Sunday 11 December 2016

Mid-life boost for RAV4

Model could be a slow burner here but Toyota says 50pc of global sales by 2020 will be hybrid

Martin Brennan

Published 31/01/2016 | 02:30

Spacious: The new Toyota Rav4 has all-wheel-drive and adaptive cruise control among other new features such as the pedestrian safety system. Hybrid prices start at e37,950
Spacious: The new Toyota Rav4 has all-wheel-drive and adaptive cruise control among other new features such as the pedestrian safety system. Hybrid prices start at e37,950

Toyota is adding hybrid power to the RAV4 - but with heavy price increases over the diesel line-up it is not surprising that the oil burner will be the top-seller.

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With 2,200 sales predicted for this year only a handful, about 250, of buyers are expected to go down the hybrid route, although Toyota has been the long-term leader in this technology. However, Toyota is committed to the hybrid and says that globally, 50pc of sales will be hybrid by 2020.

The mid-size SUV has been around for 22 years and has sold over 6.5m units. The new power option comes as it gets a mid-life boost with all-wheel-drive (AWD) and a more spacious interior. There are also exterior improvements to lights and bumpers and more stylish exterior lines. Sticking to a successful formula seems to be the approach taken, with comfort and utility taking priority. Adaptive cruise control and a pedestrian safety system add to the easy driving features that are some of the hallmarks of the RAV4.

Soft suspension settings lead to some body roll and under-steer and there are more exciting rivals in this department, but RAV4 can fall back on its sensible and reliable credentials.

Passengers will enjoy a quiet cabin interior and good support seats. The hybrid version comes with CVT automatic transmission which works best with a light foot pressure on the accelerator. It has been improved but still falls behind European style double clutch gear boxes.

The RAV4 gets a new BMW-sourced 2-litre D-4D diesel engine with 123g/km CO2 emissions and a new 2.5 petrol for the hybrid version with emissions from 115g/km CO2. The diesel, which now comes with front-wheel-drive, puts out 143bhp compared to the hybrid's petrol and electric motor combined 197bhp, but gives a better fuel consumption return when compared to the hybrid - 4.7L/100km (60mpg) to 5L/100km (56mpg). It also has a better towing capacity - 2000kg compared to 1640kg for the AWD version of the hybrid.

The diesel option makes better sense as it also has a higher top speed and only marginally higher CO2 emissions when prices are compared. The mid-range Luna version will be the best-seller with the diesel version coming in at €31,700 compared to the €37,950 for the Hybrid FWD. Specifications vary but it is a big step. The AWD Hybrid, which uses a second rear-mounted electric motor to power the rear wheels, comes in at €40,250 in Luna specification, adding an extra €2,200 to the price.

Prices start at €29,950 for the entry level Aura FWD 2-litre diesel option. There is no Aura version in the Hybrid line-up - with the cheapest Hybrid Luna model priced at €37,950, which is €8,000 more - a price too far even for all but the most fervent green-minded drivers - and is €6,250 more than the equivalent Luna diesel version.

The highest price in the range is the top-specification Sol Hybrid AWD at €43,800. The price jump from Luna diesel at €31,700 to Luna AWD at €40,250 is €8,550 so most will opt for the diesel power.

However, Toyota still offers a three-year warranty compared to the five-year warranty from Hyundai, seven from Kia and a total of eight from Mitsubishi.

A haughty response to questions was: "We do not do stunt warranty. We do not have to prove reliability".

Sunday Independent

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