The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid!

The renaissance underway at Toyota continues in the SUV class. Not only has the brand ditched diesel power from the RAV4 line-up – and indeed the rest of their passenger car range in favour of hybrid – but there’s also a new platform that promises better driving dynamics.

The Toyota RAV4 was the original ‘Sports Utility Vehicle’ (SUV). Now in its fifth generation, Toyota has reinvented the RAV4 upon the exciting new TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture). In Ireland the new Toyota RAV4 is powered by a 2.5-litre hybrid powertrain so from herein, it shall be known as the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid!

Priced from €35,900, the new RAV4 Hybrid has a stylish new look. It is a car transformed in styling terms. It is an altogether leaner and more angular SUV than the model it replaces, with more than a hint of the utilitarian design of the larger Landcruiser. It has an identity! In Ireland, 17” alloys and LED headlamps come as standard, while Sport models are available with a bi-tone paint option.

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is available from €35,900
The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is available from €35,900

The interior of the new Toyota RAV4

Inside there is a new interior that has stepped up in terms of quality and design. The dashboard has a clean horizontal design with soft touch materials and satin chrome features. There is a more ‘rugged’ feeling to the cabin of the RAV4 than say the new interiors of the Corolla family, with some large knobs to twist for the ventilation controls. It’s a marked improvement on the old car but it’s not the most stylish of the class. There is an 8” touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard, but the absence of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is a frustration.

However for buyers looking for a spacious family SUV, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid really does deliver. The new car has a longer wheelbase to create more interior space and there is generous seating in the rear for three with a flat floor. The opening angle of the rear doors has been increased so getting into and out of the vehicle and access to child seats has been made easier. The boot is also now a very generous 542 litres with a wide opening making it a practical space to work with. There is a height-adjustable, two-level deck board that can be reversed when dirty items need to be carried. The rear seats have a 60:40 split-folding function and there are storage nets on each side of the boot.

The interior of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The interior of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Equipment and specifications

Toyota Ireland is selling the new RAV4 in five grades: Aura, Luna, Sol, Sport and Platinum. Standard features on Aura models (from €35,900) will include 17” alloys, LED lights front and rear, dual exhaust tailpipes, black roof rails, electric parking brake, automatic lights, 7” multimedia system, dual zone climate control with rear vents, folding mirrors, driving mode selector and rear view camera. Toyota Safety Sense 2 is also standard, adding safety equipment such as automatic high beam, driver attention alert, eCall emergency call system, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, road sign assist and lane trace assist.

The Luna model (from €37,590) will add dark grey painted upper front grille, silver front underrun, chrome interior trim, auto wipers, power tailgate, Smart Entry & Start, 8” multimedia system, front fog lamps, and front and rear parking sensors.

The Sol (from €39,590) adds 18” alloys, rear privacy glass, heated front seats, leather upholstery and satellite navigation.

Sport (from €42,240) adds 18” machine-finished alloy wheels, bitone roof, projector LED headlamps, painted lower bumpers and mouldings, painted front fog lamp surrounds, unique sport leather upholstery, black headlining, driver’s electric seat adjustment and lumbar support, and paddle gear shift.

Platinum (from €43,000) features include 18” alloy wheels, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, chrome outer door handles, leather seats, grey headlining, memory driver seat adjustment, luggage net and heated steering wheel.

Rear legroom in the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Rear legroom in the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Driving the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The 2019 RAV4 has a new, improved 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain with more power and greater efficiency. Front wheel drive models now have 218hp, while all wheel drive models have 222hp. Power is put to the road through a CVT automatic gearbox.

Toyota has also done much with the new platform to improve the driving experience. The new RAV4 has a more rigid body and lower centre of gravity with every component lighter and located lower down in the vehicle for improved comfort and driving dynamics. The response from the electric power steering has also been improved.

On the road, the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid immediately feels more natural and balanced, handling confidently through corners with more fluid steering. It falls short of being one of the more engaging cars to drive in its class, but it’s a pleasant and competent drive. You sit high in the RAV4 and the driving position has been improved so you feel “more at one with the car”. It’s comfortable over Irish roads and properly efficient now that Toyota has ditched diesel. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 5.8l/100km, which is very good considering this is a large SUV! The only bugbear is the refinement of the vehicle with some wind whistle around the wing mirrors at high speeds on the motorway and the CVT transmission can get quite noisy when you accelerate hard, working better when gentle throttle is applied.

Toyota has transformed the RAV4 Hybrid into a stylish and contemporary SUV. The RAV4 Hybrid is a spacious SUV with a real individual and rugged look. With the absence of a diesel model, it’s competing in a higher price bracket where standards are high. Inside there’s a much improved interior, even if it is missing some sophistication. The efficiency of the vehicle is most surprising as Toyota has really delivered on creating a desirable and efficient hybrid large family SUV. The RAV4 Hybrid is a car you would be proud to see on your driveway!

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a stylish, spacious and efficient large family SUV!
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a stylish, spacious and efficient large family SUV!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Sol
Price:
€39,590 (range from €35,900)
Engine: 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
218 hp
Torque: 202 Nm
0-100km/h:
8.4 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.5 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
105 g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year