The Toyota Rav4 continues as one of the most popular cars in America. And there are many reasons why. Owning one it surprised me how much has evolved in size and content in just a few years. The latest version is the 300 HP Plug-in Hybrid that put a smile on my face when I test drove it.
Toyota’s hybrid power plant is more than a decade old now, with literally millions on the road. But the Plug-in ads the option to recharge the battery at home and depending on your commute you could drive it without using any gas at all. It can do 40 miles on a charge. That’s not my case, but I manage to do 51 mpg, and that is significant. Especially when not giving up any comfort or practicality. The RAV4 Prime also has up to a manufacturer-estimated 94 combined MPGe. Even more, what sets RAV4 Prime apart is the standard Electronic On-Demand AWD.
The RAV4 Prime uses a differently tuned version of the RAV4 Hybrid’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle gas engine. It produces the same projected 176 hp as in the hybrid, but paired with the electric motors, total system output equals 302 horsepower. A set of larger batteries is mounted under the floor of the car, so it does not take space from the trunk. It is important to understand how to properly drive the Plug-in . The Prime employs the same version of Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive (AWD) as the RAV4 Hybrid. In both models, a separate rear-mounted electric motor powers the rear wheels when needed, including proactively on acceleration startup and also in reduced-traction conditions. So being smooth with the accelerator pedal will regard you with higher mpg.
Between the Safety Sense and the Predictive Efficient Drive feature this car put the technology to work for you. Using the available navigation system, Predictive Efficient Drive essentially reads the road and learns driver patterns to optimize hybrid battery charging and discharging operations based on driving conditions. The system accumulates data as the vehicle is driven and “remembers” road features such as hills and stoplights and adjusts the hybrid power train operation to maximize efficiency.
The new Rav4 has grown in every direction, so I am not surprised that the price has gone up too. But so are all the cars in the market. The Rav4 Plug-in starts at $38,000, comparable to similar to other vehicles in the class. I am often ask about which is better, the Rav4 Hybrid or the Honda CR-V Hybrid. Difficult to answer… but both have very different characters, just like your favorite food may not be my choice, Try them both and see which one you like driving better.