Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Excel

Toyota RAV4, 2016, front, water
Toyota RAV4, 2016, side
Toyota RAV4, 2016, front
Toyota RAV4, 2016, side, static
Toyota RAV4, 2016, interior
Toyota RAV4, 2016, rear
Toyota RAV4, 2016, display screen
Toyota RAV4, 2016, boot
Toyota RAV4, 2016, seats

THE RAV4 Hybrid is a double act that is guaranteed to make you smile.

Toyota's popular compact SUV seems to have been around forever and boasts global sales of six million since launch in 1994.

The company's hybrid technology began life in 1997 on the Prius with the latest incarnation now a feature on models including the Yaris supermini and Auris hatchback.

More than eight million Toyota hybrids have been sold worldwide with in excess of a million in Europe alone.

So the decision make a RAV4 Hybrid for 2016 is an obvious one, combining as it does two of the hottest sectors of the market in one vehicle with rugged good looks, comfort and practicality married to environmentally friendly, fuel-saving technology.

On the automatic electronic four-wheel drive model I tried - a front-wheel drive version is also available - you get the combination of a 2.5-litre petrol engine mated with two efficient electric motors powering a robust package.

The result is a motor offering a muscular stance and a great driving position as well frugal use of fuel and low carbon dioxide emissions.

For those who like a bit of peace and quiet it is paradise, as when traffic necessitates a crawl through the urban jungle the silent electric motors provide power.

The engine only cuts in when acceleration is required, your speed increases, or the batteries need charging.

Even with the petrol power unit engaged this RAV4 is still a refined beast with good levels of sound-proofing keeping the outside world at bay.

The CVT automatic gearbox is reasonably smooth while power is harvested for the batteries when you brake.

The drive is relaxing, helped by a comfortable ride and accurate handling with light steering and good levels of grip.

Body roll is also well contained in corners and there is plenty of oomph beneath your right foot with a combined 194bhp powering the RAV4 from 0-62mph in a shade over eight seconds.

It looks the part with stylish alloy wheels, natty headlights and a smart badge at the front.

The rear is home to a top-hinged tailgate which opens electronically off the key fob - patience is needed as it isn't the quickest - to reveal an impressive amount of boot space with 501 litres easily able to swallow golf clubs, trolley and assorted paraphernalia as well as offering a storage area under the floor. This expands to 1,633 litres when the quick-folding rear seats drop flat.

The modern cabin copes with five adults admirably with plenty of head, leg and shoulder room for the three sitting in the rear while the powered seats up front are easily adjusted.

A decent-sized glove box, central bin and lots of cubby holes offer plenty of storage for a family's bits and bobs while good-sized cup holders are also provided.

Everything feels solidly put together and there are lots of toys to play with. All versions get air conditioning, the Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system with touchscreen, cruise control, six-speaker audio system with DAB radio, a reversing camera, leather steering wheel cover and tinted windows.

When you reach the heady heights of the Excel trim, Toyota includes trinkets such as smart entry and push button ignition, leather seats and parking sensors, as well as roof rails, automatic lights and wipers plus dual-zone climate control.

FAST FACTS

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Excel

Price:£31,490

Mechanical:150bhp, 2,494cc, 4cyl petrol engine and electric motors driving four wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed:112mph

0-62mph:8.4 seconds

Combined MPG:55.4

Insurance Group:29

C02 emissions:118g/km

Bik rating:18%

Warranty:5yrs/100,000 miles

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