2022 Toyota RAV 4 Hybrid XSE AWD – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Comely and thrifty!
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Earlier this year we had a chance to drive Toyota's RAV 4 Prime, a new-for 2022 plug-in rechargeable version of their best-selling SUV. With 302hp on tap, the Prime offered 42 miles of gas-free EV range plus the reassuring wallop of 302 hp in combined gas/hybrid operation. However, the money the RAV 4 Prime saves you in gas expense is offset by its upfront cost of $50,731. You can still enjoy most of the Prime's operational efficiency if you opt for the much less expensive RAV4 Hybrid. The XSE model we tested this week carried a base price of $35,055, and a final tag of $42,296 for an exceptionally well-outfitted version. It will take a lot of plug-in savings for the Prime to offset the $8,435 difference in price between the two models.
Of course, if you opt for the Hybrid, total horsepower drops from the Prime's output of 302hp to 219hp. That's still 16hp up on the non-Hybrid RAV 4's 203hp. And don't forget that the 3,510 pound RAV 4 Hybrid weighs 825 pounds less than the 4,335 pound RAV 4 Prime. Consequently, the Hybrid is no slouch in the acceleration department: 0-60mph takes just 7.1 seconds. Leaving the electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT) in "Drive" while flooring the accelerator produces enough thrust to merge easily with freeway traffic. Even passes on two-lane roads can be accomplished with some judicious pre-planning. However, the Hybrid's 2.5 liter A25A-FXS gas engine, augmented by a pair of electric motors, emits an uninspiring moan when you lean hard into the accelerator. The ECVT transmission contributes its own octave to the soundtrack.
Electronic on-demand AWD powered the XSE's 18 inch, "multi-spoke, black sport" alloy wheels (18 x 7J). Michelin provided the rubber, with 225/60R18 Primacy A/S radials promising long life with a TW rating of 540, but a wet Traction Rating of B. Our sample test car was finished in an alluring standard shade called Cavalry Blue. The cushions and backrests of the SofTex seats incorporated striking blue horizontal stripes. Even the front MacPherson strut assemblies were painted Cavalry Blue. A lengthy list of options elevated the base price by $6,026. The comprehensive XSE Tech Package (Code AT) provided front and rear parking assist with automated braking. This proved handy since you can't see any corner of the RAV 4 from the driver's seat. This $2,085 Tech Package also added a wireless charging pad for your phone, a 360-degree overhead camera with perimeter scan, and an 8-way power driver's seat with 2-position memory. The $1,620 Premium Audio Package (Code EN) added a 9-inch touchscreen to the top of the dash and a navigation system. Package EN also installs an 11 speaker JBL entertainment system that includes a subwoofer and an amplifier. And we wouldn't even consider picking up a new Hybrid without Black Chrome Exhaust Tips (Code E6, $120).
Driving the Hybrid is a rather subdued experience. The modestly sized Michelin tires reach their limit of adhesion rather early in the cornering process, so you won't be doing much canyon carving with this Toyota. However, video parlor games are on tap with a digital instrument cluster that presents the driver with an "Eco Zone" of information about your proficiency in green car control. As the owner's manual puts it, "It is easier to drive in an Eco-friendly manner by driving according to the display showing the accelerator pedal operations and staying within the reference operation range." The RAV 4 computes your "Eco Score" based on "smooth start off acceleration, driving without sudden acceleration, and smooth stopping." This Eco shaming assessment of your driving style is fun so long as the results are not reported to Eco Authority World Headquarters for further investigation.
I managed a 65 on my Eco Score, while my lead-footed wife was mired at a 58. What we both managed to achieve is a remarkably low fuel consumption for the week we drove the Hybrid. We used less than a quarter tank of fuel, and have no doubt that the RAV 4 Hybrid will travel 560 miles before needing a gas refill. According to the EPA, it posts 40MPG in overall driving. No EV's "estimated" range will match the RAV 4 Hybrid's real world range.
2022 TOYOTA RAV 4 HYBRID AWD XSE
ENGINE: 2.5 Liter inline 4 Cylinder DOHC, 16 valve + 88kW front electric motor and 40kW rear electric motor
HORSEPOWER: 219hp (Combined)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 41MPG City/38MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $42,296
HYPES: Spacious, Handsome, Penurious
GRIPES: Could Use More Tire
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10