2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SE AWD Test Drive

?2018 Toyota RAV4 SE AWD Hybrid?
RAV4 Adds grades for More Action
The compact crossover movement was pioneered by the Toyota RAV4 more than two decades ago, providing owners with the means for off-the-beaten-path adventuring. Toyota now expands the scope of the RAV4 to new heights for the 2018 model year with a new Adventure grade that delivers a bolder styling, elevated ride height and other specialized features. In addition, a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is now available on the LE grade, offering the same EPA-estimated 34 mpg city and electronic on-demand All-Wheel-Drive system with intelligence (AWD-i).

The RAV4 is available in six trim levels: the base LE, XLE, Adventure, SE, Limited, and Platinum, while the RAV4 Hybrid is now available in four grades for the 2018 model year: LE, XLE, SE, and Limited. The RAV4 LE hybrid grade builds on the standard equipment of the LE gas model while adding other standard features such as roof rails, the Smart Key System, dual-zone automatic climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, and more.

The Toyota RAV4 has grown in stature over its 22 year existence, adding 22-inches to its overall length. It is one of the roomiest vehicles in its segment, yet remains easy to maneuver and to park. Seating is adequate for five adults, with a competitive 37.2 inches of rear legroom and, behind the rear seat, 38.4 cu. ft. of cargo capacity (35.6 cu. ft. for Hybrid). With the 60/40 split rear seats folded, that space expands to 73.4 cu. ft. (70.6 cu. ft. for Hybrid). The rear seatbacks recline back up to 24 degrees for added passenger comfort, and rear privacy glass is standard on all RAV4 models.

My test Toyota Hybrid came in the SE trim or grade level in an AWDi configuration. Its base price was set at $32,185, while the as tested sticker came to $33,270. Before any federal, regional or local tax credits. The only extra charges were for the cargo tonneau cover and the Delivery, processing and Handling fee. The exterior wore an Electric Storm Blue metallic finish, while the interior was done on Brown and Black tones with Graphite trim accents.
The SE grade equipment and features that come in addition to or in place of the LE and XLE standard fare which includes: LED Projector Beam headlights with auto-on/off feature ; LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL); LED tail lamps; 18-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels with P235/55R18 tires; and Height-adjustable power liftgate with jam protection; SofTex?-trimmed 8-way power adjustable driver?s seat; power lumbar support; sport bolsters and seatback pocket; 4-way adjustable front passenger seat with sport bolsters and seatback pocket; Driver and front passenger heated seats; SofTex-trimmed 60/40 split, reclining fold-flat second row seat with center armrest; an XE shift lever, door sill protectors and floor mats. There?s also a host of available factory options for personalization.

The standard audio system consists of Entune Audio Plus with Connected Navigation, which includes the Entune Multimedia Bundle (6.1-in. high resolution touch-screen display, AM/FM CD player, MP3/WMA playback capability, 6 speakers, auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology), Scout? GPS Link, Siri? Eyes Free, SiriusXM? Satellite Radio with 3-month Complimentary Sirius XM All Access Trial, HD Radio?, HD? Traffic and weather in major metro areas, and integrated backup camera display with projected path dynamic lines.

Every Toyota RAV4 grade is outfitted with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P), combining the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/ PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/ SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). TSS-P?s features create real-time safety designed to support driver awareness and on the road decision-making.

Complementing TSS-P are standard Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) and rear backup camera, as well as available Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA). Both BSM and RCTA are available on XLE, Adventure, and SE grades and come standard on Limited, Platinum, and SE Hybrid grades. (BTW, RAV4 stands for Recreational Active Vehicle with 4WD).

Selection of the RAV4 Hybrid brings both added power and higher fuel efficiency over the non-hybrid version. Hybrid grades come equipped with an Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel-Drive System with intelligence (AWD-i) as standard. A second, independent electric motor drives the rear wheels when needed to help maintain optimal traction.
Toyota?s Hybrid Synergy Drive sets the benchmark for seamless hybrid performance, high efficiency, and exemplary dependability. The 2018 RAV4 Hybrid combines output from a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and a small high-torque electric motor through its unique transaxle. RAV4 Hybrid delivers powerful performance from a combined 194 system horsepower. The versatile Hybrid is the quickest in the RAV4 line, with zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds.
The hybrid system varies power between the gas engine and electric motor, or combines both seamlessly as needed. Regenerative braking converts the electric motor to a generator capturing the kinetic energy of the still-turning wheels when the brake is applied, storing it in the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) hybrid battery pack. An ECO mode optimizes throttle response and air conditioning output helping to prioritize fuel economy. In EV mode, RAV4 Hybrid, under certain conditions, can run solely on the electric motor for up to 0.6 miles at speeds below approximately 25 mph. A Hybrid System Indicator and fuel consumption indicator, located in a 4.2-inch TFT screen, helps inform the driver how to operate the vehicle as economically as possible. The 2018 RAV4 Hybrid received an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 34 mpg city/30 mpg highway/32 mpg combined.
Towing isn?t recommended for the SE Hybrid version RAV4, but the other three hybrid trim levels are tow-rated for 1,750-pounds.
SUMMARY: The body structure of the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid incorporates extensive use of high-strength steel providing a stiff, yet light platform architecture, and is the foundation for the RAV4?s smooth comfortable ride quality, responsive and athletic handling agility as well as cabin quietness.

The MacPherson strut front suspension and double-wishbone style multi-link rear suspension allow the RAV4 to soak up bumps, ruts and railroad crossings efficiently with ease, and SE grades receive uniquely sport-tuned shock absorbers and coils for an enhanced sporty driving quality, while the Vehicle-speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion electric power steering provides a precise feel and quick response.
Acceleration is more than adequate, especially with the combined power application of both the gas and electric power sources, and the operation is virtually non-detectable.

In a bottom line analysis, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 SE AWD Hybrid is an ideal choice when looking for a highly dependable and versatile compact crossover, which in reality is no longer all that compact in form.
Hybrid-related components, including the HV battery, battery control module, hybrid control module and inverter with converter, are covered for eight years/100,000 miles. In applicable states, hybrid-related component coverage is 15 years/150,000 miles with the exception of the hybrid battery, which is covered for 10 years/150,000 miles.


Base Price: $32,185.
Price as Tested: $33,270.

Hybrid Synergy Drive System includes:

Engine Type and Size: 2.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve inline 4-cylinder with Dual VVTi and electronic fuel injection.

Horsepower (bhp): 150 @ 5,700 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 152 @ 4,400 rpm

Electric Motors:
Motor Generator 1 (MG1) – Function Generator, engine starter, charges hybrid battery
– Type Permanent magnet motor
– Max. voltage AC 650V
Motor Generator 2 (MG2) – Function Drives front wheels, regeneration during braking
– Type Permanent magnet motor
– Max. voltage AC 650V
– Max. output 141 hp (105 kW)
Motor Generator Rear (MGR) – Function Drives rear wheels, regeneration during braking
– Max voltage/output AC 650V 67 hp (50kW)

Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Motor: 105kW/4,500 rpm / 199 lb.-ft. torque @ 0-1,500 rpm. Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack ? 244.8 V Nominal Voltage (204 cells @1.2 V) ? 6.5 ampere hour / 650 volts maximum.

Transmission: Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

Drive Train: Front mounted engine and motor / Electronic On- Demand AWD System with intelligence (AWD-i

Suspension: Front ? Independent MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar and hydraulic shock absorbers
Rear ? Double-wishbone style multi-link rear suspension with coil springs, trailing arms, stabilizer bar, and hydraulic shock absorbers.

Brakes: Power-assisted, electronically controlled four-wheel disc brake system (vented front), with ABS, BA and integrated regenerative brake system.

Tires: Bridgestone Ecopia H/L 422 Plus 235/55 R18 100H mounted on 5-?Y?-spoke machine face alloys with gloss Black inners.

Wheelbase: 104.7 inches
Length Overall: 183.5 inches
Width: 72.6 inches
Height: 67.5 inches ? with roof rails.
Curb Weight: 3,950 lbs.
Turning Circle: 34.8 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 14.8 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 34 mpg city / 30 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: Not listed
0 – 60 mph: Not tested

Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.

More from Our Auto Expert