15 years ago, Toyota launched the Prius in Canada. Their first entry into the gas-electric hybrid market paved the way for the rest of the field to follow suit. And since 2004, Toyota Canada has been the leader in hybrid sales, no doubt, due to the immensely popular Camry Hybrid's introduction to the market in 2006.
Following the same formula as they did with the Camry Hybrid, Toyota have taken their best-selling vehicle in the small CUV segment, thoroughly refreshed it, and made it even more attractive by offering a hybrid option for the first time. This will be the seventh hybrid offering for Toyota Canada.
The RAV4 Hybrid, aimed at younger families and couples looking for a versatile, small, good-looking, eco-friendly, fun, and capable CUV will go on sale starting this fall and Toyota will be revealing the full technical specs closer to that time. For now, here's what we do know.
The RAV4 Hybrid is powered by a 2.5L, four-cylinder engine, running the Atkinson cycle, augmented by an electric motor. Putting power to the ground is Toyota's Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel-Drive System. Power is primarily transferred to the front wheels until the robots inside the ECM detect changes to the weather conditions or slicker road surfaces, and at that time, feed power to the rear wheels as needed to keep things settled, controlled and civilized.
As mentioned earlier, exact specifications are not yet available but Toyota have said fuel economy will be best in class... by far. As far as power is concerned, the RAV4 Hybrid will deliver more power, quicker acceleration, and a large savings at the fuel pump over its gas-only brethren.
Styling-wise, the refreshed RAV4 gets more aggressive and in my opinion a hell of a lot sexier than the outgoing model. A stronger looking front fascia with available LED headlights, running Lights and high-low beam projectors makes the RAV4 look much more modern. A new rear bumper and lift gate with available reshaped LED taillights rounds out the new styling. Front and rear silver skid plate garnishes on most models and the shark fin antenna is standard.
Wheels options have all been refreshed for 2016, along with the addition of three new exterior paint colours - Silver Sky Metallic, Black Currant Metallic, and Electric Storm Blue.
Inside, Toyota have added a slew of new features that make the RAV4 seem much more advanced and refined. The materials have been upgraded with more soft-touch surfaces and a higher quality plastics throughout. A 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display in a revised gauge cluster is available, along with a 7-inch touchscreen multimedia display. All models except the LE come with a leather steering wheel. An additional USB port is added up front as well as a 12V power outlet being added to the rear. Perhaps, the most welcome change for a city's coffee-loving people, is the revised cupholder that's capable of holding large and tall mugs, even when equipped with a handle.
Additional convenience technologies include available front and rear parking sonar tech, Smart Key (keyless entry and start), and integrated garage door opener. All RAV4 SE and Limited models will come standard with SiriusXM All-Access Radio with a 3-month complimentary trial.
Also new for this year, is the Bird’s Eye View Monitor. This tech makes use of four cameras that are mounted on the front, side mirrors and rear of the vehicle to give the driver a panoramic view of their surroundings. The system offers drivers assistance when parallel parking, and when pulling in and out of tighter parking spaces. The Bird’s Eye View Monitor system also has an industry-first feature called Perimeter Scan, that gives drivers a live rotating 360 degree view of what's around the vehicle, helping them see objects that could potentially be in the way.
The new SE trim features unique 18-inch alloys, unique head and taillights, a sport-tuned suspension, SofTex Seats with power driver’s seat and contrast stitching, a unique lower grille, a 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-information display, twin dials, red illumination and red pointer. The SE also features a unique interior with a black headliner and gunmetal finish.
The 2016 RAV4 will be among the first North American models with Toyota Safety Sense (TSS). TSS is the new all-encompassing safety package anchored by automated pre-collision braking. TSS package includes the aforementioned Pre-Collision System; Forward Collision Warning; Lane Departure Alert; Automatic High Beams; Pedestrian Pre-Collision System, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. TSS will be available on 2016 RAV4 Limited grades.
The new RAV4 Hybrid will be a no-brainer for small CUV buyers, old and new. Toyota took their best-selling small CUV and similar to the Camry, added an option you'd be silly not to tick off. It'll get more power, more options standard and most importantly for many, a vastly improved fuel mileage rating.