New Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid mixes hot hatch pace with Prius piety | CAR Magazine

New Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid mixes hot hatch pace with Prius piety

Published: 14 January 2020 Updated: 14 January 2020

► New Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid
► PHEV tech offers boosted e-running
► Euro specs: 29g/km CO2, 38-mile e-range

Toyota has long enjoyed leadership in the hybrid petrol-electric stakes – and now it’s gradually catching up with market demand for plug-in hybrids, that allow for short bursts of zero-emissions electric running and lowered CO2 ratings.

The new Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid (PHEV), originally unveiled at the 2019 LA motor show, is now poised to arrive in Europe, and they’ve confirmed more spec details. With a bigger-capacity battery so owners can plug in at home to start every day with a full charge, Toyota claims CO2 emissions of less than 29g/km, a 38-mile EV range at speeds of up to 84mph and anticipated fuel economy (on paper) of over 100mpg.

The RAV4 PHEV uses the familiar 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine to do the bulk of driving; EV mode is reserved for pottering around town and lower speeds – and that long electric range should be sufficient for most daily driving by most owners, reckons Toyota. The European daily average is just 19 miles.

The best hybrids and plug-ins

New 2020 Toyota RAV4 PHEV: plug-in hybrid boasts CO2 emissions of less than 30g/km

The RAV4 plug-in is also devilishly quick, boasting a combined power output of 302bhp – with a startling 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds. Although if you use all that oomph, you’ll likely deplete the battery charge in a jiffy…

Boot space stands at 520 litres.

There’s a bit of a delay before sales of the RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid start; it won’t arrive in UK showrooms until the second half of 2020.

More on the rest of the Toyota RAV4 range

The latest Toyota RAV4 was first unveiled at the 2018 New York motor show – and it’s a more chiselled, head-turning affair than earlier crossovers. It is, unbelievably, the fifth generation of RAV4, showing just how early they were with the first model back in 1994. Lifestyle SUVs? This was the original pioneer…

Based on the group’s latest Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) like the new 2018 Auris hatchback but here dubbed GA-K platform, the latest RAV4 is designed to offer a step-change improvement in dynamics, fuel efficiency, safety and packaging, according to its makers. Notably, there’s no diesel engine planned for it either. Slowly but surely, Toyota is moving to hybrid, petrol or nothing across its core passenger car range.

Talk me through the specs of the 2020 Toyota RAV4…

There’s a choice of two powertrains initially:

  • 2.0-litre petrol
  • 2.5-litre hybrid petrol-electric

Nearly everybody buys the hybrid; Toyota’s sold 130,000 in western Europe since launch in 2019, 115,000 of them the hybrid model.

Two-tone roof for the 2019 Toyota RAV4

At launch, the hybrid RAV4 claimed to be unique in class, although that position is unlikely to remain for long, as car makers race to electrify their crossovers. And the Honda CR-V hybrid may have a thing or two to say about that… You can order the petrol RAV4 in manual or auto (the hybrid is auto CVT only).

All-wheel drive is available under the AWD-i banner, and the hybrid set-up uses an additional, second electric motor to power the rear axle. The 2.0 petrol model’s AWD set-up is entirely mechanical. Although not an off-roader, shorter overhangs and a modest hike in ride height are claimed to provide better soft-roading ability.

Inside the cabin, Toyota claims a step change in quality. It’s roomier, too: the wheelbase is 30mm longer and the new RAV4 is 10mm wider at 1855mm. There’s the usual array of digital dials, tablet-style touchscreens and all the latest Japanese tech, including an EV button so you can save charge for whisper-quiet urban driving.

Toyota RAV4 interior and cabin

The use of the TNGA platform makes the RAV4 much better to drive than its predecessor. Despite its tip-toe SUV proportions, the newcomer does in fact have a lower centre of gravity, to the benefit of handling and nimbleness, its maker claims.

When can I buy the new RAV4?

Although shown in March 2018 in New York, we had to wait a wee while before you could place UK orders in the first quarter of 2019. The Toyota RAV4 range starts at £30,365 in the UK; no prices are yet available for the plug-in hybrid model.

New 2019 Toyota RAV4: the dripfeed build-up

Released ahead of the world debut in the Big Apple, Toyota drip-fed a series of teaser images and social media posts giving our first glimpse of the mid-size 4×4. Toyota’s US division released this tweet giving a quick video sweep-around of the new RAV4:

Which made us consider that the new SUV had a similar side profile to the Mazda CX-5, with a slab-ended rear and small spoiler sticking out.

The all-petrol line-up, with no diesel in sight, is hardly controversial in 2018: the hybrid currently makes up around 65% of the current-generation RAV4’s sales – despite our, er… less than enthusiastic review.

The new 2018 Toyota RAV4

Toyota has confirmed it is phasing out diesel in its passenger cars from 2018 and expanding its hybrid range offerings, instead. This applies across its car range, but excludes the Hilux, Proace and Land Cruiser utility vehicles.

Hybrids accounted for around 78% of all C-HR crossover sales last year, for example, and the brand is bringing not one but two hybrid offerings to the new Auris range – the already-in-service 1.8 Hybrid and the new 2.0 Hybrid.

Check out our Toyota reviews

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches