2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: Competent, Comfortable with 30+ MPG Fuel Economy [Review]

2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SE
[Photo: Arv Voss]

WHAT’S NEW

The RAV4 has grown in stature over its 22 year existence, adding 22-inches to its overall length. It is one of the roomiest vehicles in its segment, yet remains easy to maneuver and to park. Seating is adequate for five adults, with a competitive 37.2 inches of rear legroom and, behind the rear seat, 38.4 cu. ft. of cargo capacity (35.6 cu. ft. for Hybrid). With the rear seats folded, that space expands to 73.4 cu. ft. (70.6 cu. ft. for Hybrid). The rear seatbacks recline back up to 24 degrees for added passenger comfort, and rear privacy glass is standard on all RAV4 models.

The RAV4 Hybrid is now available in four grades for the 2018 model year: LE, XLE, SE, and Limited. Hybrid LE models build on the standard equipment of the LE gas model, while adding other standard features such as roof rails, the Smart Key System, dual-zone automatic climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, and more.

My test Toyota RAV4 Hybrid came in the SE trim or grade level in an AWD configuration. Toyota sets the base mark for the SE at $32,185, while the as-tested sticker came to $33,270. The only other option was a tonneau cover, and that final sum includes the destination charges.

2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SE
[Photo: Toyota]

COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

The RAV4 Hybrid SE adds features onto the LE and XLE trims. Those include automatic LED headlights, running lights, and taillamps. You also get 18-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels and a height-adjustable power liftgate. On the comfort side, there is a leather 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support and a 4-way adjustable front passenger seat, both of which are heated. Toyota configured the RAV4’s second row in a 60/40 split. They do recline, have a center armrest, and can fold flat when you’re carrying cargo. Toyota also offers accessories like protective door sill plates and floor mats, as well as a host of other personalization options.

The RAV4 Hybrid comes with Toyota’s standard Entune audio system, with a 6.1-inch touch-screen display, navigation capability, and six speakers. An Entune Premium Audio System is available on the XLE and standard on the Limited. Another, “Entune Premium JBL” system is available on this SE model and the Limited.

Every RAV4 is outfitted with Toyota Safety Sense P. The system combines pre-collision braking, Lane Keep Assist, adaptive Radar Cruise Control and Pedestrian Detection.  Complementing the Safety Sense suite is standard Hill-Start Assist Control, as well as available Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

An ECO mode in the 2018 RAV4 Hybrid optimizes throttle response and the HVAC system to maximize fuel economy. A monitoring system located in the 4.2-inch TFT screen, as well as the infotainment display, informs the driver where energy is traveling at any given moment. The 2018 RAV4 Hybrid has an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 34 mpg city/30 mpg highway/32 mpg combined.

Toyota-RAV4-Hybrid-Eng
[Photo: Arv Voss]

PERFORMANCE

Hybrid grades come equipped with an Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel-Drive System with intelligence (AWD-i) as standard. A second, independent electric motor drives the rear wheels when needed to help maintain optimal traction. The 2018 RAV4 Hybrid combines output from a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and a small high-torque electric motor. Combined system output stands at 194 horsepower, more than the gas-only RAV4’s 176 figure. Mind you, it does have more weight to haul around.

The MacPherson strut front suspension and double-wishbone style multi-link rear suspension allow the RAV4 to soak up bumps with ease. SE grades receive uniquely sport-tuned shock absorbers and coils for an enhanced sporty driving quality. On top of that, the electric power steering is weighted well to provide a precise feel and quick response.

Acceleration is more than adequate, especially with the combined power application of both the gas and electric power sources, and the operation is virtually undetectable to the casual observer. The body structure of the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid incorporates extensive use of high-strength steel providing a stiff, yet light platform architecture, and is the foundation for the car’s smooth, comfortable ride quality, competent handling agility and quiet cabin.

Toyota-RAV4-Hybrid-RSD
[Photo: Arv Voss]

TFLCAR’S TAKE

The 2018 Toyota RAV4 SE AWD Hybrid is a solid choice when looking for a dependable and versatile compact crossover. Hybrid-related components, including the battery and the hybrid control module, are covered under warranty for eight years or 100,000 miles. However, in some states hybrid-related component coverage is 15 years or 150,000 miles with the exception of the hybrid battery, which is covered for 10 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first.

If you live in snow-prone areas, you’re bound to need a competent all-wheel drive system. How well does the (albeit ordinary) RAV4 perform? Watch the video below to find out. Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow for more news, views, and hybrid reviews!

SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SE AWD

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP:

 

$32,185.
Price as Tested:
$33,270.
Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive System includes:

Engine Type and Size: 2.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve inline 4-cylinder with Dual VVTi and electronic fuel injection.

Electric Motors:
Motor Generator 1 (MG1) – Function Generator, engine starter, charges hybrid battery
– Type Permanent magnet motor
– Max. voltage AC 650V
Motor Generator 2 (MG2) – Function Drives front wheels, regeneration during braking
– Type Permanent magnet motor
– Max. voltage AC 650V
– Max. output 141 hp (105 kW)
Motor Generator Rear (MGR) – Function Drives rear wheels, regeneration during braking
– Max voltage/output AC 650V 67 hp (50kW)

Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Motor: 105kW/4,500 rpm / 199 lb.-ft. torque @ 0-1,500 rpm. Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack – 244.8 V Nominal Voltage (204 cells @1.2 V) – 6.5 ampere hour / 650 volts maximum.

Drivetrain (Layout): Front engine, all-wheel drive
Horsepower: 150 hp @ 5,700 RPM
Torque: 152 lb-ft @ 4,400 RPM
Transmission:

 

Electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Suspension: Front: Independent MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar and hydraulic shock absorbers

Rear: Double-wishbone style multi-link rear suspension with coil springs, trailing arms, stabilizer bar, and hydraulic shock absorbers.

 

Brakes:

 

Power-assisted electronically controlled four-wheel disc brake system (vented front), with ABS, BA and integrated regenerative brake system.
Tires: Bridgestone Ecopia H/L 422 Plus 235/55 R18 100H
Fuel capacity:191.5 14.8 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 34 City/30 Highway/32 Combined

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 104.7 114.2 inches
Length: 183.5 inches
Width: 72.6 inches
Height: 67.5 inches
Turning Circle: 34.8 ft.
Curb Weight: 3,950 pounds
Arv Voss
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring journalist and member and past officer of several noted automotive journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.