Toyota brings together its decades of hybrid-powertrain dominance and its top-selling SUV to form the 2020 RAV4 Hybrid. This electrified version of the RAV4 offers the same practical and spacious cabin as the regular model as well as low-cost value trims and high-end near-luxury models—although the hybrid tech does add a price premium. Hybrid powertrains are only now picking up steam in the compact-SUV class, with the RAV4 leading the way alongside hybridized versions of the Honda CR-V, the Ford Escape, and the Mitsubishi Outlander. Toyota’s styling may not be for everyone, and other compact SUVs offer more driving enjoyment, but the RAV4 Hybrid does outpunch its nonhybrid counterpart in fuel economy.
What’s New for 2020?
Not much has changed for 2020, unsurprising since the RAV4 Hybrid was new for 2019. The mid-range XLE model now comes with a powered driver’s seat, and heated front seats have moved to the Weather package from the Convenience package. Android Auto joins the list of standard features alongside SiriusXM satellite radio. A plug-in hybrid model is joining the lineup, but not until the 2021 model year.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- LE Hybrid: $29,470
- XLE Hybrid: $30,765
- XSE Hybrid: $35,420
- Limited Hybrid: $38,000
The XLE Hybrid is likely the value winner in this lineup as it offers more standard equipment than the base LE without suffering much of an uptick in price. Buyers of the XLE will enjoy conveniences such as passive keyless entry, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, LED projector headlamps with automatic high-beams, heated exterior mirrors, blind-spot monitoring, and front fog lamps.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The RAV4 Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that’s assisted by two electric motors for a combined output of 219 horsepower. All-wheel drive is standard—one of the electric motors powers the rear wheels and the second motor and the gasoline engine drive the fronts—as is a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Not only is the RAV4 Hybrid more efficient than the unelectrified model, it’s also quicker. It snapped off a 7.4-second 60-mph time in our hands while the gas-only model needed 8.0 seconds to perform the same task. Drivers will feel that pep, too, particularly around town, where the electric motor’s gratifyingly immediate power delivery gives it an extra shove when taking off from a stop. Like the standard RAV4, the hybrid model’s handling is competent and its ride is comfortable, but don’t expect any cornering heroics here.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
When compared with a gas-powered all-wheel-drive RAV4, the hybrid model is far more efficient. The EPA estimates it’ll achieve 41 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 40 mpg combined, beating the regular RAV4 by 14 mpg, 5 mpg, and 11 mpg, respectively. When we tested the RAV4 Hybrid on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy route, it delivered 37 mpg, 1 mpg less than its EPA rating.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The RAV4 Hybrid’s cabin is well built and nicely outfitted but prioritizes practicality over style. With a plethora of cubbies and bins to choose from, you’ll have ample space to stash small cargo, and all of the buttons and controls are easy to find and operate. Toyota throws in plenty of niceties at the base level, such as dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, and a height-adjustable false floor in the cargo area. Going up the trim-level ladder brings luxury features such as heated front and rear seats, ambient interior lighting, and upgraded faux-leather upholstery that Toyota calls SofTex. The RAV4 Hybrid offers identical cargo and passenger space as the regular RAV4, and in our testing, we managed to fit 10 carry-on suitcases behind the second row and 22 with the rear seat folded.
Infotainment and Connectivity
LE and XLE models come with a 7.0-inch infotainment display sprouting from its dashboard while XSE and Limited models provide an 8.0-inch screen. The larger display can be had on the XLE model as part of the Audio Plus package. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as well as an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot are all standard. Navigation and an 11-speaker JBL stereo system are available on the XSE and standard on the Limited. Otherwise, you’ll get a six-speaker system.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have given the RAV4 good marks for crashworthiness. The IIHS even named it a Top Safety Pick for 2020. Toyota has been an aggressive adopter of driver-assistance features and offers many of them standard across the RAV4 lineup. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
All RAV4s come with a comprehensive warranty that matches those provided by rivals Honda and Nissan, but electrified models come with a lengthy protection plan for their hybrid components. Far from the norm, Toyota’s complimentary scheduled maintenance policy stretches for two years or 25,000 miles.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Hybrid-component warranty covers eight years or 100,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for two years or 25,000 miles