The 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is one of several different versions of Toyota’s top-selling compact SUV. While its increased fuel economy is offset by a higher price point, there are several other things you need to know about this SUV.
The RAV4 Hybrid uses a combination of a new 2.5L four-cylinder engine, part of many other Toyota models as part of a new global TNGA platform, along with a hybrid Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack. This combination utilizes the latest engine technology and battery tech from the automaker.
First, the engine uses all sorts of different technologies to enhance performance including dual variable valve intelligent timing system, D-4S direct injection along with port injection, longer stroke, higher compression ratio (14:1), variable cooling system, multi-hole nozzle direct injectors (six holes per injector) cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system and a variable oil pump.
Basically, the engine is more efficient than previous models, produces cleaner exhaust emissions and doesn’t suffer from carbon build-up issues due to both injection types.
This engine is paired then with the hybrid system comprising of two electric motors to supplement the charging of the battery located in the rear of the vehicle.
Behind the wheel of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is rather ordinary considering all of the engine technology under the hood. It is just like every other RAV4 trim with a few exceptions.
First, off the line, the powertrain utilizes the battery resulting in a whisper quiet acceleration. As the speed increases, and the energy monitor (replaces the tachometer) moves into the power mode, the engine kicks on and is a noticeable increase in sound. Is it bad? Not at all and through several days of driving, we got accustomed to it.
While the other powertrain option, a non-hybrid 2.5L four-cylinder, provides the typical engine noise, the hybrid powertrain is more than sufficient for the needs of this compact SUV. Plus, placing the battery in the rear allows for a more balanced vehicle and better handling than having just the engine only up front like in the case of the non-hybrid.
The 2020 RAV4 may never be confused with great driving cars, its quietness and improved handling stands out among other RAV4 models and the competition.
Like most hybrid vehicles these days, Toyota does limit the availability to select consumer grades.
The 2020 model is available in the LE, XLE, XSE and Limited grades as well as a variety of colors. There is an additional Adventure and TRD Off-Road trim both of which the hybrid is not available.
Finally, it is only offered in all-wheel drive configurations versus the non-hybrid which comes in front-wheel drive.
Starting with the hybrid, Toyota says that model is rated at 41/38/40 city/hwy/combined EPA estimated MPG. In our week of driving, we returned the same 40 mpg number.
For the gasoline versions, Toyota says the XLE FWD model has the best fuel economy at 28/35/30 while the other trims comes in at 27/35/30 with the off-road trims returning even less fuel economy.
Going with a non-hybrid AWD model, the fuel economy drops further to 27/33/29 making it a full 11 mpg less combined than the hybrid model.
Is the 11 MPG better fuel economy worth the upcharge? That is always the question with hybrids and in this case, the hybrid starts at $2,400 more than the non-hybrid.
Doing the math, if you were to drive 12,000 miles a year in both the AWD RAV4 or a Hybrid RAV4, you would see some differences at the pump. For example, the non-hybrid would use 413 gallons of fuel while the hybrid would use 300 gallons if you drove them the same way. As of this writing, AAA says the average price for a gallon of gas is $2. This translates into the non-hybrid using $826 of fuel while the hybrid uses $600. That difference works out to $226 which means it would take 10 years to break even on the upcharge for the hybrid.
Now, there are other differences as well like your desire to go to the gas station, how long you can maximize the system and run on the battery only (some owners could use less gas than others) and how much you factor in the better power delivery over the non-hybrid model.
Finally, one other important note, starting with the 2020 model year, every Toyota Hybrid Battery Warranty is being increased from 8 years or 100,000 miles to 10 years from the date of first use, or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first.
The hybrid RAV4, no matter how you look at it, definitely gives you something to consider when shopping for a compact SUV.
I look forward to seeing these on the road.