The Toyota RAV4 is one of Toyota’s key models in the 21st century. For its level of sales, which is really amazing, the best-selling SUV in the world.
Also because with him began the era of electrification in the brand’s SUVs. In 2016 the hybrid version arrived, with the fourth generation. And in 2021 this Plug-In hybrid, the Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid of the fifth installment.
The Toyota RAV4 is one of the clearest examples of the evolution of the automobile market. It was born as a small three-door car with permanent all-wheel drive, with a youthful and recreational focus but with the architecture of a conventional vehicle. Throughout its history it became an increasingly familiar SUV.
A large plug-in car is not cheap. Its price starts at 52,500 euros without discounts. There are interesting details that may make you think that it is worth them, such as its interesting autonomy in electric mode and others that we have not liked so much for such a hefty rate. Let’s get to know it thoroughly:
Toyota RAV4 Review
When I first saw the car, back in 2019 it seemed like a very American design. It is logical. In the United States, it is the second best-selling model in the entire market, only behind the Ford F-Series.
That leaves us with a car with an imposing image, which is what Americans and more and more people like. A very high hood with a front that falls very vertically and gives it a very off-road image.
If we spin it fine, we find differences between this plug-in hybrid version, such as the grill, with a chrome frame and somewhat different shapes. The LED optics and the polygon shaped bumpers have been maintained, in which it has been chosen to use glossy black moldings that have not convinced me on the outside and less so in a car with such a robust appearance.
On the side it has wheels of specific design, 19 inches on this unit (18 on the basic versions). It retains the marked wheel arches (also in gloss black, like all the underbody). On the front wing we have the Plug-In Hybrid inscription of its technology. The more equipped versions like this can be chosen in five colors, with the roof in contrast.
It retains the general shapes of the body, with a fairly stretched rear. Also your measurements. It goes to 4,600 mm in length (almost a meter more than the first generation), by 1,855 mm in width and 1,690 mm in height.
Already behind, it preserves under the glass the chrome trim on which the headlights and the upper spoiler rest, which makes the car look somewhat longer. The lower part of the bumper is made of glossy black plastic, a resource that in this case serves to remove some visual volume from the trunk. Interestingly, at the bottom, we see two real tailpipes.
We start with the driving position. I had been driving SUVs with elevated driving positions for a few weeks, but more pulling a car. In the Toyota RAV4 no, you go high (even in the lowest seat position) and commanding over the road.
You have adjustments in seats and steering wheel and it is not difficult to be comfortable. There is enough space, but beware, that the taller ones may not want to choose the sunroof that takes up some space. And is that the floor is somewhat higher than in other variants.
As for the arrangement of the elements, it is well resolved. We have a round, leather-trimmed steering wheel with easy-to-use buttons, with those for driving aids on the right and for controlling the on-board computer on the left. In a lower position there is a second row for the volume, dial and pick up the mobile.
Through the steering wheel we see the classic instrument panel consisting of a central color screen, which is not very customizable but shows enough information.
It is flanked by two hemispherical clocks, on the one hand the potentiometer and on the other the fuel level and, in this version, the battery charge. In this finish we have a good 10-inch Head-Up Display that gives a lot of information directly on the windshield.
In the raised central position, the screen of the 9-inch infotainment system. Here you can see two things: First, that Toyota is at its own pace with the interfaces, which could be somewhat more current. Second, it is the same one that mounts the RAV4 presented three years ago. It is something that they should check in the update, because it looks dated.
It retains physical buttons on the sides, not very large, which serve as shortcuts, as well as dials for the volume or the radio. And if someone reads this, another interesting improvement would be the quality of the rear view camera, quite poor. Of course, it offers a top view that I particularly like a lot.
Another thing that I really like is the physical controls for the air conditioning. Large and very easy to use. In addition, they have a nice rubbery touch and appear robust. It is the same that is used in the door handles.
n overall, very good fit between parts, with a solid car feel. And the materials are also good. From full leather seats, with red stitching on all finishes to all the materials that cover the upper areas, they look good. Also, by using so much glossy black plastic on the outside, there is not a hint of it inside.
In the center console, quite high, we have the gear selector, preceded by a wireless charging socket for the mobile. At his side, new controls for the management of electrical energy, which we will talk about later, as well as a rotary knob to change the driving mode (Eco, Normal and Sport, in addition to a Trail mode). There is no lack of drink rests and a chest under the armrest between the seats.
The rear seats are good. Both in height, which is achieved because the backrest is quite inclined, and in space for the legs. And although three adults will not be very comfortable, I do not see it impossible to travel three people behind. We have air vents and two USB sockets.
The cargo space of the Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid has 520 liters of capacity . It loses 60 liters compared to the hybrid variant. The DS7 Crossback E-Tense, the Lexus NX 450h or the Hyundai Tucson PHEV have a bit more space, to name two similarly sized plug-in hybrid SUVs, but it is not a low figure. It is also a very usable space due to its regular shapes. Of course, the loading edge is somewhat elevated.
We have a space under the floor, not very wide but that may be enough to store the charging cables. There are also hooks to fix the load, a 12-volt socket and a 230-volt socket like the one at home.
This version comes standard with the electrically operated gate. And it has, of course, with the possibility of folding down the backs of the rear seats, divided into two asymmetric parts. Thus, 1,604 liters of capacity are achieved .
We had had a first contact with the access finish, called Advance. It is already really complete and has elements such as 18-inch rims, bi-LED headlights, heated seats, electric opening boot lid …
Of course, the Toyota Safety Sense , which includes various electronic systems and driving aids , is offered as standard . Among them, cruise control, lane maintenance, cruise control, traffic sign recognition or brake assistant, with recognition of pedestrians and cyclists both day and night.
Above is this Style Plus, easily distinguishable by the two-tone bodywork or the 19-inch wheels. But it has more elements of interest, such as the 10-inch Head-Up Display, the opening panoramic roof or the 9-inch screen for the infotainment system with rear view camera.
It has leather seats and details such as the gate that opens by passing your foot under the bumper or the JBL sound system. And improve safety with Blind Spot Detector, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, or Smart Center Mirror.
Prices? Well, it starts at 52,500 euros with the Advance finish… and 58,500 for the more complete Style Plus. These are prices without discounts. You can find better deals for the Toyota RAV4 in our section of new cars, published by official dealers of the brand. The prices you see may involve financing the car.
Motor and Battery
The Toyota RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid has a hybrid system similar to the RAV4 dry hybrid, with some differences. The combustion engine is gasoline, a 2.5 four-cylinder Atkinson cycle, which delivers 185 hp in this case at 6000 rpm . It is somewhat more powerful than the hybrid (which produces 178 hp at 5,000 rpm).
It is accompanied by a front electric motor with a very similar output, 182 hp (134 kW). It is thus notably more capable than that of the 120 hp (88 kW) hybrid RAV4. And there is also another electric motor, which drives the rear axle, with which it achieves the all-wheel drive that Toyota calls AWD-i. In this case, 54 hp (40 kW) for a maximum power of 306 hp .
These propellants are powered by a battery with a capacity of 18.1 kWh . It has a 6.6 kW on-board charger and in a conventional outlet it takes 7.5 hours to charge.
When fully charged, it announces 75 km of autonomy in electric mode , one of the best figures on the market. And good benefits that we tell you below.
There is no doubt that what draws the attention of this car among all its competitors is its electric autonomy. You have to go to Mercedes, more expensive with batteries of much greater capacity to find higher figures. It is also true that few comply and here came the first surprise.
In the first route, which was mainly in the city and bypass roads, at a calm pace, I reached 86 km. Keep in mind that the urban cycle homologates 98 km, but it is the best figure in electric mode that I have achieved with a plug-in hybrid. When you go out on the road and highway that figure low, but it is very easy to exceed 60 km of electric autonomy between charges without problem.
So much electric autonomy can be an advantage for those who travel many kilometers in their day to day but can only access a socket once a day, at home or at work. It took us 9 hours and 20 minutes to fully charge it.
Another thing I like about this car is its comfort. I’m no longer just talking about its set-up, totally oriented to comfort. Also from the noise that arrives. In a RAV4 hybrid, you feel the engine under heavy acceleration. And not here, because the hybrid system is much more capable and it is not necessary to force the combustion mechanics so much… and because it is better soundproofed, especially the windows, made of laminated glass.
It is not a sports car, despite the fact that in the range only the GRs exceed its power figure. But it is fast accelerating. It completes the 0 to 100 km / h in just 6 seconds, not bad for its 1,910 kg of weight . And it gains speed in surprising ways. Mind you, like electric cars, most notably at low speeds.
In fast curves, he is poised. In the slow, it is not so comfortable. In the presentation, the brand told us that the center of gravity is lower but not low enough for a car of this height and weight to be agile when linking curves. Of course, the reactions are safe and the electronic aids are like a mother: they remember very quickly how far you should not go.
And like all multi-engine cars, you can choose how to manage the power. With the EV motorcycle it always moves on electric, up to 135 km / h. Then there is the Auto EV / HV mode, where the car chooses which is better. You can also keep the charge level to use later (the power is reduced to 240 hp) or use the combustion engine to gain autonomy (CHG mode), but in addition to being inefficient, the car becomes quite noisy there.
You can also modify the behavior of the car, from the Normal to a calmer ECO and a more reactive Sport where what is most surprising is how quickly the car responds to the accelerator. Trail mode is added, which helps a lot on dirt tracks, helping the rear engine not to lose traction. I could not drive in the wet on test days, but the RAV4 AWD-i did in its day and in those circumstances it provides extra safety.
And I started talking about consumption and I am going to end up taking it up again. Because what happens when the car runs out of battery? Normally in a plug-in hybrid the cost shoots up. In an SUV, because of its shape and weight, more. On the RAV4 PlugIn Hybrid it is still low. It is very easy to get figures around 7 l / 100 km (I did not travel loaded) and, as soon as you do an efficient driving, and play with the cams and their three retention modes, move in 6 lows. Little more than a conventional hybrid RAV, which is already a low-cost car.
Is this RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid the best plug-in hybrid SUV? It has rivals that can surpass it in some aspects, but the truth is that it is an ideal product for families who use the car daily in and around the city and do not want to have problems when traveling.
Toyota hybrids conquered their buyers, especially for the times that they moved in electric mode. In this RAV4 they add the versatility of all-wheel drive and tell us that it does not lose reliability, with various technical solutions to take care of the battery.
Of course, it is expensive. There is a lot of difference with the hybrid RAV4, about 12,000 euros. And it is necessary to do many kilometers to amortize it. Because the car, with this level of completion, costs € 58,500. And it does have a Zero label and is well equipped, but for that figure one can already ask for a more advanced infotainment system and some more comfort.