2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid first drive review: All the bits and pieces in place Page 2

2019 Toyota RAV4

Street starts are smooth, with a hint of surging on more-deliberate throttle inputs. The RAV4 Hybrid’s engine cuts out silently at stop lights.

Relatively large brakes—12-inch in front and 11-inch in rear—bring the RAV4 Hybrid to a halt and have good pedal feel. We didn’t notice any of the forward surging that used to plague Toyotas at traffic lights.

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The RAV4 Hybrid XSE has sportier suspension settings and 18-inch alloy wheels, plus glossy black interior and exterior bits that automakers seem to equate with sports cars. Its ride felt a hair firmer, but the difference in steering tuning is barely noticeable. Still, the fact that the XSE trim isn’t available on the non-hybrid RAV4 suggests a notable strategic shift as Toyota seeks to electrify its lineup: Hybrids are no longer just the “eco” version; they’re also the “premium” and “sporty” one.

We didn’t have an opportunity to formally measure the RAV4’s fuel economy. However, a spirited jaunt up Laureles Grade toward Laguna Seca and then back down to Carmel returned an EPA-pleasing 39 mpg, according to the trip computer.

The RAV4 Hybrid starts at $28,745 for the LE trim, but the $30,545 XLE brings a host of worthwhile upgrades. Adding heated seats, a power liftgate, and a power driver’s seat bumps the price by about $1,300, but still keeps the RAV4 Hybrid will under the average new car price.

All those elements—design, packaging, and powertrain—come together to create a compelling small crossover SUV.

Internet Brands Automotive accepted some travel expenses from Toyota to bring you this firsthand drive report.

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