RAV4 Hybrid pushes all the right buttons

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited is a compact crossover that won’t break the bank at the gas station.

  • 2017 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid

THE PROS & CONS

    • What’s Best: The Hybrid RAV4 offers lots of power and a seamless transition from gas-powered engine to battery power.
    • What’s Worst: Buttons, buttons and more buttons.
    • What’s Interesting: The bird’s-eye view camera is a great safety feature.

There are three things that stick out for me during my week behind the wheel of the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

One. The buttons. Everywhere I looked, there were buttons, buttons and more buttons. By the time I returned the vehicle back to Toyota, I still had not discovered what they all did.

Two. One of my favourite buttons was situated just to the right of the steering wheel. It offers a bird’s-eye view of the vehicle and was a great safety feature.

2017 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid

Push the button, and the monitor switches to a camera that rises above the RAV4 and provides a 360-degree view of the vehicle. It then offers a shot from above the RAV4 showing you exactly what is beside, behind and in front of the RAV4.

Third. When I returned the RAV4, I filled it up and even though gas had hit $1.17 a litre, it cost me only $25. That included one trip to Toronto and daily trips between Bowmanville and Oshawa.

If ever you were arguing with someone about the benefits of a hybrid vehicle, that point should be at the top of your list.

Also Read: Outlander PHEV: Mitsubishi adds spark to hybrid segment

The 2017 RAV4 compact crossover comes with a gas engine or a hybrid. My tester for the week was the 2017 RAV4 Hybrid Limited. The RAV4 comes in numerous configurations with the gas model offering both forward- and all-wheel drive. My hybrid featured all-wheel drive.

I haven’t driven too many hybrids and when I first pushed the start button to turn on the engine I was concerned it hadn’t started. I couldn’t hear the engine.

Even when I put it into reverse, it took a second for the engine to come to life. If you aren’t use to the sound, it comes on like a thud. Two or three times during the week I actually slammed on the brakes thinking I had hit something.

2017 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid

My RAV4 featured a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder hybrid synergy drive engine matched with a continuously variable transmission.

The gas-powered RAV4 also features a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.  The gas-powered engine offers 176 hp while the hybrid bumps that to 194 hp. A number of times I threw the engine into sport mode and each time I was surprised just how quick it was from a dead stop.

The Hybrid Synergy Drive system controls switching between the gas engine and the electric battery power. According to Toyota, regenerative braking captures excess energy from applied brake pressure to recharge the RAV4 Hybrid’s battery – so that you never have to plug in. And hybrid batteries, designed to last as long as the car, are covered by an eight-year/160,000 km warranty.

2017 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid

The only time I could tell when I was running on battery power was when the display on the dash was indicating it.

Car companies like to provide journalists with the top-of-the-line model of the vehicle they are testing so they can see everything it offers.

Also Read: Niro, Finally – a sub-compact hybrid that’s fun to drive

But a quick look at the schematics for the RAV4 shows it includes a very healthy package of standard features including Toyota’s Safety Sense P which includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control, which adjusts the distance between yourself and the car in front of you when the cruise is on, and automatic high beams.

2017 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid

While I wasn’t overly excited about the front styling of the RAV4 that sentiment wasn’t true for the interior.

First, while there were buttons galore inside, they were all within reach. Not once did I feel like I had to take my eyes off the road to reach something.

And while some crossovers claim to seat five, the second row seating is only comfortable for younger passengers.

2017 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid

A trip for Chinese food with three boys over the age of 20 proved that wasn’t the case with the RAV4. Not once did I hear, “move your feet!”

At $43,648 the Hybrid RAV4 is a little pricey for many families but if you are looking for a hybrid with plenty of interior room and fantastic gas mileage, Toyota may just have what you are looking for.

2017 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid

2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

BODY STYLE: Compact four-door crossover

DRIVE METHOD: All-wheel drive with continuously variable transmission

ENGINE: 2.5-litre, four cylinders (195 hp). Toyota lists the gas-powered RAV4 with 172 lb/ft torque at 4,100 rpm but no torque information for the hybrid.

FUEL ECONOMY: 6.9/7.8/L/100 km, city/highway.

CARGO: 35.6 cu ft behind rear seats; 70.6 cu ft with back seats down.

TOW RATING: Some models of the gas-powered RAV4 are rated for 1,500 lbs. There is no rating for the Hybrid Limited.

PRICE: RAV4 Hybrid Limited starting price, $43,648.

WEB SITE: www.toyota.ca

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