2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.2

The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid only has one powertrain option. It has ample power for daily driving, and it gets the outstanding fuel economy you want from a hybrid vehicle. The ride is generally smooth and handling is poised, but several competitors are more nimble.

  • "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 (2017)
  • 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 RAV4 Hybrid features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors that combine to produce 194 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission (CVT), which functions like an automatic transmission, is standard. 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.

As you might expect, fuel economy is a primary selling point for the RAV4 Hybrid. It gets an EPA-estimated 34 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Those are elite ratings for a compact SUV, especially one that has all-wheel drive. Still, some competitors, even some nonhybrids, don’t trail the RAV4’s ratings by very much.

  • "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 (2017)
  • 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 (2017)
  • Yes, there's more horsepower …, and there's more torque … . 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

While most other compact SUVs come with front-wheel drive, the RAV4 Hybrid comes standard with all-wheel drive (AWD), which provides plenty of road grip and contributes to the RAV4 Hybrid’s stable handling. This Toyota can’t match the athleticism of rivals like the Mazda CX-5, but it has a smoother ride than some of those sport-tuned competitors do. Note that ride quality drops off a bit if you opt for a trim with 18-inch wheels.

  • "… 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 (2017)
  • "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 (2017)
  • The steering is ultra-light and numb, but makes the car go generally in the direction you point it." -- Autoweek (2017)

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