Thursday, May 19, 2016

Updated Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has plenty to like

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­– The Toyota RAV4 crossover sport-utility vehicle is one of the pioneers of the niche.

Its long-standing popularity can be traced to universal appeal: It’s a reasonable size, affordably priced and handles with the ease of a midsize sedan.  The RAV4 works as an everyday commuter, a suburban workhorse or a comfortable long trip traveler.

It gets a major reworking for the 2016 model year.

And in the case of my tester – the 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited AWD – you can feel good about gas mileage and doing your part for the host planet.

Full disclosure: I’ve liked the RAV4 for a long time.  My wife drives one.  She loves it.  This is significant because the day before she bought her RAV4 (a comparatively old-school version with the spare tire mounted on the back), she wasn’t a fan of SUVs.

Kudos to Toyota for making the RAV4 so alluring.

What I experienced in the tested 2016 model was quiet, smooth, easy-to-handle efficiency.  Simple pleasures mean a lot in the crowded crossover SUV niche.  This RAV4 has plentiful pleasures.

With the hybrid technology, the price on the tester was a somewhat hefty $34,874, but that included everything, which in this case meant a long list of driving safety/enhancement features (pre-collision warning, blind spot monitor, “smart stop” technology and rear cross traffic alert to name just a few).

It not just all business.  Driver and passengers can enjoy the nice-looking, 18-inch alloy wheels, the power moonroof and the height-adjustable power liftgate.

Downright luxurious, I say.

On the roll, the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine combines with a high-torque electric motor to deliver spirited performance.

Toyota notes that the RAV4 hybrid’s zero to 60 miles per hour time of 8.1 seconds is nearly a second quicker than its gas counterparts.  I believe it.  I was surprised at the oomph the tested RAV4 put forth on steep uphill climbs.  And it was an effortless and nimble cruiser in dicey rush hour commutes.

Bottom line bonus: 34 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

Pretty good numbers there, especially given the pop the RAV4 has.  If you’ve been pondering a Prius but need more vehicle, this hybrid RAV4 should be on your test drive list.

Toyota touts the latest RAV4 as ideal for “active young couples who put high fuel economy at the top of a priority list that also includes utility, style, versatility and capability.”

I was horribly offended by this, because it’s a pretty enjoyable vehicle for relentlessly aging baby boomers like yours truly.

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