AS one of the world’s leading motor manufacturers specialising in hybrid technology it was only a matter of time before Toyota extended their hybrid range and the RAV4 SUV is the latest model to get this propulsion provision
The RAV4 which stands for Recreational Active Vehicle with four wheel drive was first launched over 20 years ago and the latest model which has had a facelift with the option of hybrid power along with diesel and petrol engines is now available with two and four wheel drive.
Inclusion of a hybrid power system in the RAV4 range coincides with that facelift which includes a new front grille that really improves the front of the car providing it with much stronger street appeal and including LED headlights for the first time.
It is nearly 20 years since Toyota introduced hybrid technology to their range and now most models have this system including the RAV4 and my test car which had four wheel drive had a powertrain of a 2.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor with an additional electric motor powering the rear axle to deliver electronic all wheel drive.
The test car was the RAV4 Hybrid Excel AWD 2.5 CVT which had continiously variable automatic transmission costing £31,490 - the combined system produced 194bhp with a top speed of 112mph a zero to 62mph time of 8.4 seconds a combined fuel consumption of 55.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 118g/km.
As well as exterior improvements the leather clad interior has also been given a makeover giving it quite a luxurious ambience and the impressive fascia that includes the user friendly controls and instruments also has a touch screen for functions like sat nav and reversing camera plus the radio functions which I found to be easy to select and operate.
At the rear the powered tailgate opens to reveal a large stowage area above a space saver spare wheel and beneath that are the batteries for the hybrid system.
This latest RAV4 is well loaded with standard kit that includes pre-collision system, lane keep assist, traction control, vehicle stability control, hill start assist, on-line connectivity and road sign and speed limit function.
The test car looked quite classy with its Barcelona red paintwork and the hybrid system worked well providing a very smooth and quiet drive in conjunction with the CVT automatic transmission - the drive was completely silent when the car moved just by battery power which was rather eerie.
Travelling on the motorway was very relaxing and the positive handling provided enjoyable motoring on winding country roads with the on board computer showing fuel consumption was slightly lower than the combined figure.
My only grumble concerned the row of controls for things like the heated front seats which was sited under the climate control panel and not all that easy to see and operate especially when driving - I had to stop to safely locate and operate the heated seat control.
The inclusion of hybrid power in RAV4 with its Benefit in Kind company car tax rating of 18% provides potential owners with more choice as well as petrol and diesel engines and should help to boost its sales.
Model: RAV4 Hybrid Excel AWD 2.5 CVT.
Power: Petrol electric.
Combined output: 194bhp.
Transmission: Electric CVT.
Top speed: 112mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 8.4 seconds.
C02 emissions: 118g/km.
Price: £31,490 on the road.