I was so in favour of the concept of a hybrid RAV4 I had to do significant amounts of research just to make sure such a thing had truly not existed yet. I was convinced Toyota had produced a hybrid RAV4 in the past – surely they did, it just makes so much sense as a trailblazer in both the hybrid and compact crossover fields. They hadn’t, though. This truly is the first ever RAV4 Hybrid.
One might expect that the company that epitomizes “hybrid” courtesy of the Prius, which by the way now spans three decades, would be a cinch to have a hybrid powertrain bolted into its ultra-popular crossover. Hell, even Ford did it with the Escape (for a while). It took until a year after luxury offshoot Lexus put this powertrain into the NX 300h that it comes to the RAV4.
Oh, and if you’re thinking, “What about the RAV4 EV”? That was a California-only anomaly.
Point is, the RAV4 is now available with hybrid power and I personally think that’s a good decision.
The blue paint on the outside was an equally good decision, this bold colour adds a bit more character to the RAV4 and gives it a visual presence I thoroughly enjoyed – then I opened the door.
Holy brown bonanza, Batman! The seats, door trim and dashboard sport the same horrific orange-brown hue you might see on an aging C-list actor. I was frightened and confused. Other than the offensive colour though, the RAV4 interior is kind of nice. The centre console is interesting with odd-shaped storage bins but not too quirky, the infotainment screen and climate controls make decent sense and the steering wheel is an up-spec leather-stitched affair with reasonably convincing fake aluminum trim. The gauges are simple but colourful and the centre TFT screen provides a wealth of clear information for the driver.
Ergonomically everything was right about where you would expect it, with only the tuning knob a bit of a reach for my below-spec arm length [T-Rex spec –Ed.].
We did a detailed dive into Toyota’s infotainment system during our Corolla long-term test, the RAV4 Hybrid adds some hybrid-specific powertrain graphics and metering plus a drive performance report to that system. It’s a good-looking one, and I found myself using it more than the very useful split-screen homepage just because I liked the aesthetics.
Underneath all the main controls there’s a row of buttons for the drive modes (EV, Eco, Sport) seat warmers, windscreen de-fogger, USB and 12V outlet. To the left of the steering wheel are buttons for the steering wheel heater (yeeeeeaassssss!!!) lane-departure warning and power mirrors. There are even memory seat buttons for the driver seat – fancy.
Also on Autos.ca: Test Drive: 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid
The Technology Package here added a JBL 11-speaker sound system, auto high beam, dynamic radar cruise, the lane-departure warning, front and rear parking assist and a birds-eye view monitor as well as pre-collision with pedestrian detection. At $2,675 it’s probably a reasonable omission from your list, as a rear-view camera and blind-spot detection plus normal cruise are all standard on the Limited trim anyway, as is that heated steering wheel, the 18-inch alloys, the power tailgate and an itty-bitty sunroof.