At the upcoming Los Angeles Motor Show, on November 20th, Toyota will (finally) be unveiling the much awaited plug-in hybrid version of their popular RAV4 compact SUV. Teased here as a 2021 model, the company hints that a launch will likely occur toward the second half of next year.
Aside from its new and more efficient electrified powertrain, Toyota are touting this RAV4 as the most powerful that has ever been thanks its electric motor assist. Of course, they remain tight-lipped on exactly how much performance or pulling power we can expect, but the PHEV version previewed here certainly isn’t trying very hard to shout about its extra oomph.
We still find the familiar angular ruggedised design as seen in other variants, down to its floating roofline courtesy of a two-tone body finish, a bold fascia with nearly flat bonnet, and squared off wheel arches. Supposedly, the only true identifier currently visible are the ‘Plug-in Hybrid’ emblem on its front fenders.
Despite its focus on fuel efficiency and technology, Toyota characterises the RAV4 Hybrid as having “spirited acceleration” and “nimble handling”, all very encouraging if anyone was afraid of the RAV4 losing some of its personality in the pursuit of eco dreams.
Many have pegged the SUV as borrowing much of its powertrain tech from the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, also knows as the Prius Prime in North America. Should that be the case, a pair of electric motors will be augmenting a naturally aspirated 1.8-litre four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle petrol, storing charge in a rather modest 8.8kWh battery.
That being said, the larger RAV4 might call for a pack twice in size and capacity to give it a respectable 50km or so of pure electric range and to adequately supply a more powerful motor. By that same token, the larger and punchier 2.5-litre A25A engine could also be called into action over the 1.8-litre unit and would likely make for a more rounded pairing.
Those aforementioned electric motors will likely drive the rear wheels exclusively with the four pot combustion engine and e-CVT transmission concerned with the front, giving the RAV4 an unconventional all-wheel drive system.
Toyota hybrids have never been known nor touted as having any performance advantages over its non-electrified counterparts, an approach counter to that taken by vehicles using Volvo’s Twin Engine and Peugeot’s Hybrid4 tech, so it will be interesting to see how the Japanese automaker switches up this strategy.