1984 marked the debut of the original Toyota RAV Four concept, which went on to become the 1994 2-door Toyota RAV4, bowing in both Japan and Europe. The RAV4 made its North American debut in 1996. The Second-generation appeared in 2001, the Third-Gen in 2006, and the Fourth generation was first introduced in 2013 at the LA Auto Show.
The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid represents a mid-cycle refresh and marks the introduction of a new gas SE grade and an available Hybrid model on various trims or grades.
The new RAV4 lineup isn?t a radical departure from the original concept, but this latest iteration displays a dynamic exterior featuring a sleek roofline, boldly aggressive character lines and a streamlined silhouette. The form begins with Halogen projector beam headlights, a low sloping hood, athletically sculpted front and rear fenders, and the arc of the roofline leads rearward to the prominently styled taillamps. There?s a functional roof spoiler that not only extends the roofline, but also features a brilliant LED center brake light. It will deliver balanced performance and capability, along with impressive fuel economy, class-leading cargo capacity in a strikingly designed form, with an extensive inventory of standard features and amenities.
In a significant departure from the original RAV4?s heritage, the RAV4 has finally moved from its original side-hinged rear door to a more convenient roof-hinged liftgate and the rear door-mounted spare has been eliminated and replaced by a space-saver spare that?s stored beneath the rear cargo floor. As on other recent Toyota vehicles, the engineering team concentrated on improving the aerodynamics by incorporating small vortex generators molded into the taillight cases and near the A-pillar bases. There are also undertrays beneath the passenger cabin that aid in smoothing and controlling underbody airflow.
The 2016 RAV4 Hybrid is available in three levels of trim: the base LE; a more upscale XLE; and the flagship Limited model. All Hybrid models will be powered by a 2.5-liter DOHC, 16-valve inline four-cylinder gasoline engine with dual VVT-I and electronic Toyota Direct Ignition with sequential fuel injection. The transversely mounted front engine develops 112 horsepower at 5,700 rpm, while generating 206 pound feet of torque at 4,100 rpm. Motive force is delivered to either the front wheels or to all four wheels with Dynamic Torque Control, through an electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission with intelligence. (CVT-i). The Gas engine is combined with a Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Electric Motor that puts out an instantaneous 105 kW/50kW @ 4,500 rpm, along with 199 pound feet of torque. The Hybrid system is supported by a sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride Battery Pack with a nominal voltage of 244.8 V (204 cells, 1.2V/cells) with a 6.5 ampere hour capacity and 650 volts of maximum system voltage.
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is tailored to meet the needs of the compact SUV or crossover market that it originally created. In addition to the Hybrid system, it offers two-row, five passenger seating and state-of-the art in-cabin technologies.
The RAV4 Hybrid?s interior comes with a premium appearance, showcasing soft-touch surfaces and accents along with driver-focused controls. The asymmetrical dash panel is driver-centric with both primary and secondary controls within easy reach, while on the passenger side, a smoothly flowing, scalloped dash panel creates an airy feel to the cabin. All RAV4?s will feature 60/40 split/fold second-row seats that recline, enhancing passenger comfort, along with retractable head restraints that allow for improved driver visibility.
Standard features and equipment include: Display Audio with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, AM/FM/CD, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and AUX mini-jack and six speakers. The display Audio and primary as well as secondary gauges are highlighted by Clear Blue illumination. The Display Audio displays and engages HVAC settings, available Navigation and Entune? multi-media system. The Multi-information display is controlled by buttons on the steering wheel?s right side.
My test Toyota RAV4 Hybrid came in Limited trim with a Blizzard Pearl exterior finish and a Charcoal interior. It was in the FWD configuration, with its base price set at $28,370. The final count and amount came to $29,120 after adding the Destination and Handling charge.
SUMMARY: The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited FWD, while remaining true to the original in terms of concept and purpose, is a vastly improved and much more attractive vehicle entering its fourth generation.
There are obviously those who will complain about the lack of a V6 powerplant, but in reality, the 2.5-liter four-banger delivers more than enough power, with the advantage of greater fuel economy. The ride quality is extremely stable and the handling characteristics lean to the sporty side of the equation.
Safety features include: Toyota?s Star Safety System, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force distribution, Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Brake Assist, ABS and Smart Stop Technology, Tire Pressure Monitoring System and Whiplash Injury Lessening front seats.
This Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a gem of a crossover that reflects the incorporation of customer input, resulting in a vastly improved vehicle over the original with the enhanced efficiency of a Hybrid system.
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?[wptabtitle] SPECIFICATIONS: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited FWD [/wptabtitle]
|Price as Tested:||$29,120.|
|Engine Type and Size:||Engine Type and Size: 2.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, four-cylinder, with dual VVT- I, electronic Toyota Direct Ignition and sequential fuel injection. / Electric Motor: Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Motor Electric Motor output:105 kW/50kW (instantaneous) @ 4,500 rpm Torque:199 lb.-ft. Hybrid Battery Pack: Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride Nominal Voltage 244.8 V (204 cells, 1.2V/cells) 6.5 ampere hour capacity, 650 volts maximum system voltage.|
|Horsepower (bhp):||112 @ 5,700 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||206 @ 4,100 rpm|
|Transmission:||Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission with intelligence. (CVT-i)|
|Drive Train:||Transversely mounted front engine / Front-Wheel Drive. Optional Electronic On-Demand AWD System w/ intelligence (AWD-i)|
Front – Independent MacPherson strut with 1.0?
Rear – Double wishbone coil spring with .91? stabilizer bar.
|Brakes:||Power-assisted four-wheel discs (Vented front-solid rear) with ABS, VSC with Traction Control, EBD, BA, Smart Stop Technology and TPMS.|
|Tires:||Yokohama Geolander G91 P235/55 R18 mounted on 5 ?V?-spoke superchrome alloy wheels.|
|Length Overall:||181.1 inches|
|Height:||67.1 inches ? with roof rails.|
|Curb Weight:||3,950 lbs.|
|Fuel Capacity:||14.8 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||34-mpg city / 31-mpg highway FWD/ (22/29 AWD)|
|Drag Coefficient:||Not listed.|
|0 – 60 mph:||Not tested.|
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.