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2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 7.2

Engine power in the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is decent for daily commuting in the city or on the highway, but acceleration isn't particularly speedy. The engine can also be pretty loud. The RAV4 Hybrid earns some of the highest fuel economy estimates in the class. When it comes to handling, the RAV4 Hybrid corners stably. Its steering is somewhat dull, but relatively accurate overall. Ride quality is smooth and comfortable.

  • "In the grand scheme of things, Toyota could say the RAV4 Hybrid is one of the most inoffensive cars on the road, but it also might fall into the bucket as one of the most uninspiring. And that's fine. Not everything needs to get your blood boiling -- some cars are just around to help you get from point A to point B, using as little fuel as possible while looking all right." -- Autoweek
  • The 2015 gas-powered RAV4 was described as 'competent' in our recent $28,000 Compact SUV Challenge, and that's a good way to describe the overall driving experience of the hybrid version." -- Cars.com (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors that together produce 194 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission (CVT), which functions like an automatic, is standard.

Fuel economy is rated at 34 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA. The RAV4 Hybrid's estimates surpass those of nearly every rival, which is impressive considering it comes standard with all-wheel drive. Still, some competing SUVs get a few more miles to the gallon on the highway.

The RAV4 Hybrid's powertrain has decent acceleration for everyday driving, and it feels a bit faster than the nonhybrid RAV4. Still, the four-cylinder engine and CVT can be noisy.

  • "The RAV4 Hybrid AWD uses the 2.5-liter gas engine paired with two electric motors (one up front and the other at the rear wheels) plus a CVT transmission, making it a bit quicker than its gasoline counterpart." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • The little four-cylinder already sounds buzzy, and the CVT doesn't help things much. When you need to floor it, it just seems to peg at max revs while the speed just climbs. I only really noticed it on harder takeoffs and passing maneuvers." -- Autoweek
  • Yes, there's more horsepower (194 horsepower versus 176 in the gas-powered version), and there's more torque (206 pounds-feet compared with 172 in the gas-powered models). But owing to the hybrid's extra weight of about 320 pounds, the RAV4 Hybrid isn't transformed into a rocket ship. It does feel quicker than the gas-powered version, but only slightly." -- Cars.com (2016)

Handling and Braking

The 2017 RAV4 Hybrid's handling is secure, so you'll feel confident when turning a corner. Further, it rides more comfortably than sportier compact SUVs like the Mazda CX-5 and Kia Sportage. In upper trims with 18-inch wheels, however, the RAV4 Hybrid's ride is more jarring over rough surfaces. Steering is predictable but feels dull and light, which shouldn’t be a big deal for the average driver.

The 2017 RAV4 Hybrid comes standard with all-wheel drive. That's rare for the class. The only other compact SUV with standard all-wheel drive is the Subaru Forester.

  • "… its ride is smooth and controlled without being overly soft or floating. We prefer it to the stiff ride found with the Mazda CX-5 and Kia Sportage." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The ride also draws praise for its smooth, compliant feel, though the 18-inch tires do transmit more road imperfections than the 17-inchers. At the same time, the well-tuned suspension keeps the RAV4 composed through turns, so this crossover feels reassuring even when you're beyond the city limits." -- Edmunds
  • The steering is ultra-light and numb, but makes the car go generally in the direction you point it." -- Autoweek

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