The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Review by Larry Nutson +VIDEO

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Did you know that the RAV4 was the first ever compact SUV? And now today compact SUVs are available from nearly every brand. They are sales lesders with fifty-eight percent of the new vehicles purchased in the U.S. in June coming from the truck segment…pickups, SUVs and vans, that is.

I remember that first RAV4 because I was doing work for another brand back then. How about the Geo Tracker? The RAV4 – Recreational Activity Vehicle with 4-wheel-drive was at the start of it all.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Now in its fourth generation, the RAV4 has gotten a mild freshening for 2016 that also brought with it the first hybrid version. The front fascia and bumper are new designs and LED headlights, daytime running lights and Hi-Lo headlights are now available. Along the profile there’s new rocker panels leading to a new rear bumper. On the back, LED taillights come on certain trims.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

New front and rear silver skid plates, new wheel designs and a standard shark fin antenna along with a few new colors finish off the 2016 changes. There’s been a few tweaks on the inside too with a revised gauge cluster and some LED illumination. Even the cup holders and sunglass holder were improved.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Putting aside the new hybrid for the moment, safety got a big boost with the RAV4 now offering automatic pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and active cruise control. There’s also a rear view camera and 360-degree view camera system that provides a bird’s eye view all around. The camera systems are a great help on tight maneuvering.

These new driver-assistance safety features will help significantly reduce accidental collisions. In spite of their up-front cost they’ll save you money in the long run along with keeping you and your family safer and out of harms way.

The 2016 RAV4 is offered in four different gas model trims – LE, XLE, SE and LTD, each in 2-wheel (front) drive or all-wheel drive. The RAV4 Hybrid is offered in XLE or LTD, both with a unique all-wheel drive system.

Prices start at $24,350 and go up to $32,910 for the gas models. The two Hybrid models are priced at $28,370 and $33,610. That’s a $700 price step for either of the two hybrids over the same gas AWD models.

Now the interesting thing about the RAV4 Hybrid is that not only does it offer lower fuel consumption than the gas engine model but also it has more horsepower and torque and correspondingly better acceleration.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The 2016 RAV4 Hybrid combines output from a 150HP 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine and a small high-torque electric motor for a combined 194 system horsepower. The hybrid uses a CVT transmission.

Toyota says RAV4 Hybrid will zoom from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, and that’s nearly one second quicker than its gas counterparts.

The system varies power between the gas engine and electric motor, or combines both as needed, all seamlessly. You get all-weather capability from the Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel-Drive System. It uses a second, independent electric motor that drives the rear wheels when needed to help maintain optimal traction.

RAV4 hybrid EPA test-cycle estimated fuel economy ratings are 33mpg combined, with 34 city mpg and 31 highway mpg. Note here that the hybrid system really pays off if you do lots of lower speed stop-and go city driving.

The gas-engine RAV4 has a 176HP 2.5-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine mated to a standard six-speed automatic transmission. EPA test-cycle estimated fuel economy ratings for the 2-wheel drive model are 26 mpg combined, with 24 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. With all-wheel drive, the EPA test-cycle estimates are 25 mpg combined, with 22 city mpg and 29 highway. And here note the large difference in city mpg to the hybrid - 22 compared to 34.

City driving usually does not involve a lot of miles traveled. Most likely the $700 additional to buy the RAV4 Hybrid can be recovered in about a couple years.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The five-passenger RAV4 is fairly big city friendly with its 181 inch overall length that certainly helps in fitting in parking spaces. Cargo hauling is made easy with the big rear hatch and the fold-down rear seat. Hybrid cargo volume is 35.6 cuft and that increases to 70.6cuft with the rear seat folded. The hybrid looses only 2.8 cuft of cargo space to make room for the batteries.

More info and specs on the 2016 Toyota RAV4 can be found at Check out other small SUVs right here at

Overall the RAV4 has a nice contemporary appearance to my eye. It’s quite versatile and has well-balanced overall driving dynamics. Considering the hybrid’s performance and fuel economy it’s pretty much in a class all by itself.

© 2016 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

The Most In-Depth Unbiased Independent Toyota Vehicle Shopper's Research - Anywhere!