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Toyota refreshes RAV4, adds Hybrid model

Electric all-wheel drive adds torque on demand, reduces weight and complexity

Published: April 3, 2015, 3:25 PM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 2:02 PM

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Toyota continues down the electrification highway by introducing a hybrid version of its RAV4 compact utility vehicle, planned for the 2016 model year.

The RAV4 Hybrid is the eighth hybrid in Toyota’s stable as it strives to attain its goal of having a hybrid model of every volume seller in its line-up by 2020, and comes 15 years after the Prius introduced hybrid technology to North America.

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Available in the fall of 2015, the newest RAV4 will have minor cosmetic tweaks to differentiate it from the regular models (which all get slightly revised styling) that will also be freshened for the 2016 model year. Among the tweaks are a revised nose, lower body panels and tail, and LED lighting all around, as well as new wheels and colour choices. The Hybrid gets unique 17 inch wheels.

There are several neat features to the RAV4 Hybrid, besides better fuel economy. It will reportedly boast more horsepower and better acceleration than its conventional powertrain sibling.

Standard all wheel drive capability is provided by an electric motor on the rear axle, eliminating the need for a central driveshaft and, therefore, reducing weight; yet it still provides on-demand capability to meet various surface conditions.

Power to the front wheels will be delivered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine coupled with an electric motor and continuously variable transmission, with another integrated motor.

The electric all-wheel drivetrain is expected to become more commonplace in the industry as manufacturers strive to improve fuel economy while reducing weight and the number of mechanical moving parts.

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

New interior appointments include revisions to the touchscreen displays and instrument cluster, softer touch surfaces, and a revised cupholder that will safely seat a travel mug with a handle, as well as new interior colour combinations to match the exterior.

Technology enhancements include a new Bird’s Eye View monitor (created from views from cameras mounted front, rear and under the outside mirrors), and several new safety aids such as adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and mitigation, automatic high-beam off, and lane departure warning.

New RAV4s for North America will continue to be sourced from Toyota’s plant in Woodstock, Ontario.