line-up, we addressed any reservations that Canadian drivers may have on paying a premium for hybrid technology.”
Sharing the same exterior design as the standard fifth-generation model, like the toughened exterior showcasing a trapezoidal grille inspired by the company’s pickup trucks, angular bodylines and lifted appearance, the real magic is in the powertrain.
Built around the Toyota Hybrid System II — comprised of a 2.5-litre Dynamic Force (utilizing high-speed combustion and high thermal efficiency) four-cylinder Atkinson Cycle engine and two electric motor/generators, mated to CVT transmission — the crossover creates a net 219 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque.
No, it doesn’t have the 302 horses that the plug-in Prime does with the beefier components, but performance feels nearly as good: especially acceleration on the straights. The gasoline mill, though still on the noisier side as most hybrids are, in my opinion sounds less hollow too.
Corners are no sweat either, especially since the newest version of the AWD-i system sending 30 per cent more torque to the rear wheels compared to the outgoing vehicle. Not to mention the sport tuned front suspension installed on our Limited grade media loaner.
Piloting the RAV4 during unseasonably frigid temperatures and the ground covered in ice and snow, handing was virtually unchanged from dry at moderate speeds while wearing a proper set of winter tires.
Driving the car in a healthy mix of city and highway conditions, I couldn’t exceed 7.1 L/100 km no matter how heavy my foot was on the throttle. And given the manufacturer recommended octane is plain old 87, the pain at the pump is minimized despite rising fuel prices.
The SUV is pretty comfortable to sit in. There’s nothing mind-blowing going on in the utilitarian interior, however the synthetic leather and other soft touch materials are nice enough. The heated seats and steering wheel do their job quickly, and lots of little trays and storage pockets exist to easily stash small items and mobile devices.
Thanks to the stiffer underlying Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) structure, electric motors and plenty of soundproofing such as an expansive one-piece floor silencer pad, the ride is quiet and smooth.
In addition, a longer and taller cargo area (up to 1,690 litres of space available when rear bench is folded) can accommodate some mighty large items — I was able to squeeze in a patio table and a full-size Ikea bookshelf on two separate occasions. The powered tailgate may not close fully on the really long stuff but will stay partially shut, and grab handles on either make it easy to secure tie-downs.
For 2022, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid gains a value-focused SE trim featuring monotone paint, fabric upholstery and a handful of extra small updates.
MSRP: $43,604 (as tested)
Motor: 2.5-litre four cylinder + two electric motors
Horsepower: 219 (net)
Torque (lb-ft): 163 @ 3,600 rpm
Layout: front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 7.1 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)
Photos courtesy of Toyota