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.
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.