The Toyota RAV4 is America's Favorite Crossover SUV
Believe it or not, America’s favorite crossover SUV has been around for nearly 30 years. Debuting in 1994, the RAV4 was made for consumers looking for added cargo room and optional four-wheel drive with all the fuel economy of a compact. In 2019 the RAV4 was the best-selling SUV in the world and by 2020 Toyota had sold 10 million of the plucky crossovers globally.
The hybrid version of the RAV4 came out in 2019 followed by the plug-in hybrid Prime variant in 2020. Now for 2023 a new Woodland Edition package will bring rugged off-road adventure to the mix including special suspension and all-terrain tires. As you may know, Toyota already offers a TRD Off-Road version of the gasoline powered RAV4, but this is the first true off-road package for the hybrid version.
The RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition
This camp-ready crossover will feature Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires and adventurous design cues thanks to its adventurous bronze wheels, mud flaps, a beefier roof rack, special exhaust tips and unique badging. The TRD suspension offers tuned springs and shocks that are ready to take on the rockiest canyons. Indeed, this is the first RAV4 Hybrid that appears ready to ford streams and climb mountains.
To continue the aggressive off-road theme, the interior includes rubber floor mats that sport the Woodland Edition logo for all-weather protection. Who would have thought of a RAV4 that could be bad-to-the-bone? There’s even a 120-volt electric outlet in the cargo area, possibly to heat up hot dogs and baked beans for your camping pleasure. While Toyota hasn’t released the MSRP for this outdoorsy crossover, we figure it will be close to 40k.
By comparison, the entry level RAV4 Hybrid’s MSRP is just $29,575 and delivers the same roomy and practical interior as the traditional RAV4. However, the Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Prime versions are quicker than the gasoline-only RAV4s. In fact, the Prime version will beat the four-cylinder variant of the Supra sports car from a rolling start.
Toyota keeps upping the options on this popular pavement pounder, including a new SE trim level in 2022 and the 2023 models will all get an upgraded 8-inch infotainment touchscreen inside with an optional 10-5-inch touchscreen and 12-3-inch digital gauge cluster. Those screens will run the latest new Toyota infotainment Audio Multimedia software with five times the processing speed for more music, phone, text, and navigation goodies. There’s also Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 driver assist features including intersection support, emergency steering assist, pre-collision with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert, and more. Key changes for 2023 hope to give drivers more peace of mind as well as more capability and connectivity.
On the outside, new wheel designs will be available for the XLE, Premium, Limited, and XSE models and also include a sunroof, keyless entry, power seats, automatic LED high-beams, and fog lamps.
Though Toyota has surpassed the 200,000-unit cap for the federal EV tax credit, you may still be eligible for this credit though the amount will begin to drop. Plus, there are state and local incentives to buy a hybrid or plug-in hybrid that are still in full effect.
Power and Performance
The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is assisted by two electric motors for a combined 219 horsepower. One of the electric motors powers the rear wheels while the other one helps the gasoline motor drive the front wheels for standard all-wheel drive. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) keeps the shifting smooth and extremely efficient. This combination is also faster than the gasoline-only version, taking you from zero to 60 miles per hour in 7.4 seconds. The Prime version is the quickest of all RAV4s, handling the same chore in just 5.6 seconds!
Like all RAV4 models, the Hybrid and plug-in hybrid Prime variants offer competent handling and a comfortable ride though the electric motors definitely give you more pep around town with their immediate surge of power. The Prime’s 18.1-kWh battery pack allows you to drive 42 miles on electric-only power before the gasoline engine kicks in. While the standard 3.3-kWh onboard charger takes 12 hours to charge, an optional 240-volt, 6.6-kWh charger cuts that time down to 2.5 hours.
The RAV4 Hybrid is far more fuel-efficient than the gas-only version, with EPA estimates of 41 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway for 40 mpg combined. As a point of reference, the regular RAV4 gets 30 mpg combined.
Checking out the Cabin of the RAV4 Hybrid
You’ll find the RAV4 Hybrid’s interior to be perfectly outfitted to move your family wherever they need to go. There is plenty of storage space in various compartments and you can store ten carry-on suitcases behind the rear row of seating, over twenty carry-ons with those seats folded in the down position. The comfortable crossover feels well built with very good attention to detail and all the necessary controls are easily at hand.
Even the base level RAV4 Hybrid includes a tilting, telescoping steering wheel, storage under the cargo area, and dual-zone climate control. A six-speaker sound system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a Wi-Fi hotspot are standard. Higher trim levels bring you such niceties as heated seats, Toyota’s SofTex leather-look upholstery, ambient interior lighting, and an 11-speaker JBL stereo system.
As mentioned earlier, Toyota offers impressive Safety Sense driver assist technology on all RAV4s. Automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control are all standard features.
America’s Best-Selling SUV
In a world where SUVs and crossovers are by far the favorite vehicles on the road today, one vehicle stands proudly at the top of the best-selling list and that vehicle is the RAV4. It is in the number one spot, edging out the Honda CR-V in second place, and the Nissan Rogue in third. Last year, Toyota sold 313,447 RAV4s in this country where total SUV sales were over one million units.
In 2021 the RAV4 took Kelley Blue Book’s Best Resale Value award and in 2022 it took the Best Buy award as well as the NHTSA’s 5-star overall safety rating. No less an auto industry leader than Kelley Blue Book also awarded the RAV4 Hybrid the number one Best Hybrid SUV of 2022 and 2023. We’d call that high praise indeed.