No rhythm in cymbals, no tempo in drums..
Toyota are the worlds leading Hybrid car manufacturer. It was no surprise when in early 2016, they added hybrid technology to their medium sized SUV the RAV4. Having driven & liked the diesel version the model most likely to appeal to company car driver, the hybrid RAV4 with it’s BIK benefits, has been launched to increase the appeal of the Toyota hybrid range, meaning that for the hybrid friendly fleet manager, they can now add the RAV4 to that equation.
The RAV4h gets a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, electric motor, continuously variable automatic transmission borrowed from Lexus. Entry-level Business Edition models are front-wheel drive, with all other versions featuring an extra electric motor connected to the back axle to deliver 4WD. The top of the range Excel model claims 55.4mpg combined with CO2 emissions of 118g/km, both making on paper anyway a compelling case for the hybrid RAV4 over the diesel.
As a practical proposition the RAV4h is very appealing, with excellent cabin space for five adults & a cavernous boot that holds 501 litres of stuff. Fold the rear seats down & this pace increases 1633 litres, so despite the addition of the battery, the hybrid version of the RAV, is pretty spacious.
The high roof line & airy cabin is a great place to spend some time. My son & I visited family in Surrey during the recent school half term, a journey from home of around 210 miles each way. Although all but 20 miles of this was on the motorway, featuring the M6, M42, M40, M4 & M3, the RAV in cruise control ate up the miles & left me relaxed after our journey. When decelerating & then accelerating again, the engine rather roars as the variable transmission works the car back up to cruising speed. The cabin copes quite well with the increased decibels & it’s nice to know that the hybrid has sum guts. The RAV4 delivers 195bhp & will hit 62mph from a standing start in 8.4 seconds, but it doesn’t feel that quick.
Around town & in traffic is where the RAV really shines. Start the engine & well, there’s nothing & as you pull away the car moves forward on battery power. As your speed increases the petrol engine kicks in. In traffic it is sublime & let’s face it there is plenty of that at the moment right across our road network. The quietness in the cabin when using your hands-free Bluetooth device, is a welcome bonus. The excellent Media system fitted to the RAV allowed me to listen in clarity to my favourite DAB radio stations.The built in SatNav was easy to programme & the touchscreen functions worked well. In fact it’s hard to criticise the dashboard & its functionality except to say the some of it is a little bland, especially when compared to the dashboard found in sitter brand Lexus’s new range.
My Excel model was very well equipped, with a list of goodies a mile long. These include dusk sensing headlights, rain sensing wipers, smart entry with push button start, electric windows, power tailgate, dual zone climate control, DAB, heated front seats, leather upholstery, follow-mthomeheadlights, a rear view camera, leather steering wheel & gear knob & front & rear parking sensors. On the outside, there are heated retractable door mirrors, rear privacy glass, roof rails, 18”alloys, front fog lights, LED headlights, LED daytime running lights & a sunroof. Extras to the basic car were Toyota Touch & Go Plus, which features a 7” touchscreen, six speaker audio system with DAB tuner & CD player, SatNav, text to speak function, SMS text & e mail display, on line connectivity with access to online services, & advanced Bluetooth. Safety is also top-notch, with front, side, curtain & drivers knee airbags, ABS with EBD, traction control, vehicle stability control & hill-start assist control.
The claimed combined fuel economy on the hybrid is 55.4 mpg with emissions an impressive 118g/km. I managed to put over 600 miles on the Rav’s speedo in my week in it. On the motorway & in cruise mode the on-board trip computer showed me averaging very nearly 45mpg. Add in the time spent in traffic & this fell to 39.9 mpg, a good 5-10mpg better than I managed to achieve in the diesel RAV in 2014, which is certain to appeal to fleet managers. Of course the hybrid BIK of just 18% is also appealing, so coupled with better economy than in the diesel version, it is only the P11d cost that will sway it. Toyota offer a Business Edition Plus hybrid, costing £26,195 with the the diesel Business Edition version £24,595. Currently the RAV4 Business Edition Plus can be leased from £242 per month, the diesel slightly less at £230 per month, so both are competitively priced.
Comparison with equivalent models would bring the Mazda CX5 & Honda CRV to the table, but neither offers a hybrid version. In diesel form they are both, with the diesel RAV4, hard to separate, so at the very least but having a hybrid, RAV4 customers who choose Toyota at least have a choice, which has to be a good thing.
Overall, I would conclude, that although at first I was not convinced by the idea of a hybrid RAV4, after a week driving one I had completely changed my mind. Is it an age thing I don’t know, but there’s something to be said for choosing an easy-driving CVT auto box, particularly if you drive long distances today, over a manual diesel, so hat’s off to Toyota for offering customers a hybrid option, although if I were being brutally honest, I would choose the diesel RAV if I really had to.
A lower your sights, but raise your aim 3.5/5