5 Things To Know About The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

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Here’s some shorthand on Toyota’s high-tech hybrid compact crossover.

Here in BestRide’s West Coast outpost, I had a chance to drive the new-for-2016 RAV4 Hybrid in Limited trim, and I came away impressed.

Check out East Coaster Nicole Wakelin’s RAV4 Hybrid driving impressions, which mostly mirror my mine. Here are the five standout points from my tester.

1. It feels familiar.

The 2016 RAV4 Hybrid is Toyota’s eighth hybrid, and if you’ve driven any of the seven that came before, then you’ll feel right at home here. The energy-recovering brakes have the same springy pedal travel as a Prius’s, and power application is generally smooth but can occasionally be caught distracted as the system switches in its power sources.

It’s nothing out of the ordinary if you’re familiar with this breed of Toyota, and if you’re not, the RAV4 Hybrid would likely become predictable soon enough.

2. It’s peppy.

Total hybrid system output is 194 horsepower, and except for the occasional hybrid flat-footedness, the tested RAV4 Hybrid moved out quickly when it found its focus. Play it right, and the RAV4 Hybrid feels notably stronger than the four-cylinder versions of competing crossovers, which is logical – the RAV4 Hybrid has nine more horses than the Honda CR-V and 15 more than the 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine in the 2017 Escape. It also beats the regular RAV4 by 14 horses.

3. It’s heavy.

Curb weight in the RAV4 Hybrid is up about 320 pounds over a conventional RAV4 – you’d be comparing all-wheel drive versions because the Hybrid doesn’t come in front-wheel drive – and it’s in those occasional times when you catch a lag in the hybrid system’s response that you feel the mass.

Toyota says that the tested Limited AWD is just a bit less than two tons at 3,950 pounds, and so the hybrid system’s extra power earns its keep as it pulls the ample RAV4 Hybrid to 60 mph in a claimed and believable 8.1 seconds.

4. Gas mileage is terrific.

No surprise here, as hybrids usually whomp their conventional competitors with their efficiency. The EPA says 34 mpg city for the RAV4 Hybrid, which lords over the regular RAV4’s 22 mpg.

Here in San Francisco, where the steep hills kill any vehicle’s mileage, it’s expected for four-cylinder crossovers to end up in the 15-18 mpg range. The RAV4 Hybrid was similarly consistent in running under its EPA numbers, but I couldn’t get this one below 28 mpg.

5. The cheaper XLE trim has an uncommonly tight turning radius. 

Whether in the city or on the suburban errand run, a wide turning berth can make even a compact crossover feel cumbersome. The Ford Escape AWD has a turning radius of nearly 39 feet, which is in the territory of full-sized sedans. The Honda CR-V AWD cuts that to a more reasonable 36.9 feet, and the tested RAV4 Limited’s radius is only 0.1 feet wider than the Honda’s.

But replace the Limited’s 18-inch wheels with the XLE’s 17-inchers, and that radius shrinks to 34.8 feet. That’s not a small thing; you’ll feel like king of the quick maneuver when you have a car that can turn tightly, and the RAV4 Hybrid is suspended stiffly enough that it won’t feel ponderous doing so.

Get current prices on RAV4 Hybrids in your area with BestRide.com’s local listings.