What Is It?
Given the success of the Prius, the Highlander Hybrid, the Camry Hybrid and others, this seemed like an inevitability: the 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. It was revealed today at the New York Auto Show, offering major changes over the standard RAV4.
The biggest change, of course, is under the hood. That’s where you’ll find a hybrid version of the RAV4’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, which will likely offer dramatically better gas mileage than the standard model. Unfortunately, Toyota hasn’t announced final fuel economy figures yet, and they haven’t confirmed power output, either. We’re expecting around 200 horsepower, however, as the engine seems to mostly mimic the 194-hp 2.5-liter hybrid 4-cylinder in the upscale Lexus NX 300h crossover.
The RAV4 Hybrid’s debut also came with a few other revisions, which will likely carry over to the entire 2016 RAV4 model range. The most obvious is an updated front end, which includes new fog lights and a new front bumper. There are also updated rear lights and a new skid plate on the rear bumper. Updates to the interior are minor, but they include an additional USB port in front, an updated gauge cluster with a 4.2-inch screen and reshaped cupholders for taller drinks.
More importantly, Toyota is offering the RAV4 Hybrid with some additional safety technology that will also find its way into gas-powered models. The new features — collectively dubbed Safety Sense — include forward-collision alert, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning and more. There’s also a new top-down camera system and additional LED exterior lighting.
Although Toyota hasn’t announced pricing, we’d expect that moving up to the RAV4 Hybrid will require several thousand dollars beyond the SUV’s $24,500 base price with shipping.
When Can You Get It?
Add It to Your Shopping List Because…
Although some automakers, including Toyota, have offered hybrid SUVs, few have touted the sort of fuel economy gains offered by hybrid cars. Even Toyota’s own Highlander Hybrid, which carries a significant price premium over base models, can’t top 30 miles per gallon in city or highway driving. Enter the RAV4 Hybrid, which uses a smaller design and a smaller engine than its Highlander Hybrid stablemate. While Toyota hasn’t confirmed gas mileage numbers, we suspect the 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid will offer some significant gains over the regular model, providing a new alternative to SUV shoppers with a focus on fuel economy.
Other Cars to Consider
2016 Mazda CX-5 — While there’s no hybrid version of Mazda’s spry CX-5, some models can reach up to 35 mpg on the highway with the right engine, transmission and drivetrain. The CX-5 will likely be cheaper than the RAV4 Hybrid too, which puts an extra mark in its favor.
2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid — Although it’s not technically an SUV, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid is one of the few vehicles on sale today that offers compact crossover practicality and hybrid power. Fuel economy isn’t stellar, but reasonable prices mean it’s worth a look.
Used Lexus NX 300h — The hybrid-powered NX 300h offers the same engine as the RAV4 Hybrid, along with fuel economy of up to 35 mpg city/31 mpg hwy. Although it’s only been out a few months, used models might take the sting off the NX 300h’s $40,000-plus base price.
Used Toyota Highlander Hybrid — The Highlander Hybrid returns 27 mpg city/28 mpg hwy, which we suspect will be outpaced by the RAV4 Hybrid. It’s also far more expensive than the RAV4. But it offers more power, more equipment and more room, along with a standard third-row seat.