New Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Is Likely On The Way, And Soon Too

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2013 Toyota RAV4

2013 Toyota RAV4

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Today, if you want a crossover utility vehicle that gets good fuel economy, you can have a hybrid or a diesel--but only in a mid-size vehicle.

There are no hybrid compact crossovers sold today, but Toyota may be about to change that.

A hybrid version of the new 2013 Toyota RAV4 crossover "would not be difficult to do," in the words of the vehicle's deputy chief engineer Yoshikazu Saeki.

He referred to "a possbility of introducing a hybrid RAV4" and said Toyota "will see" what the market wants after launching the conventional RAV4.

That's all corporate-speak that translates to, "Yes, we're going to do one, and fairly soon too."

Toyota has long said it will offer a hybrid model in essentially every vehicle line it sells within a few years, and the RAV4--one of the leading compact crossovers in the U.S.--is an obvious candidate.

Saeki spoke to the British magazine AutoExpress at last week's Los Angeles Auto Show, where the all-new 2013 Toyota RAV4 model was unveiled.

Along with evolutionary new styling, the redesigned crossover utlity drops its third-row seat and the optional V-6 engine.

The only engine offered is a 176-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, paired to a six-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels. All-wheel drive is optional.

2013 Toyota RAV4

2013 Toyota RAV4

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The new front-wheel drive model of the 2013 RAV4 is expected to deliver an EPA ratings of 24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway--which would produce a combined rating around 26 mpg.

Adding all-wheel drive will cut the projected ratings to 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, for a combined rating of roughly 24 mpg.

The likely powertrain for the RAV4 Hybrid is the same 2.5-liter engine, mated to Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system, as used already in the Camry Hybrid sedan and other models.

The mid-size Highlander Hybrid crossover is rated at 28 mpg, a 47 -percent improvement on the 19 mpg combined rating of the comparable non-hybrid Highlander.

So if a hybrid RAV4 were to improve by the same percentage, that might boost its combined rating as high as 35 mpg. A combined rating in the low 30s seems a safe possibility.

2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid - Driven, May 2011

2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid - Driven, May 2011

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What Saeki didn't discuss is whether and how a future RAV4 Hybrid would offer all-wheel drive, or whether it would be standard as it is on the larger Highlander Hybrid.

Would it use mechanical AWD, as the late lamented Ford Escape Hybrid did?

Or would a hybrid RAV4 add a separate electric motor to power the rear wheels, as the Highlander Hybrid does?

We'd expect a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to arrive within a year or two, making it a 2014 or possibly a 2015 model.

Meanwhile, to learn more about the new compact crossover, see this video preview of the new 2013 Toyota RAV4.


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Comments (6)
  1. I have the Highlander Hybrid, it's an awesome car and I think the electric AWD works perfectly. Hope the RAV4 goes this way, I guess this car is to compete with the Escape, even though Ford didn't come with Hybrid now

  2. I can get 60+mpg on my Prius C as long as I keep it at or below 40 mph by taking country roads with less stops. I look forward to driving it always (now 5000 miles). I want a Rav4 hybrid for long trips as it is easier to get in & out for a 74 yr old Polio victim. Bill C.

  3. This is just shameful how Toyota still doesn't have a small ute hybrid when they've had hybrid options in almost every other car class for many years. I remember reading years ago that this new redesigned Rav4 would for sure offer a hybrid trim line...and now Toyota isn't even sure if they will build Rav4 hybrids??? WTF???

    There are no other small ute hybrids so the market will fully embrace such a vehicle as long as it isn't too the Escape hybrid was. Toyota should simply install the same exact hybrid setup in the new rav4 as they have in the camry now. That rav4 hybrid would likely get mid 30s city/hwy mpg n be best in class by far. Charge about the same as the camry hybrid n it will freaking sell well!

  4. Ford was so DUMB to stop making the Escape Hybrid. The C-Max is a whimsy minivan.

  5. Please, please go all the way and make it a diesel hybrid with a small engine and bigger batteries with PLUG IN!

  6. Hanging in there with my 2006 Prius/50mpg/ 175,000 miles,
    until they finally make a hybrid RAV4....way overdue !

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