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The New Toyota RAV4 XSE Hybrid Is the One You Should Buy

The Toyota RAV4 is all-new for 2019 and it’s even better than the one that preceded it. This is really saying something, as the outgoing RAV4 was the best-selling non-truck in the United States for the 2018 calendar year. Of all of the different RAV4 trim levels, the new Adventure trim and the XSE Hybrid stand out as probably the two most interesting.

After spending considerable time behind the wheel of both, I can confidently say that I, a person who lives in the great outdoorsy city of Salt Lake City, and who enjoys things like mountain biking, rock climbing and sleeping outside, would hands down choose the XSE Hybrid over the Adventure. And here’s why.

The Hybrid Gets Extremely Good Fuel Economy.

This is easily the Hybrid’s biggest selling point. Regardless of trim, the RAV4 Hybrids all achieve an impressive 41 miles per gallon in the city, 38 mpg on the highway and 40 mpg in combined driving to the non-hybrid’s 26 mpg city/35 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined (or oddly, 25 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/28 mpg combined for the Adventure). The Hybrid only costs $1,400 more than a comparably equipped RAV4 with the basic gas powertrain — and depending on how far you drive in a year, it should pay for itself during your average ownership period.

While Also Being Faster than the Regular RAV4.

The RAV4 Hybrid puts out 219 horsepower, while the regular RAV4 makes only 203. Testing has shown that the 2019 RAV4 Adventure takes about 8.5 seconds to go from 0-to-60 mph, while the Hybrid has been clocked at about a second faster. The difference here is the hybrid battery — and the fact that it brings on low-end torque much faster than the regular model. If you get a little enjoyment out of a quick car, then you’ll find a lot to love about the RAV4 Hybrid.

The XSE is Great to Drive.

The RAV4 XSE Hybrid has a sport-tuned suspension that gives it much more athletic driving characteristics than any other RAV4. It also looks the part, with black wheels, a contrasting black roof, and a black grille.

The XSE Hybrid Can Handle Just as Much Off-Roading as the Adventure.

Every RAV4 Hybrid comes with all-wheel drive. Unlike the non-hybrid models, the RAV4 Hybrid uses two electric motors to power the rear wheels. While the RAV4 Adventure comes with a few different selectable terrain modes, the Hybrid offers a trail button, which — if we’re being realistic — will probably get you just as far as any of the modes offered on the Adventure. When it comes down to it, without more appropriate tires, neither of these vehicles offers particularly great off-road capability.


Altogether, the RAV4 XSE is an impressive package that comes at a great value. First and foremost, it’s one of the most modern compact SUVs on the market. Secondly, it returns seriously impressive fuel economy, which translates to money back in your pocket. Third, it’s great to drive thanks to its firmer, sport-tuned suspension. And finally, given that the outlier RAV4, the Adventure model, doesn’t really offer any real-world benefits when compared to lesser trims, the XSE Hybrid offers just as much functionality as any other RAV4 out there. If you’re in the market for a RAV4, get the Hybrid — and if you’re in the market for a fun RAV4, get the XSE Hybrid. Find a Toyota RAV4 for sale

Chris O’Neill grew up in the Rust Belt and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He worked in the auto industry for awhile, helping Germans design cars for Americans. Follow him on Instagram: @MountainWestCarSpotter.

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Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a... Read More about Chris O'Neill

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