Since its launch as the world’s original recreational / lifestyle SUV in 1994, the Toyota RAV4 has continued to evolve to meet the changing needs and preferences of customers, ensuring it is currently one of the world’s best-selling vehicles.
Building on this success as a pioneer of hybrid power among SUVs, Toyota is now introducing the new RAV4 plug-in hybrid. Toyota says that it is a new flagship vehicle for its hybrid line-up that promises to be not only more powerful, but also more emission and fuel-efficient than any other in its class.
Toyota also says this first plug-in hybrid-electric version of the RAV4 draws on more than 20 years of their leadership in hybrid powertrain technology. It is the fifth generation of this popular range. It adds that it is a model that is one of Europe’s most popular SUVs with more than 130,000 customer orders since its launch early in 2019, including more than 115,000 hybrids (Western European orders).
Toyota adds that the new RAV4 plug-in hybrid will offer customers an even more electrified solution, featuring the latest hybrid-electric vehicle technology, with higher power and better driving dynamics. It adds that the new model also has a genuine pure electric EV driving capability, free from concerns about driving range or the need to stop to recharge the battery.
Better performance and efficiency promised
Toyota claims that new powertrain has the potential to deliver acceleration from zero to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds, which it says outperforms any of its conventionally powered rivals. Moreover, it says that it is also on course to deliver best-in-class CO2 emissions and fuel economy, with a claimed WLTP-standard data that indicates CO2 output of less than 29g/km.
The new RAV4 plug-in hybrid is constructed on Toyota’s GA-K platform, which it says offers added dynamic benefits achieved by locating the hybrid battery beneath the floor. It adds that the new model is also equipped as standard with the Toyota’s AWD-i intelligent electric all-wheel drive system.
The Japanese carmaker tells us that it has developed a new, high-capacity lithium-ion battery and added an enhanced boost converter to the hybrid system’s power control unit. The 2.5-litre Hybrid Dynamic Force petrol engine is based on the unit featured in the regular RAV4 Hybrid, with claimed improvements to meet the performance requirements of the plug-in hybrid system.
It claims that the result is not just rapid off-the-line acceleration, but that the RAV4 plug-in hybrid has a greater driving range in electric EV mode, with zero petrol consumption and exhaust emissions.
With four driving modes available, Toyota says that the driver can switch from hybrid to pure EV driving. It adds that this new EV mode enables the RAV4 plug-in hybrid to cover more than 65km on electric power alone (battery charge and driving conditions permitting), further than any competitor plug-in hybrid SUV. Claimed speeds up to 135 km/h can be reached without any intervention of the internal combustion engine, even under full acceleration.
We are also told that the compact dimensions of the lithium-ion battery allow it to be contained entirely beneath the vehicle floor. With minimal intrusion in the load space, with cargo capacity being a generous 520 litres. It adds that the battery’s location low in the vehicle also helps give the RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid a low centre of gravity, enhancing handling stability and ride comfort. We will hopefully test this assertion when it goes on sale here.
Toyota tells us that it has also adapted the heat pump air conditioning system it introduced as a world-first in the current, second generation Prius plug-in hybrid, which Toyota says is more efficient than engine heating or high-powered electric heaters, absorbing heat from the air outside the vehicle to warm the cabin
More refined and sportier design
The photograph from Toyota shows styling details that boast a more refined and sportier look. At the front there is a dark plating for the dedicated grille mesh and frame and headlight extensions, together with a new metallic finish on the lower bumper moulding that emphasises the width and strength of the vehicle’s stance.
In the cabin, Toyota says that the focus is on new upholstery designs with a sporty feel, with ribbed patterns with contrast red detailing. It adds that the centre console features a nine-inch multimedia touchscreen display (the largest in any RAV4 model), which it says will deliver clear and easy control of the car’s entertainment, information and connectivity functions.
Toyota boasts that equipment specifications will reflect the RAV4 plug-in hybrid’s flagship status. Without any indication of which grade, promised features and options will include 19-inch alloy wheels, heated front and rear seats, a 230V power outlet in the cabin, a bi-tone exterior paint finish, power tailgate, nine-inch display audio system, and the latest Toyota multimedia package with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
Commenting on the new RAV4 plug-in hybrid ,Toyota Ireland CEO Steve Tormey claims this new option will cement the carmaker’s leadership in the drive to a full zero emissions society.
He said: “Toyota is constantly innovating, and this best-in-class plug-in hybrid will be an excellent option for customers looking to further extend their electrified driving. The RAV4 is one of our most popular models and it was a runaway success in 2019, with the majority of our dealers selling out of their allocation by midyear 2019, and we are expecting a lot of customer demand for this model in 2020.”
The Irish specifications and prices for the new RAV4 plug-in hybrid will be released closer to the Irish launch in the second half of this year.