New Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid 2021 being tested


From a technological point of view, the RAV4 plug-in hybrid is an impressive achievement. This is a comfortable and sophisticated plug-in hybrid SUV – as long as you charge it from the plug instead of the engine. There’s a lot of space in the well-appointed and well-appointed cabin, and the trunk is still huge. The price is also high, but the extremely low tax rates on in-kind contributions mean Toyota could become a winner among company car buyers. The almost identical Suzuki Across is even cheaper.

Toyota’s hybrid competence will take a new turn with the launch in 2021: the RAV4 plug-in hybrid. It’s a bit of a missing link for this popular large SUV. Toyota made an all-electric RAV4 for its first two generations, but only for the US market, while the final version of the car to be replaced had a conventional hybrid powertrain to bring an electrified RAV4 to the masses.

Now that the CO2 targets are becoming increasingly difficult to achieve, Toyota sees plug-in hybrid drives as a unique selling point that offers mass market appeal combined with extremely low emissions and operating costs.

The new car has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 182 horsepower and is connected to a CVT transmission, but the focus is on the battery and the combination of two electric motors. There is a large battery under the rear seats with 18.1 kWh, while the front engine is equipped with 134 kW (176 hp) and the rear one with 40 kW (53 hp). The motor and the electric motors do not generate maximum power at the same time, so the peak power is given as 302 hp.

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With two electrified axles, the RAV4 drives its electric motors almost all the time. The engine is mainly used to generate charge and only occasionally sends the drive directly to the front wheels. The driver can scroll between four modes – EV for purely electric driving, EV / HV that automatically switches between fully electric and hybrid power, HV for purely hybrid driving and a charging mode in which the motor charges the battery while driving.

From the start, the RAV4 switches to EV mode by default if the battery is sufficiently charged. Always keep the cell charged – it can be charged in 7.5 hours from a household socket or in just 2.5 hours from a 7 kW wallbox – and there is plenty of fully electric range to lean on.

EV mode means just that, and little will bring the engine to use. Toyota claims up to 46 miles of all-electric driving is possible, and we’ve covered 35 noiseless miles with no real effort. The car is extremely quiet and safe enough for everyday use with an electric drive alone. Its acceleration is comparable to that of the entry-level 2.0-liter petrol engine RAV4. The top speed with electric propulsion is 84 mph.

When the battery runs out, the RAV4 will automatically switch to EV / HV mode, but you’ll still be wondering if the motor is involved. The transition between the two power sources is seamless and even a CVT doesn’t seem to be a problem. The engine retracts and extends, does its part when it is needed, and extends quietly when not needed. It’s a very impressive piece of engineering.

In addition to the drive options, you will also discover the Eco and Sport modes. They change the state of performance, whereby the eco mode dampens the throttle response in the pursuit of efficiency and the sport mode offers you maximum performance in one fell swoop.

Although 0-100 km / h takes just six seconds, the RAV4 isn’t a car you want to rush into. Instead, it’s a solid cross-country cruiser with good ride quality at high speed. However, the weight and firm suspension make it a bit fussy at low speed in the city and not quite as comfortable as the other RAV4 variants. It has nice steering, great visibility and lots of adult space in the front and rear. But Toyota’s newbie is heavy and feels like it. While 302 horsepower sounds like a recipe for fun, it’s best to sit back and enjoy the awe-inspiring sophistication.

The only flaw in this otherwise eerily slick and quiet package is revealed when you tap into recharge mode. Asking the engine to keep charging the battery results in a typical CVT howl. Uphill, the RPMs are intrusive and crude, but it’s a bit of a trade-off considering the rest of the package.

Toyota claims a fuel economy of 282.5mpg. That’s a pretty fanciful number, but you can expect around 55-60mpg or more in the real world if you do what you should and plug in every day. With CO2 emissions of just 22 g / km, company car users benefit most from the tiny tax rate of the RAV4 of just seven percent for the tax year 21/22. Those in the 40 percent bracket can expect a tax bill of around £ 1,424 next year, so compared to standout rivals, the Toyota’s finances make a lot of sense.

The only issue on his tail is the nearly identical Suzuki Across PHEV, which also has a slightly lower tax bill thanks to its slightly lower price tag – £ 1,275 for 21/22 for higher taxpayers. However, we found that the Suzuki wasn’t quite as comfortable on the road as the Toyota.

Prices for the RAV4 PHEV start at £ 47,395 with the Dynamic trim and increase to £ 50,895 for this Dynamic Premium car. That’s quite a chunk, and compared to competitors like the Peugeot 3008 HYBRID4, the RAV4 is an expensive option with its large battery.

But this equipment includes a panoramic roof, black leather upholstery and heated and cooled electrically adjustable seats. Even heated rear seats are standard. It feels plush and very well made, even if it lacks a bit of gloss in the design. The only real weak point is the nine-inch infotainment with its cheap looking buttons and outdated graphics. However, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you can get around this with a smartphone.

Model: Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid Dynamic Premium i-AWD
Price: £ 50,895
Engine: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder petrol-electric
Power / torque: 302 hp / N / A
Transmission: CVT automatic, all-wheel drive
0-62 / max: 6.0 seconds / 112mph
Economy / CO2: 282.5mpg / 22g / km
Electric range: 46 miles
On offer: Now

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