With many aerodynamic enhancements, such as a modified front fascia, bumpers, mirrors, underbody and spoiler, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV achieves an incredibly slippery 0.30 coefficient of drag -- the lowest of any SUV on the market right now. That slipperiness, combined with its electric drivetrain, offers a virtually silent driving environment that could be especially nice for daily commuters.
Offered only in front-wheel-drive configuration, the RAV4 EV will have a starting price of $49,800 and comes fully loaded with back- and bottom-cushion front seat heaters, as well as a state-of-the-art touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, Bluetooth, voice control and Toyota's Entune system. Engineers have also built in an advanced battery charge gauge and special EV-only features, such as eco-driving encouragement and remote charging control through a smartphone.
Toyota's Entune system is included in the RAV4 EV, as are heated seats. That may sound like a luxury feature, but Toyota has another reason for installing heated front seats: It takes less energy to heat the seats than to heat the whole cabin. If owners have heated seats, they may not feel the need to blast the heater on cold days. This can help extend the RAV4 EV's range.
Like most EVs, the RAV4 sort of requires you to buy the extra cost ($1,500) 240v charging station. When you have that, a full charge takes about 6 hours. Skip it and use a household style outlet and the charge time can be as much as 44 hours -- not very practical.
The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV's Tesla sourced motor is good for 154 horsepower. Acceleration is brisk and the EV version of the RAV4 handles a lot like its gas-powered counterpart.
The car will only be on sale in four major California consumer markets, including Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay region, Los Angeles/Orange County and San Diego. Toyota says it will only build 2,600 of the vehicles over the next three years.