Toyota has just introduced their new RAV4 model range and this mid-generation model range stands out because it marks the introduction of the first hybrid compact SUV to the already highly competitive Irish C-SUV segment.
The segment accounted for 10,934 units in the pre-crash year of 2008, dropping to just 3,890 units in 2009, but it has grown steadily through the hard times and this accelerated from in 2014 and last year to a high of 19,486 units for 2015. And today there are close to 20 models to choose from in this segment.
The new RAV4 will be offered in a choice of four specification levels. The entry level ‘Aura’, the big selling ‘Luna’, and the newly introduced ‘Luna Sport’. That leaves the top of the line ‘Sol’ version. Prices for the new RAV4 range start at €29,950 for the front-wheel drive (FWD ) Aura 2.0 litre Diesel. The Luna spec version raises that to €31,700 which compares to the new 2.5 litre Hybrid (entry-level ) FWD Luna at €37,950. That rises to €40,250 for the four-wheel drive (4WD ) Luna Hybrid version.
Toyota describe it as the perfect response to the demands of a more mature and sophisticated C-SUV market. However, with a price premium of about €6,250 for the new RAV4 Hybrid in the bigger selling ‘Luna’ grade over a new diesel engined version, it might prove a harder sell than in some tax friendlier other European markets.
In fairness, you also get sequential Shiftmatic (automatic ) transmission as standard on the new 2.5 litre petrol Hybrid, as well as ‘Smart Entry’, a power back door, and LED headlamps included over an above the spec on the diesel. However diesel is significantly less expensive than than petrol and the new diesel engine in the RAV4 has a slight economy advantage over the hybrid version according to quoted figures.
With regards to pedigree in both these areas, Toyota has unparalleled experience gained through over 20 years of innovative in full hybrid powertrain technology, and a similar time developing compact SUVs, so the first such combination deserves our attention.
Its full hybrid drive system combines a 2.5 litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine with a powerful electric motor, with the new RAV4 Hybrid also available in both front- and all-wheel drive variants. A second, rear mounted electric motor equips the RAV4 Hybrid AWD with e-Four electronic all-wheel drive, offering increased traction and a 1,650 kg towing capacity without the added complexity of a central prop shaft.
The new RAV4’s full hybrid powertrain heads up a revised, fully Euro 6 compliant engine line-up for the full updated 2016 model range. An all-new, front-wheel drive, 2.0 litre turbodiesel (supplied by the BMW Group ) with manual transmission develops 105 kW/143 hp and a substantial 320 Nm of torque. It promises fuel economy of just a shade over 60 mpg in ideal driving circumstances.