2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: A breath of fresh, uncomplicated, enjoyable driving

16 Jun 2016 | 298 views | No Comment
By Don Hammonds We are "ravin' about the 2016 Toyota RAV4 around here these days--especially the RAV4 hybrid with its combination of economy, looks, class,  and one of the best interiors in the small sport utility field. 2016_Toyota_RAV4_Limited_Hybrid_03_E507AD6FFFEAA3B577176143774A1CFC3B160CCA But some of the reasons we like it a lot are strictly psychic.  We think it is such a relief to get into a car where we don't have to guess where anything is located. That is so not happening these days with so many products. Yet the RAV4 holds its grounds and doesn't worry about anything else but being pleasant to drive, enough stylishness to please the eye, and plenty of features that spell value--as usual--for Toyota buyers. Overall, the RAV4 felt like a pair of comfortable house slippers--warm, familiar, and comfortable--and quite dependable to boot. It's a pretty SUV--especially in the blue shade shown above. The handling is so predictable and you don't get the sometimes all too noticeable lean and the bouncy feeling you get when you drive the RAV4. The fuel economy with the Hybrid is pretty good. and driving comfort is considerable. The RAV4 is available in LE, XLE, Se, Limited, Hybrid XLE, and Hybrid Limited versions. Price range is $24,350 to $33,610. You can get front wheel drive or all wheel river versions. Our example was a RAV4 hybrid with Toyota's Synergy Drive System that when putting all its various electric and non electric components together, puts out 194 horsepower in its 2.5 liter DOHC four cylinder engine. The system has EV, Eco and Sport modes, allowing for a bit of personality to come through, depending on which ever mode you select. Base price on our XLE Hybrid tester was $28,370 with standard features like the Star Safety System,. comprised of enhanced vehicle stability control. traction control ant-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and smart stop technology. Other standard features include alloy wheels, height adjustable power lift gate, power moonroof, roof rails, and rear spoiler, privacy glass, rear sides, quarter and lift gate. Options for the interior include dual zone climate control with air filter; Entune Audio Plus, 8.1 inch touchscreen, Sirius radio, Smart Key system, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls, backup camera, reclining and fold-flat 2nd Row Seats, Pushbutton Start, power outlets and some other standard goodies as well. Our RAV4 Hybrid is rated at 34 city, 31 highway and 33 overall miles per gallon, using a miserly three gallons to travel 100 miles .  The RAV4 uses 3.0 gallons for 100 miles traveled, and you can save $2,250 in fuel over five years compared to the average new vehicle. Annual fuel cost is $1,350 a year based on 15,000 miles of driving. If you have drooled over pictures of luxury car interiors in glossy magazines, I'm sure you will instantly recognized the luscious looking rolls of leather (or some darned good looking vinyl!) over the RAV4 Limited's dashboard. That's what we loved . It's expensive looking very pleasing to the touch, and gave an understated classy look to our RAV4. Plenty of room, too. World War Three did not break out in our tester as it usually does in other vehicles we've driven. That's because of the roomy rear seat and each combatant--er--child--had enough breathing space without touching. The only complaint that some consumers may have is that there is only one choice if you want gasoline power; a 2.5 liter, 194 horsepower four. That frankly sounds like plenty to me, but I will have to try the gas version out for myself. On the other hand I can tell you that the 2.5 liter hybrid powered version we tested did just fine thanks on the road--it zipped and zoomed with no problems at all, and to be honest with you, I have no idea why anyone would want more power. Sure there are sharper CUVs on the road like Mazda's CX-3 nd CX-5. Sure there are faster ones, too. Head to BMW  or Audi for one of those--and pay an arm and a leg. But the RAV4 has a gob of virtues that outweigh all that other stuff.  And it will be only a matter of a day or two of driving and it will become a much loved member of your family--safe, comfortable, dependable and yes--easy on the eyes, too.    

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