Full 2014 Toyota RAV4 EV Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the Toyota RAV4 EV carries over unchanged and as such remains based on the previous-generation RAV4.
The all-electric 2014 Toyota RAV4 EV is something of an odd duck in the company's extensive model lineup. Although the gas-powered RAV4 was recently redesigned, the all-electric version presses on still based on the previous-generation RAV4. Of course, this means the RAV4 EV lacks the newer RAV4's various improvements. But that's not to say that being an odd duck is a bad thing.
As a crossover SUV, the RAV4 EV is expected to offer abundant cargo capacity, and despite its need to accommodate a sizable battery pack, it does. Its 73 cubic feet of max capacity not only matches the redesigned gas-only RAV4, but makes it one of the most spacious compact SUVs. Performance is also impressive, as this electric SUV can scoot to 60 mph in just 7.2 seconds. Of course, "how far can it go on a charge?" will likely be more of a concern than how quickly it charges forward. Although the RAV4 EV's 103-mile driving range may seem stingy by conventional vehicle standards, it's actually better than any other 2014 electric vehicle apart from the super advanced (and super expensive) Tesla Model S. Add in this Toyota's high-tech yet user-friendly features and comfortable cabin and you've got an unusually well-rounded electric vehicle.
Unfortunately, there are some significant issues with the RAV4 EV, the least of which is its antiquated interior with lesser materials and fewer features than you'll find on the redesigned, gas-only RAV4. Primarily, you'll need to be a California resident to buy or lease a RAV4 EV, as they're not available anywhere else. Second, you'll need to bring upwards of $40,000 to buy what is ostensibly a last-generation RAV4, even after government incentives and tax breaks. However, if that price seems right and you call the Golden State home, we encourage you to give the 2014 Toyota RAV4 EV a close look.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 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 headlights and running lights, power-folding mirrors, a unique grille, an elongated rear spoiler, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, "SofTex" simulated leather upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 60/40-split-folding reclining and sliding rear seat 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 reduces torque 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 swift 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 76 mpg combined in miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe) (78 city/74 highway).
That's not great by EV standards, as other EVs like the 2014 Ford Focus Electric, 2014 Honda Fit EV and 2014 Nissan Leaf are more energy-efficient, though they are considerably smaller.
Standard safety features for the 2014 Toyota RAV4 EV include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, dual front airbags, front-seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. Also standard is Safety Connect, which is 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 version can't be had with 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 (it's 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 RAV4's more modern and recently redesigned interior. Nonetheless, there's plenty of cool stuff here. The shifter, for instance, is a Prius-style joystick wrapped in Toyota's distinctive deep-blue trim, while the instrument panel provides a slew of attractive and helpful information displays. Then there's the 8-inch touchscreen, which 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 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 cargo-carrying versatility as in a regular previous-generation RAV4. That means a healthy 36.4 cubic feet behind the second row seats, and a downright cavernous 73 cubic feet with those seats folded forward.
The 2014 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 relatively deftly, and its regenerative braking system is surprisingly easy to live with. Overall ride quality is very good, too. We suspect that the EV's extra weight serves it well in this regard, as there's a sense of solidity to the ride that we don't recall from previous-generation RAV4s. What really sets the RAV4 EV apart and makes it a bit of a kick to drive is its robust acceleration, as it's the quickest new Toyota RAV4 you can buy.