2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Written by Anqoinette Crosby

A busy mom on the go, one of my girlfriends recently lamented the need to trade-in her cramped two-door luxury coupe. Her hectic schedule now required a more versatile vehicle for carting her kids to school, hauling her pair of boxers to the dog park and commuting to work. A smart and sophisticated woman, she was looking for something stylish, functional, economical, environmentally friendly, and most importantly safe.

 

In other words, she needed the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

 

And I told her so.

Having spent some time in one, I suggested she put the hybrid compact crossover on her short list. I knew the standard all-wheel drive would give her more traction on wet pavement during a rainstorm. I was also impressed with its treasure trove of safety features and easy handling. Driving the compact crossover gave me the feeling I was in total control. Turning corners—whether sharp or wide-- was a breeze.

 

Power comes from a 2.5-liter gasoline-fired engine mated to a pair of electric motors. A continuously variable transmission conducts seamless shifting, while facilitating 34 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway. Thanks to those electric motors, the RAV4 Hybrid also feels quicker than its gasoline sibling when called upon to perform briskly.

What’s more, the kid-friendly RAV4 Hybrid seats five with ample room to fit two child car seats in the second row, making it an ideal vehicle for families with young children. However, the rear seats are not so stellar if you’re taller than 6 feet. Older kids, especually taller ones will be a bit cramped.

On the other hand, the second row seats do recline to offer a more comfortable back seat experience. The seatbacks can be configured into a 60/40 split to maximize the cargo area, though they don’t lay completely flat.  Unlike most hybrids, the battery pack is barely evident. As a result, the RAV4 Hybrid provides 35.6 cubic feet of rcarryiing capacity, which more than doubles to 78.6 with the rear seats folded down.

The XLE model I tested comes standard with an impressive roster of features. My faves include a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, fog lights, dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, heated mirrors, push-button start, satellite radio and an Entune Plus audio system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen. I knew my girlfiriend would appreciate the  height-adjustable driver’s seat too.

For the 2017 model year, Toyota's Safety Sense system was also offered as standard standard on the RAV4 Hybrid.I know it would help her feel more secure toting her tykes, regardless of driving conditions. The package includes pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection,  automatic high beams, lane departure alert and lane keep assist. These are particularly noteworthy inclusions as the RAV4’s competitors in the class charge extra for these features.

Another kid-friendly feature is functional nature of the RAV4’s passenger accommodations. While those focused on aesthetics might be concerned about the abundance of plastic, it does make cleaning up after kids much easier. One also needn’t worry about standing out too much in the pick-up line at school. The mainstream styling of the Toyota fits right in—even if it does reminds me of a sneaker that’s turned up at the toe when viewed in profile.

 

All in all, as family transportation, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is tough to beat.

 

Pricing starts at $27,235.

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