Toyota surprised some today by announcing that the RAV4 hybrid will be Toyota’s newest green vehicle. The 2WD version of the RAV4 hybrid will most likely earn a 35 MPG city rating from the EPA, 31 and 33 MPG combined rating. It will be interesting to see how the highway rating comes out. The All-wheel drive RAV4 will earn 1 MPG less in combined driving. The RAV4 hybrid will use regular unleaded fuel which makes a big difference in fuel economy. We base these estimates on the other hybrid the company already builds in this size, the Lexus NX300h hybrid. That vehicle launched one year ago and has been on sale since about November 2014.
Prices for the RAV4 hybrid have not been announced. However, based on the prices of the existing RAV4 and Lexus NX300h, we would peg the starting price around $27K. A RAV4 hybrid with every luxury option from Toyota will top out near $33K.
Using the proven four-cylinder, Atkinson-Cycle Hybrid Synergy Drive drivetrain that is now tried and true in Toyota’s Camry and in the Lexus ES and NX hybrids, the new RAV4’s performance is easy to predict. With about 200 horsepower, it will be a step up in performance over the base RAV4. It will also be more powerful than pretty much all its main competitors, such as the Honda CRV and Subaru Outback which generally have horsepower numbers around 180 to 185. Other vehicles like the Ford Escape can have much more power but won’t compete on fuel economy. Ford quit on its Escape hybrid after the last generation of that vehicle.
Unlike many other automakers, Toyota and Lexus build greener version of most of their popular models – and they actually sell. Cars like the Avalon Hybrid make up about one-quarter of the model’s sales. The popular Prius still outsells the entire battery-electric vehicle market in the US and has saved more gasoline than any other nameplate. The Prius also outsells some entire car brands in the US market. A likely sale goal for Toyota’s new RAV4 hybrid would be 1,500 to 3,000 units per month after production has ramped up.
Once the RAV4 hybrid is launched Toyota will have a green vehicle offering for every class of vehicle it sells except its minivan and its two truck models.