What Is It?
The 2016 Toyota RAV4 features a mild refresh with the key additions of a sporty SE trim and a hybrid model. The latter will have the only gasoline-electric powertrain in the segment.
What's New About This Model?
All RAV4s get exterior styling updates, while certain trim levels will also offer full LED headlights and running lights. Interior improvements include better materials (specifically soft-touch surfaces on the upper door sill and lower dash), a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel on all but the base trim, and a revised cupholder design better suited for that jumbo mug of morning joe.
There are also several new optional features, including parking sensors, a multi-camera parking aid, and advanced collision prevention technologies. Finally, the RAV4 gains a new SE trim that features more aggressive styling cues and sharper driving dynamics.
When Does It Go on Sale?
The 2016 Toyota RAV4 will go on sale this fall.
How Much Does It Cost?
Toyota did not release pricing, but expect a modest increase from 2015. In regards to the RAV4 Hybrid, a price premium of around $3,000-$4,000 is possible, as that is the premium placed on the Camry Hybrid compared to its conventionally powered sibling.
What Kind of Standard and Optional Safety Equipment Is Offered?
The 2016 Toyota RAV4 will be available in LE, XLE, Limited and new SE trim levels. The most basic LE still includes automatic headlights, rear privacy glass, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch touchscreen interface and two USB ports with a media player interface. The XLE adds alloy wheels, a sunroof, dual-zone auto climate control, upgraded front seats and satellite radio. The Limited adds items like push-button start, a power driver seat, heated front seats, "SofTex" simulated leather upholstery and the new Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) system (information about it below).
New features available on the upper trims include a multi-information display between the primary gauges and a larger, 7-inch touchscreen interface. A new, low-cost navigation system that streams from a driver's smartphone is also available on the LE, while the other trims can be equipped with a fully integrated navigation system.
What Is the New RAV4 SE?
Following the lead of the successful Camry and Sienna SE trims, the RAV4 SE adds a touch of visual and dynamic verve to this otherwise staid compact SUV. It includes special 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, unique exterior styling elements, the SofTex upholstery, unique red-accented gauges, transmission paddle shifters and special two-tone color schemes. Importantly, the 2016 RAV4 SE also features a sport-tuned suspension for better handling.
What Unique Features Does the 2016 RAV4 Offer?
The 2016 RAV4 ups the ante in terms of available safety features. These include the new Bird's Eve View Monitor, which includes four cameras located on the front, side mirrors and rear to together provide a top-level view while parking. It's a feature increasingly common on luxury vehicles, but rare among mainstream brands.
Also noteworthy is the Toyota Safety Sense system standard on the RAV4 Limited. It includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, a lane departure warning system and the pre-collision system. PCS utilizes a camera and a laser sensor to detect objects ahead (whether vehicles, pedestrians or something else). If system detects the possibility of a collision, it will alert the driver through visual and audio cues. The system will provide additional braking force beyond the driver's efforts, as well as automatically apply the brakes in the event of no driver action.
What Kind of Engines and Transmissions Does It Have?
Toyota did not announce changes to the RAV4's 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine for 2016. It produces 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard; all-wheel drive is optional. In Edmunds testing, the 2015 RAV4 delivered average-to-slow acceleration. Last year's model returned 26 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, and 25 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.
What Fuel Economy Does the RAV4 Hybrid Get?
Toyota did not release any sort of fuel economy estimate for the RAV4 Hybrid, nor any powertrain details beyond the fact that it will boast better acceleration and fuel economy than the gas-only version.
We assume, however, that it will have the same basic hybrid powertrain as the Camry Hybrid: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT) and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. All-wheel drive is standard, though, which could indicate there are two electric motors: one aiding the engine and co-powering the front wheels, and another solely in charge of powering the rear wheels.
What Models Will It Compete Against?
When it arrives this fall, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid will be the only gasoline-electric compact SUV. However, those interested in a similar sort of vehicle should consider the Ford C-Max Hybrid and Toyota's own Prius V that provide greater cargo capacity than the typical hybrid does.
Honda CR-V: In most ways, the Honda CR-V is the standard-bearer for the compact SUV segment, both in terms of its top sales and ratings from our editors. It is, above all else, well rounded, providing the functionality, comfort, fuel economy and value that shoppers desire.
Mazda CX-5: Along with the CR-V, the CX-5 is an Edmunds "A"-rated compact SUV. It provides sharp handling, excellent fuel economy, a comfortable cabin and for 2016, a user-friendly tech interface.
Should You Wait for It?
The 2016 Toyota RAV4 SE could definitely be worth waiting for given that we've found the SE versions of the Camry and Sienna to be their most desirable variations. The RAV4 Hybrid's superior fuel economy is also intriguing. However, the other updates for the 2016 RAV4 aren't so appealing or ground-breaking as to necessarily dissuade you from turning down a great deal on a 2015.