2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited AWD - Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Story And Photos By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Although Toyota conservatively rates the combined net output of the RAV4 Hybrid at 219hp, when you tromp the loud pedal the power reserves feels about double the stated rating. Acceleration figures bear out the brute strength of the Hybrid combo. The zero to 60mph run flashes past in 5.4 seconds, while the quarter mile run from a standing start evaporates in 14 seconds at 100mph. These are really solid performance parameters, especially considering that the RAV4 Hybrid racks up 40MPG in overall driving a feat which ranks it 8 out of 10 on the EPA/DOT Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Rating scale. Starting with the groundbreaking Prius, Toyota has been making hybrids for a long time now, and the breeding shows in the power and sophistication of the RAV4's system which drives all 4 wheels simultaneously. If 219hp won't do the trick for you, there's an even more powerful 308hp RAV4 PRIME Hybrid Plug-In model that will recharge itself for 42 miles of driving in 2.5 hours on a 240-volt outlet.
Toyota offers the RAV4 Hybrid in no less than six different versions. The entry level model is the LE Hybrid($28,900). Next up is the XLE Hybrid ($30,195), the XLE Premium Hybrid ($32,900), the XSE Hybrid ($34,850), and the top line Limited Hybrid we tested ($37,030). If you opt for the Plug-In RAV4 PRIME, pricing starts at $38,350. Toyota appended a number of options to our test vehicle, including the Limited Grade Weather Package ($1,015). This option heated the steering wheel, heated and cooled both front seats, heated the outboard rear seats, and covered all seats with perforated SofTex vinyl. The $1,025 Limited Grade Advanced Technology Package incorporates a smart key for all door and liftgate operation, provides a Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging pad, and provides an overhead view 360 degree camera for reversing and low speed forward use. $415 adaptive LED Projector headlights and a $500 Panoramic glass roof with tilt/slide front section brought the as- delivered total for our test Toyota to $42,486. Coincidentally, this happens to be the median price for all new vehicles transactions today - an increase of $10,000 from last year.
So the RAV4 is not only an economical pleasure to drive, but so thoroughly equipped with extras that you will want for nothing in the feature department. The JBL 11-speaker Premium Audio proved easy to operate thanks to the 8 inch touch screen's intuitive controls and design. the RAV4 affords you the opportunity to toggle between drive mode programs. We quickly discovered that the zero-feedback steering effort of the Normal mode made guiding the RAV4 too imprecise. So we switched over to the Sport mode and were heartened to find much better feedback from the steering wheel. In fact, the handling of the RAV4 is quite precise in Sport mode. The long tread life (TW 540) Michelin Primacy A/S tires (225/60R18) do a reputable job of getting a grip on twisty roads, and it's always reassuring to feel the all-wheel-drive kick in as you throttle up on turn exit.
Though the front seats are nicely climate controlled, they could both do with more side support. In default mode, the digital dash instrumentation screen is overwhelmed with tertiary information of little importance, such as a power use meter, and a bevy of confusing, hard-to-read points of order. In fact, the start-up dash looks like a CNN news screen shot, with way too much information you don't need. Luckily, you can reconfigure this array with a couple of intelligent swipes at the buttons flanking the hub of the steering wheel. Once you customize the RAV4 Limited to your personal preferences, you're in for a fun ride that would even put a smile on Charlie Brown's sad face.
2021 TOYOTA RAV4 HYBRID LIMITED AWD
ENGINE: 2.5 liter inline 4 plus 2 Electric Motors
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 41MPG City/38MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $42,486
HYPES: Strong Acceleration, Sure Footed Handling
GRIPES: Manual Passenger Seat Adjust
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10