2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Review

The versatile 2017 RAV4 Hybrid boasts exceptional fuel economy and a spacious cabin.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

There aren't many choices if you want to buy a compact crossover segment and achieve remarkable fuel economy. Before 2016, the Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid was the only hybrid crossover in the game, and we didn't think its marginal fuel savings were worth the higher price. (Customers apparently agreed because the Crosstrek Hybrid has been discontinued for 2017.) Thankfully, last year brought the debut of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which offered significantly higher fuel economy compared to the regular RAV4. We think the price bump is justified.

If you're worried that this fuel-sipping crossover won't be able to keep up with traffic, know that those fears will go unfounded. The RAV4 Hybrid is quicker from 0 to 60 mph than the standard RAV4 and even many other crossovers in this class. You might also worry about cargo space, but again the RAV4 Hybrid hardly suffers. Storage is barely impacted by the hybrid battery pack, which trims space from 38.4 cubic feet to 35.6 cubic feet. Overall, the RAV4 Hybrid is a compelling compact crossover with all the benefits of a traditional hybrid with few downsides.



what's new

New for 2017 is a standard suite of safety systems that Toyota calls Safety Sense. Included are a forward collision warning system, lane departure warning and intervention, automatic high-beam control and adaptive cruise control.

we recommend

We think the midtier SE is the one to get. The entry-level XLE with the Convenience package is a good deal, but pay a little more — and sacrifice the front and rear parking sensors — and you can get the SE with its faux leather upholstery, heated front seats and LED exterior lighting. It also opens the door to the 11-speaker Entune Premium JBL Audio package for those who absolutely need a bumping sound system. The Limited's upgrades don't seem worth the extra cost.




trim levels & features

The 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is one of your only choices if you're in the market for a compact crossover with seating for five and fuel economy that only a hybrid can provide. An electric motor and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (194 horsepower combined) are connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). All-wheel drive is standard. The RAV4 Hybrid comes in three trims: XLE, SE and Limited, all of which have similar features to their standard RAV4 counterparts. The XLE is loaded with equipment, while the SE and Limited command price jumps that we think are proportionate to their extra content.

Highlights for the XLE include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights with auto high-beam control, foglights, heated mirrors, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding and reclining rear seat, a 6.1-inch touchscreen interface (Entune), keyless entry and ignition, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio. Several advanced safety systems are standard this year, including forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning and intervention.

Our favorite is one step up: the SE. With it you also get LED lighting (including headlights), 18-inch wheels, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, simulated-leather upholstery (SofTex), a power driver seat, heated front seats and a power liftgate,

If you want it all, though, there's the range-topping Limited trim with its front and rear parking sensors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, driver-seat memory settings, and a 7-inch touchscreen with navigation and smartphone app integration.

Some of the SE and Limited's features can be added to the XLE as options. A premium JBL sound system and a surround-view parking camera system are other notable options for the SE and Limited.



trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the (2.5L inline-4 hybrid | CVT automatic | AWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

3.5 / 5.0

Acceleration5.0 / 5.0
Braking2.5 / 5.0
Steering3.0 / 5.0
Handling3.0 / 5.0
Drivability5.0 / 5.0

Comfort

3.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort3.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration3.0 / 5.0
Climate control3.0 / 5.0

Interior

3.5 / 5.0

Ease of use3.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.5 / 5.0
Driving position3.5 / 5.0
Roominess3.0 / 5.0
Visibility5.0 / 5.0
Quality2.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.0 / 5.0
Cargo space5.0 / 5.0

Technology

3.0 / 5.0

Audio & navigation2.5 / 5.0
Smartphone integration3.0 / 5.0
Driver aids3.0 / 5.0
Voice control2.5 / 5.0

Driving

edmunds rating
The RAV4 Hybrid offers sprightly accelerative performance, even beating the standard RAV4 in a drag race. It's also a decent handler, though it's a little wallowy in a set of switchbacks. The grabby mechanical brakes make it feel as if you're just learning how to drive every time you use them.

Acceleration

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The instant torque provided by the battery and dual electric motors help the Hybrid jump off the line quicker than the standard RAV4. Makes you wish that every compact crossover had a hybrid variant. Zero to 60 mph takes 8 seconds flat, quicker than any non-turbocharged rival.

Braking

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The brake pedal is long and mushy with little resistance. The handoff from regenerative to mechanical brakes is noticeable, making it hard to brake smoothly. Braking to a stop from 60 mph took 123 feet, a few feet longer than average.

Steering

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The RAV4's steering wheel is weighted a little heavier than that of most compact crossovers but is fairly easy to turn. Like many in this class, it's totally devoid of feedback and feel.

Handling

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You wouldn't think a big, heavy crossover (it tips the scales at nearly 4,000 pounds) goes around corners well, but you'd be surprised. The RAV4 Hybrid is composed around sweeping corners at higher speeds. Tight corners and back-to-back transitions reveal ample body roll.

Drivability

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The Hybrid pulls away from a stop under battery power, firing up the engine only with liberal application of the gas pedal or once you're past about 20 mph. Avoid driving in Eco mode; it severely dulls throttle response. Sport mode keeps the engine revving higher but responses are sluggish at times.

Comfort

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The front seats are roomy and should be comfortable for drivers and passengers, even on a long road trip. But the omnipresent road and wind noise is disappointing. The Hybrid's ride quality is well-sorted and only gets unsettled when you drive over big bumps or traverse washboard roads.

Seat comfort

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Front seats are comfortable enough, but there's no lumbar adjustment unless you upgrade to the SE (though its faux leather isn't as comfy as the XLE's cloth). Only the driver's seat is height-adjustable. Three-person seating in the back is challenging due to an oddly placed middle seat-belt anchor.

Ride comfort

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The RAV4 Hybrid remains comfortable and composed over rough roads. Neither does it feel floaty or disconnected. Well-done, overall.

Noise & vibration

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There's not much engine noise at any speed unless you're really pushing the RAV4 Hybrid hard. Wind and tire noise is overly intrusive while cruising on the highway. The faster you're driving, the less you'll notice the engagement of the gas engine.

Climate control

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The dual-zone climate control adeptly cools the interior on a hot day. For those in front, that is — rear air vents are not available at any level. The cloth seats easily dissipate body heat.

Interior

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Entry and exit are fairly painless, and most occupants will find the cabin quite roomy. Controls on the upper portion of the center console are easy to reach, but you might have difficulty finding some of the buttons below. Outward visibility is excellent.

Ease of use

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The infotainment system features a nice mix between high-level physical buttons and easy-to-press virtual ones. Eco and Sport buttons are slightly hidden on the lower portion of the center stack, in front of the shifter. The door's grab handles intrude on and reduce the length of the armrest.

Getting in/getting out

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A low step-in height and tall doors make it easy to enter and exit the front, except for drivers who like a raised seat. Steering wheel tilt is limited, and drivers may hit their knees on the column. Entering or exiting the back is also easy thanks to the seats' lack of thigh padding and bolstering.

Driving position

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The driver's seat offers a huge range of adjustment in height, and the seat bottom angles up nicely. As in many other Toyotas, the steering wheel doesn't offer much tilt or telescoping adjustment.

Roominess

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There's an abundance of head- and legroom throughout the cabin. Four 6-footers will have no problem on a long road trip. Even the middle seat position has enough headroom for adults. The front seats feel a bit narrow.

Visibility

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The tall, wide windows allow for an expansive view out. There's a sizable window in the three-quarter view that compensates for the wide rear pillar. The rear window is also large. Overall, the RAV4 Hybrid is impressively easy to see out of.

Quality

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Materials quality in the RAV4 Hybrid is inferior to that of similarly priced competitors. Rivals simply do a better job concealing the use of hard plastics; the RAV4 seems to embrace its economy roots. Our tester had only 4,000 miles on the odometer but exhibited its share of squeaks and rattles.

Utility

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Not only does the RAV4 Hybrid offer one of the largest cargo areas in the class, its low liftover height also means you won't strain your back while loading heavy items. But the liftgate doesn't open very high. Quite a few storage cubbies are strewn throughout the cabin, though none are large.

Small-item storage

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There are two cupholders and a couple small storage areas under the center stack, plus a moderately sized bin under the central armrest and a tray in front of the passenger. Front door pockets aren't especially large and require a stretch to reach. Rear door pockets will only hold a water bottle.

Cargo space

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The cargo area is wide and flat, with a low liftover height. Maximum cargo volume of 35.6 cubic feet with the rear seats in place and 70.6 cubes with them folded is slightly less than the regular RAV4, but it's larger than what almost every other non-hybrid offers.

Child safety seat accommodation

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The lower LATCH anchors are well-concealed and far from the seatback. You really have to reach in and fish around before you find them. The three seatback tethers can be accessed with the cargo cover in place, but these are also hidden under a thin cloth cover.

Technology

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The infotainment interface is easy to navigate and use, though it looks rather dated and it's impossible to see the screen in direct sunlight. All RAV4 models receive additional driver assistance features for 2017. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and multiple USB ports are all absent.

Audio & navigation

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The touchscreen's user interface prioritizes function over form. It has a relatively simple layout and menu structure, though it's not particularly attractive and the screen resolution is fairly low. The screen totally washes out in direct sunlight.

Smartphone integration

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There's a single USB port in front and none in the back. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are notably absent. Instead, Toyota utilizes a smartphone integration system of its own design, called Entune. You'll have to download the app, create an account, and pair your phone before it's ready to be used.

Driver aids

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The RAV4 is now equipped with a ton of standard advanced safety equipment, including lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking. Adaptive cruise overshoots its speed on downhill grades, which is unusual. The low-resolution display translates to a fairly muddy rearview camera picture.

Voice control

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Hitting the voice control button displays a list of phrases, and the recognition software also recognizes natural speech. It's not the best, with a lot of garbled translations before it hits the mark. Best to use Siri Eyes Free if you have an iPhone (accessed by holding the phone disconnect button).

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.