Plug-in power for

Toyota RAV4

Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, side
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, front, action
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, front
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, rear
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, interior
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, boot
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, engine
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, charging point
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, display screen
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, 2021, badge

IT seems incredible that Toyota's RAV4 has been on these shores since 1994 but the latest, sixth generation of the SUV bears practically little comparison to the popular original edition that saw over 40,000 sold.

That was a three-door version, fairly frugally equipped and powered by a four cylinder 2.0-litre, 129bhp engine capable of 108mph with a five-speed manual gearbox and full-time 4WD sitting on 16-inch wheels.

Naturally the game has changed considerably over the intervening years and this latest all-wheel-drive RAV4 has all-new plug-in technology on board giving hybrid power and levels of luxury and comfort never even thought about with the original version.

Clearly aimed principally at the fleet/company car market this RAV4 has been improved in many ways including a better and bigger 18.1kWh battery increasing electric power to the front motor from an output of 88kWH to 134kWh with an extra 40kWh from a back motor.

Supported by a four-cylinder 2,487cc petrol engine the total system output has gone up by 82bhp from 219bhp to 302bhp and the proof is in the pudding is a much easier and more responsive to drive, both in town traffic and out on the motorway.

Top speed is a claimed 112mph and there's brisk acceleration at six seconds 0 to 60.

Thanks to increased body insulation including the use of acoustic glass it's all round much quieter too making it an extremely refined, quieter and far better, from both a driver's view and passengers, out on the road.

It's also cleaner with just 22g/km of CO2 emissions compared to 122g/km from the regular hybrid model and the plug-in is far more economical with much better fuel consumption of 282mpg officially compared to 47.9mpg.

All this will benefit company car drivers in particular with a benefit-in-kind of just six per cent, no car tax for the first year and it sits in insurance group 34.

This new RAV4 has four plug-in operating modes - EV, auto EV/HV, HV and charging mode - along with three driving modes of Eco, Normal and Power and it means the car has a 46 mile zero emission driving range and will do up to 84mph all on electric only power.

Add in petrol power and Toyota's engineers claim it will accelerate from 0 to 62mph in eight seconds and have an overall top speed of 112mph.

The automatic switch from electric power into petrol engine and back again is seamless and much quicker and more refined than in the previous model and overall this RAV4 is now more responsive and enjoyable to drive, certainly compared to its two immediate rivals like the Ford Kuga and Peugeot 3008.

There are just two versions being offered - the Hybrid Dynamic at £47,395 and the Hybrid Dynamic Premium at £50,895 - and while that might seem dear to some the RAV4 plug-in is an up-market and exceptionally well equipped SUV and good value for the money.

Both trim levels have loads of standard safety kit such as blind spot monitoring, hill-start assist, auto headlight levelling and Toyota's safety sense package that features day and night time pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control and much more.

As for comfort and convenience for the driver there's an easy to use nine-inch touchscreen with smartphone integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, reversing camera, seven-inch TFT multi-information display heated front and rear leather seats - fully electrical adjustment for the driver - front and rear parking sensors and loads of interior storage space.

There's also a head-up display for the driver revealing the car's speed and other driving information. It's a great safety aid but is available only on the more expensive version.

The interior itself though appears to have more space and this new RAV4, which sits on 19-inch alloy wheels, has had a few, subtle design changes.

These include such as a dark grille mesh and frame at the front and dark-plating under-run at the rear.

Overall the changes underneath to this newcomer are really welcomed - particularly the increased hybrid aspects - and make it an even more formidable competitor in the quality SUV sector.

The first of the new RAV4s, which are made in Japan, will arrive in May and Toyota expect to sell around 700 in the UK this year rising to 3,700 by next year.

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