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

    2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SE
    [Photo: Arv Voss]


    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]


    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.

    [Photo: Arv Voss]


    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.

    [Photo: Arv Voss]


    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:


    Price as Tested:
    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


    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.




    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


    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
    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.

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

    1. @Jason, thanks for the heads up. We had similar problems with a 2011 Camry and 2012 Accord. Seems that when auto makers went to weight savings to help meet fuel economy standards they took a lot out of the interiors. We switched to Mazda sedans after 2012. We have several friends who also complain about their 2012-2014 Camry’s. We recently test drove a 2017 Hylander, 4-Runner, Sienna and Sequioa and they were all comfortable. On paper I like the new Rav4 Hybrid. I am 45 mins from the Toyota dealer, so I will definitely take an extended test drive.

      1. That makes sense, we had an 09 Camry SE and the seat in it was literally twice as thick and very comfortable. We recently attended a car show and just about every sedan and small SUV we sat in had the equivalent of padded folding chairs for seats. One exception was a Nissan Pathfinder, very comfortable and tomb like quietness.

        1. My Mom chose the 2010 Nissan Altima over the Honda and Toyota based on interior comfort. That car went to my niece and since then they have had 2 AWD Mitsubishi Outlanders. They were my Dads pick for comfort over the Rav4, Equinox, and Escape.

    2. My wife has a 2014 Rav4 Limited and I can honestly say that it is the most uncomfortable vehicle I have ever driven. If we have an 8 hour trip I’ll spend 7 hours of it trying to find a comfortable seat position. It has been very reliable so far with almost 50K on it, no issues. This is our 5th Toyota vehicle and reliability has been exceptional with all of them. Don’t know if they have made improvements with seating positions on newer models but I highly recommend that potential buyers take an extended test drive, something we wish we would have done.

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