New Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid lands in LA

Published: 20 November 2019

► New Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid
► PHEV tech offers boosted e-running
► Revealed at Los Angeles auto show

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), unveiled at the 2019 LA motor show, has a bigger capacity battery, letting owners plug in at home so they start every day with a full charge. Result? CO2 emissions of less than 30g/km, a 37-mile EV range and anticipated fuel economy (on paper) of over 100mpg.

It uses the same 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 e-range will be sufficient for most driving by most owners, reckons Toyota. Bit of a delay before sales start; it won't arrive here until the second half of 2020.

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...

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, judging by these first official photos. 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, the latest RAV4 promises 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

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 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 should be 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 should make 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.

Although no official economy or CO2 figures are available yet, Toyota is claiming good advances in both to make this more fuel - and tax - efficient.

When can I buy the new RAV4?

Although shown in March 2018 in New York, you'll have to wait a wee while before you can place UK orders. European deliveries won't commence until 'the first quarter of 2019,' says Toyota.

No word yet on pricing, although we don't expect a substantial change from today's positioning. A RAV4 starts from around £25,000 in Great Britain.

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 4x4. 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.

Few other details on the new 2019 Toyota RAV4 are available at the moment, but we’ll have more details soon - straight from the NYIAS floor.

Check out our Toyota reviews

By Jake Groves

CAR's staff writer, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches