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Driving the RAV4 Hybrid

by Ron CoganApril 7, 2019
The fully-redesigned 2019 RAV4 Hybrid is an exceptional product offering from Toyota that’s fit for both on- and off-road duty.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid driving off-road.

The popular Toyota RAV4 was fully-redesigned this model year to meet the requirements of today's ever-expanding SUV market. Now in its 5th generation, the 2019 RAV4 is built on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA-K) platform and engineered to be more efficient. Both conventionally-powered and hybrid versions of the RAV4 are offered, with blue accents on the Toyota logo and hybrid badges the only visual cues that set the RAV4 Hybrid apart from its non-hybrid counterpart.

Power in the hybrid is delivered by Toyota’s Hybrid System II, which in this model uses a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine producing 176 horsepower and 163 lb-ft torque. The system’s two electric motors deliver 118 horsepower and 149 lb-ft torque to the front wheels, with 54 horsepower and 89 lb-ft torque to the rear wheels. Combined hybrid system output is 219 horsepower. All-wheel drive is a standard feature on the hybrid, and the RAV4 Hybrid is very capable off-roading as we proved during our time driving off-road trails and in challenging conditions.

Toyota RAV4 hybrid engine.

RAV4 Hybrid Driving Modes

The RAV4 Hybrid’s electronically-controlled, continuously variable transmission (ECVT) comes with sequential shift modes. Sport mode changes throttle mapping and the way the transmission operates for a more responsive feel. An Eco mode optimizes fuel economy. EV mode provides an extremely limited all-electric range using light throttle.

The hybrid’s nickel-metal hydride battery pack is located beneath the rear seat so interior space is not compromised. In fact, there is a bit more cargo room compared to the previous generation RAV4 since the battery pack is more compact. An 8.0-inch touchscreen displays the hybrid powertrain’s battery activity.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid display.

High-Tech Electronics

New to the 2019 RAV4 HV models, Predictive Efficient Drive essentially reads the road and learns driver patterns to help optimize hybrid battery charging and discharging operations, based on actual driving conditions. The system accumulates data as the vehicle is driven and ‘remembers’ features such as hills and stoplights, for example, and adjusts hybrid powertrain operation to maximize efficiency.

The 2019 RAV4 Hybrid is equipped with the second generation of Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0), which includes a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beam, Lane Tracing Assist, and Road Sign Assist. Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Braking are standard on XLE grade and above, and optional for the LE. Limited grade adds standard Intelligent Clearance Sonar, which is available on XLE and above.

RAV4 Hybrid driving rough off-road trail.

RAV4 Hybrid Efficiency

Other available safety technologies include a panoramic backup camera with customizable dynamic grid lines. The Limited grade adds a Bird’s Eye View Camera with perimeter scan, overhead 360-degree view, and curb view. Every model is equipped with Entune 3.0 multimedia, including Wi-Fi Connect powered by Verizon, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant capability, and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

The RAV4 Hybrid achieves an admirable 41 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the open road, at an entry price of $27,700.

Interior of Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.