Toyota RAV4 Hybrid engines, drive and performance
Hybrid drivetrain and CVT gearbox limit ultimate driver appeal, but the Toyota RAV4 rides and handles well for what it is
|0-62mph||Top speed||Driven wheels||Power|
|8.1-8.4s||112mph||Front or four||215-219bhp|
Nobody really expects a family SUV to be the last word in driver involvement, and such is the case with the latest Toyota RAV4. It gives a good account of itself in many areas, though, with responsive steering, a comfortable ride and decent handling for a car of its size. The main drawbacks from the driver's point of view concern the engine and gearbox.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid engine, 0-62mph and acceleration
Toyota refers to the RAV4 Hybrid's petrol-electric pure-hybrid setup as its 'Dynamic Force' engine. It comprises a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine plus the electric motor, producing 215bhp in the front-wheel-drive car and 219bhp if you go for four-wheel-drive variant.
Performance is swift enough: 0-62mph takes 8.4 seconds with front-wheel drive and 8.1 seconds with four-wheel drive (thanks to the latter's extra motor on the rear axle). It certainly feels responsive enough to be reassuring even if you need to merge into fast traffic or go for an overtake, and you can even stick it in Sport for heavier steering and sharper throttle response.
Honestly, the RAV4 just isn't a car that warrants or rewards hard driving of any kind. You're better off leaving it in Normal or Eco and just enjoying the calm, relaxing progress.
While the CVT automatic gearbox is an improvement on earlier Toyota efforts, it's still the most frustrating aspect of the car that it allows the coarse, buzzy-sounding engine to rev hard without actually accelerating that quickly.
Predictably, keen drivers won't be overly enamoured with the RAV4, but the rest of us will find it comfortable and responsive. Good suspension design means it doesn't lean as heavily in corners as you might expect and the steering is both nicely weighted and direct. Ride quality is good too, even on the larger 18-inch wheels.
In four-wheel-drive form, the RAV4 is actually a pretty competent off-roader, and just offering the option of four-wheel drive sets it apart from many front-wheel-drive-only rivals. Of course, a Jeep or Land Rover will be far more accomplished off-road, but if you live in a location where muddy, slippery or snowy conditions are a regular occurrence, the four-wheel-drive RAV4 is well worth considering.
It's a mediocre tow car, though, as its maximum braked towing capacity of 1,650kg (800kg for the front-wheel-drive car) is well below the circa 2,000-2,500kg offered by many diesel alternatives.
In This Review
- 1VerdictThe latest Toyota RAV4 is a striking-looking and efficient hybrid family SUV, but there are more versatile seven-seat alternatives for similar money
- 2MPG & CO2 emissionsFuel economy can vary depending on the sort of driving you do, but the Toyota RAV4's CO2 emissions are impressively low
- 3Running costsThe Toyota RAV4 represents a good deal for company-car users, but private buyers are likely to find a diesel SUV cheaper to buy and run
- 4Engines, drive & performance - currently readingHybrid drivetrain and CVT gearbox limit ultimate driver appeal, but the Toyota RAV4 rides and handles well for what it is
- 5Interior & comfortA solid but plain interior and poor infotainment see the Toyota RAV4 lose ground on rivals here
- 6Practicality & boot spacePassenger and luggage space are both decent, if not class-leading, in the Toyota RAV4
- 7Reliability & safetyThe Japanese brand is world-famous for its reliability, and the Toyota RAV4 comes with a good package of safety systems as standard across the range