Toyota RAV4 Gets Hybrid Variant, Facelift for 2016
Sport-Tuned SE Trim Also Revealed
Toyota showed the restyled 2016 RAV4 at the 2015 New York International Auto Show yesterday, with new trim levels and powertrains accompanying the updated appearance.
The biggest technical change to the RAV4 is its available hybrid powertrain, Toyota’s eighth such model. Using a 2.5L I-4 gas engine mated to a Hybrid Synergy Drive system, the company claims the RAV4 Hybrid offers better performance and increased fuel efficiency over the standard RAV4. It’s not clear whether the 2.5L engine is donated from the standard RAV4, where it makes 176 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque, or if the motor is the Atkinson-cycle I-4 used in the Camry Hybrid, which makes 156 hp on its own. We’d guess it would be the latter, and we’d also bet the RAV4 Hybrid would make the same 200 combined horsepower as the Camry Hybrid. If that’s the case, the RAV4 should be EPA-rated at about 37 combined mpg.
Toyota will be marketing the RAV4 Hybrid to “young, adventure-seeking couples,” suggesting the company wants to abandon some of its mature image. Billed as a no-compromise vehicle, the Hybrid will only be offered with all-wheel drive as an XLE or a Limited. Expect lots of standard equipment for the Hybrid, including leather seating, premium sound systems, a moonroof, and navigation. It’s also probably fair to expect a somewhat high price, as the hybrid system will probably tack on a few grand to the RAV4’s price. We’d guess the RAV4 XLE Hybrid will start at around $31,000, with the Limited running closer to $35,000.
Elsewhere in the RAV4’s lineup is the new-for-2016 SE trim level. As with other Toyota vehicles, the SE serves a little measure of on-road sportiness to the RAV4, featuring 18-inch alloy wheels, paddle shifters, a sport-tuned suspension, and performance-oriented styling cues like ground-effects bumpers and contrast-stitched interior upholstery. Offered only with the RAV4’s standard powertrain, the SE isn’t likely to set anyone’s hair on fire, but it should provide teenage drivers, young families, and sensible accountants with a little dose of fun in a reasonably attractive package. Interestingly, Toyota will offer the RAV4 SE with “S-Code” paint, consisting of one of three hues for the upper exterior (Super White, Black Sand Pearl, or Electric Storm Blue) paired with Classic Silver Metallic lower body trim.
All 2016 RAV4s get updated styling, including available LED head- and taillights, new front and rear bumpers, a new tailgate design, and a different grille. New wheels and color choices (along with a standard shark-fin antenna!) round out the exterior changes. Inside, cabin materials have been revised for a more premium feel, and a leather steering wheel comes standard on all models but the base RAV4 LE. Soft-touch plastics now adorn the door panels and lower dash. Broader standard and optional equipment for all models help the strong-selling CUV maintain its value proposition against its foes at Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, and Ford.
The updated styling does a bit to help the 2016 RAV4 stand out from the crowd. However, this is the same basic SUV that customers have known and loved since its debut for the 2013 model year. The extra power and efficiency of the Hybrid model should help the compact SUV broaden its appeal to (more affluent) buyers, while the sporty-looking SE will probably woo a few stylish-yet-pragmatic customers. Combined with Toyota’s near-sterling reputation for dependability, the 2016 RAV4 should have no trouble continuing its bestselling streak.