Full 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV carries over unchanged, although the gas-powered RAV4 lineup is all-new for 2013.
Timing can be everything in the automotive world, and the all-electric 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV got its party started a little early. The gasoline-powered RAV4, you see, has been completely redesigned for 2013. But Toyota started developing the RAV4 EV when the previous-generation RAV4 was still around. Accordingly, the EV soldiers on for 2013 as a carryover model, a zombie RAV4 that lacks the new crossover's myriad improvements. Oh, but what a zombie it is.
Let's run down the RAV4 EV's impressive resumé. Cargo capacity? Check. Despite its large battery pack, the RAV4 EV can still haul 73 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. Acceleration? Check. In fact, with the demise of the RAV4 V6, the RAV4 EV is now the quickest model in the lineup. And although the electrified RAV4's 103-mile driving range may seem paltry by conventional standards, it's actually better than that of every other 2013 electric vehicle, except the superhero (and super expensive) Tesla Model S.
Throw in the expected array of spaceship-spec cabin technology, and you've got an unusually well-rounded electric vehicle. Indeed, aside from the RAV4 EV's previous-generation architecture, there are only two issues we want to flag. First, you'll need to be a California resident to buy a RAV4 EV, because Toyota's not selling it anywhere else. Second, you'll need to bring upwards of $40,000 to buy a new RAV4 EV, even after government incentives and tax breaks. But if you've got those bases covered, we encourage you to give the 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV a close look. As zombies go, it's quite endearing.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV is a five-passenger crossover SUV offered in a single well-equipped trim level.
Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, LED exterior lighting accents, a unique grille, aerodynamic mirror housings, an elongated rear spoiler, keyless entry/ignition, exclusive cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, cruise control, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control and an EV-specific instrument cluster with a 3.5-inch information display.
Also standard are Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, an 8-inch touchscreen display, a navigation system, Toyota's Entune smartphone app integration and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface. EV-specific smartphone functionality, including charge status monitoring and charge schedule setting, is included as well.
Powertrains and Performance
The Toyota RAV4 EV is powered by a 115-kW electric motor that produces the equivalent of 154 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque in Sport mode. Normal mode trims torque down to 218 lb-ft. A single-speed transmission sends all that force to the front wheels. All-wheel drive is not available.
In Edmunds track testing, the RAV4 EV zipped from zero to 60 mph in a fleet 7.2 seconds. Switch from Sport to Normal and you're looking at a still-respectable 8.6 seconds.
The electric motor gets its energy from a 41.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack located underneath the floor. According to the EPA, a single charge from this pack is good for an estimated 103 miles of driving, longer than any other EV except the Tesla Model S. The RAV4 EV needs about 6 hours for a full charge on a recommended 240-volt current.
There's another metric the EPA uses to grade electric vehicles, and that's kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy consumed per 100 miles. The RAV4 checks in at 44 kWh per 100 miles driven (remember that the lower the number here, the better). Translated, that's 78 mpg city/74 mpg highway and 76 mpg combined in miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe). That's not great by EV standards, as other EVs like the Ford Focus Electric, Honda Fit EV and Nissan Leaf are more energy-efficient.
Standard safety features for the 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV include dual front airbags, front-seat-mounted side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. The RAV4 EV also comes with antilock disc brakes; stability control; a rearview camera; and "Safety Connect," a suite of Toyota safety services comprising emergency and roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking and automatic collision notification. Unlike the new-generation RAV4, however, the EV lacks any option for blind-spot monitoring or rear cross-traffic alerts.
In Edmunds brake testing, the RAV4 EV stopped from 60 mph in 126 feet, a solid showing considering the EV's extra weight (4,042 pounds on our scales, or more than 400 pounds heavier than a regular RAV4) and efficiency-biased tires.
Interior Design and Special Features
The RAV4 EV's ho-hum dashboard materials and generally uninspired cabin design contrast with the gasoline-powered 2013 RAV4's completely updated interior. Nonetheless, there's plenty of cool stuff inside the RAV4 EV. The shifter, for instance, is a Prius-style joystick wrapped in Toyota's distinctive deep-blue trim, while the instrument panel, a RAV4 EV original, provides a slew of attractive and helpful information displays. Then there's the 8-inch touchscreen, another EV-only item that offers iPad-like scrolling functionality and even split-screen viewing for multitaskers. That said, the EV is missing a couple of desirable features found on the regular RAV4, namely a sunroof and a power liftgate.
Seat comfort is just fine in front, and outward visibility is commanding. In back, there's enough room for a couple of adults to ride in comfort, and you can squeeze a third in for short trips. Note, however, that the RAV4 EV lacks the third-row seat common to other previous-generation RAV4s, so five passengers is the limit.
Because the RAV4 EV's battery pack is mounted low and out of the way, you get effectively the same versatility as in a regular previous-generation RAV4. That means a healthy 36.4 cubic feet behind the second row, and a downright cavernous 73 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded forward.
The 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV may be a generation behind in RAV4 terms, but its driving character is still impressive. Despite being a high-riding crossover, the RAV4 EV handles deftly, and its regenerative braking system is surprisingly easy to live with, even when set to the stronger of the two driver-selectable modes. Ride quality is very good. We suspect that the EV's extra pounds serve it well in this regard, as there's a sense of solidity to the ride that we don't recall from other previous-generation RAV4s. At the end of the day, what really sets the RAV4 EV apart is its robust acceleration, and it's now the quickest new Toyota RAV4 you can buy.