Great gas mileage isn’t the only luxury in the 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
City dwellers face many challenges with car ownership. Gas stations are rate where real estate is expensive, but plug-in hybrids are impractical to charge if you park on the street. So the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is an ideal vehicle for that urban resident – it actually gets better mileage in stop and go traffic, and is rated to get 34 MPG in the city and 31MPG on the highway. But good gas mileage isn’t at the expense of space; it has the room to take you out of the city on an adventure. And if you’re looking to invest in a used car, you can’t go wrong with the RAV4.
About that fuel economy
The way the 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid gets its fuel economy, explained Toyota spokesperson Corey Proffitt, is that “most, if not all, hybrids optimize fuel economy in urban settings with higher traffic and stop and go situations. Much of this is as a result of the engineering efforts to reduce drag from stopping with regenerative braking. Braking actually serves to power the electric motor which then runs in the low speed situations, decoupling the combustion motor, thereby saving fuel. In addition, during stops the combustion engine will also decouple, running only with the electric motor.” So instead of your engine gurgling or spewing fumes when you stop at a light, it is actually silent and charging the hybrid battery.
Who the 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is for
- Drivers who want a more sustainable, fuel efficient small-sized SUV
- City dwellers without a driveway or garage who can’t charge a plug-in hybrid
- Suburban or country dwellers who need great performance combined with superior gas mileage
- Small families or couples who want an SUV but don’t need a third row
- Bikers or kayakers who want to easily bring their gear
- Budget conscious buyers who want the latest safety and technology with some luxury touches but who don’t want to pay top dollar; the model we drove is priced about $36,000
- Post menopausal women who don’t require a cooled seat option (there isn’t one available)
Loaded with nice features, and with safety
The RAV4 hybrid is only available at the top of the RAV4 trim lines; that means that the two models, the Limited, which drove, and the XLE, come with many features and luxuries standard.
The RAV4 Limited Hybrid, like all RAV4s, comes standard with Toyota’s Star Safety System, which has traction control, stability control, brake force distribution (which keeps the car stable in a sudden braking situation) brake assist (which anticipates a need to brake and starts to brake before you do) and smart stop (brings the car to a complete stop if someone crosses in front of your car or traffic ahead of you suddenly comes to a stop).
The Limited model I drove gave me a very safe and secure feel. The car includes: All wheel drive, Blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert; Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection; Lane departure alert with steering assist; Automatic high beams; and Dynamic radar cruise control (aka adaptive cruise control). There is also front and rear parking sonar, so if you are one of those city drivers, street parking is much easier. The semi-autonomous features like the pre-collision system and lane departure alert include both audio and visual warnings, but are not intrusive.
Hello, Miss Navi: delighted that she really gets me!
Pairing a phone with Bluetooth is easy and using the navigation system is a snap. The voice activated nav understood my voice commands immediately; I felt a bond with the system, which seemed to ‘get me.’ No screaming at the disembodied voice in frustration when it tries to direct you to Arkansas when you clearly said an address in New Jersey. The nav also has easy to follow directions; you get a warning 2 miles in advance about an upcoming exit, and which side of the road, another prompt at a mile and at the half mile, plus an audio cue for the imminent turn or exit.
The dashboard also lets you know when a turn is coming up, and even provides the name of the road. The only thing missing was the speed limit on the seven inch touchscreen.
Three drive modes let you shift from ‘Eco’ to ‘fun’
The RAV4 has three drive modes: Eco (which adjusts engine performance and air conditioning for efficiency), sport (a little more power; great for merging onto the highway) and EV (you can go .6 miles at less than 25 miles per hour on the electric engine; useful if your kid borrows the car and leaves you on fumes).
Luxury touches you don’t expect in a small mid-priced SUV
Although the Toyota is not a luxury car – for that, you have to look to its more elegant sister brand, Lexus – it incorporates some of the more refined extras that luxury drivers demand. Its a very quiet car (mostly because the hybrid engine is so silent, you only know the vehicle is on when the dashboard lights up) and has a power moonroof, roof rails, and heated seats, all included. The power liftgate can be adjusted so if you have a low garage door, or are vertically challenged, the gate isn’t too high. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather, but the seats are a faux leather called Softex.
What I loved
- Heated front seats
- Great gas mileage in an SUV with all wheel drive
- Simple navigation system
- Buttons for twirling the dial on the Sirius XM radio stations; also steering wheel controls
- Large power moonroof
What You Need to Know
- Base price: $33,610; price for the model I drove, with advanced technology package and roof rack, $36,609
- Get 33 mpg combined: 34 in the city, 31 on the highway. Yes: Better gas mileage in the city!
- Takes regular gas
- Not yet rated for government safety
- Only 1 USB port; (in the front) there are also 3 12 volt power outlets throughout the vehicle.
How Does the 2016 Toyota RAV4 Fare as a Used Car?
The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid remains a great option for used-car buyers. It’s the top of a small SUV class that includes the Mazda CX-5, the Hyundai Tucson, and the Subaru Forester, and there’s a reason why Toyota has continued to refine the architecture of this car well into the future. You’ll fall in love with how it looks and never want to give it up for its incredible fuel mileage, all-wheel drive options, and long-term reliability. It’s an incredible, cost-effective option for families, young couples, or first-time drivers.
Most 2016 Toyota RAV4 models range from $19,150 – $24,250 used, though exact pricing can depend on location, wear, and other factors.
- An incorrect label can lead to overloading the car and crashing; make sure to confirm your numbers with manufacturer recommendations.
- A recall was issued for inefficient brake pressure, which could lead to a crash. Make sure this issue has been fixed before buying.
- Antilock brake systems have other issues when they get wet, including making strange noises and disabling other safety features. If the brakes makes any strange noises, take it in for repairs immediately.
- Waterproof seals can erode pretty quickly on certain models due to faulty construction.
What Owners Are Saying
- “Reliable with good MPG. I will say that…. I will also say it had a rough ride and seats were not comfortable. More road noise then i would expect. It was a 2wd model, it would spin the tires to easy in our opinion and that made us feel unsafe when trying to accelrate hard when needed.. We traded it in for a 2020 Rav with AWD. I and the wife love the 2020, no complaints.” – Curt
- “The car is about as reliable as a car can be. This beauty has only 56,000 miles on it, and in Toyota world, it is just barely broken in. It’ll keep going LONG after Chevvies and Fords are in the scrap heap. It’s not unheard of for Toyotas to get a million miles before they go kaput. SOOOO different than my 1979 Plymouth Horizon that bit the big one at 56,000 miles – same as my current RAV4. It just wore out and everything started failing. My RAV4 looks, feels and drives like a new car still. WHat a difference in build quality!!!” – Osszefogva
- “The SUV has been garage kept or under a carport! Inside and out is in excellent shape with no smoking. Car was bought for long distant driving, and only went to New York, Baltimore Virginia, Kentucky Houston and San Antonio, Tx. Getting older and think is best to just let someone who is in good health enjoy it as we did! Has a new battery and moonroof has a wind water deflector. Car has had all its care done at a Toyota car Dealership every 5-6 months. SUV is in great shape. 3 times a year had it waxed. Motor has economic or switch to make it a sport Also has a clear type plastic that protect front bumper, hood to entry way! Helps prevent pebbles from long distance driving dents scratches. Are 2 small areas on hood with real tiny break in paint from where truck spit pebbles! But other than that there are no dents on car!” – Yolie
Note: Toyota provided the RAV4 Hybrid for review purposes. Opinions expressed are my own.