2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Test Drive Review: The Best Seller, For A Reason

If 448,068 people all jumped off a bridge, would you do it too? Well, that's the number of people who purchased a Toyota RAV4 in 2019, making it the best selling non-pickup truck in the US. But did these nearly half a million people make a wise decision, or is the RAV4 more like jumping off a bridge?

While most of these were likely combustion-only derivatives, it's the RAV4 Hybrid we focus on today, which recently arrived in our driveway in top-spec Limited trim. While a potent plug-in hybrid is due for 2021, the standard 219-horsepower Hybrid is no weak link. With ample performance tied in to excellent fuel economy, it seems to more than justify the bump in price over regular models. Does the RAV4 still stand out in the most competitive segment on the market? We had a week to find out.

Read in this review:

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 RAV4 Hybrid?

While the standard RAV4 lineup received a major addition in the form of the TRD Off-Road model, the Hybrid's changes are a little more subtle. Android Auto functionality has finally been added to the infotainment system's list of capabilities along with SiriusXM satellite radio. A minor reshuffling of equipment means the XLE model loses its standard sunroof but gains a power-adjustable driver's seat, while the Limited gets a JBL sound system as standard for the new year.

Pros and Cons

  • Incredibly fuel-efficient
  • Loads of standard safety
  • New additions to the infotainment suite finally include Android Auto
  • Handsome styling
  • Spacious cargo hold and tons of interior storage
  • Relatively affordable compared to non-hybrid
  • Base model feels very spartan inside
  • Unrefined engine
  • Hardly entertaining to drive
  • Brake modulation feels artificial
  • Too much road noise

Best Deals on RAV4 Hybrid

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Hybrid LE
2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
$28,350
Hybrid XLE
2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
$29,645
Hybrid XSE
2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
$34,300
Hybrid Limited
2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
$36,880

RAV4 Hybrid Exterior

With trims mirroring the standard RAV4 lineup, much of the Hybrid's exterior features correlate with the image of its non-hybrid siblings. To that end, all RAV4 Hybrid models have LED daytime running lights and LED headlights, but from the XLE Hybrid onwards the RAV4 is equipped with LED projectors. 17-inch alloys are standard on LE and XLE trims, with XSE and Limited models upsizing to a set of 18s. These two also receive a hexagon-patterned front grille hiding the active grille shutters present on all hybrid variants.

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Front Angle View Carbuzz
2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Frontal Aspect Carbuzz
2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Rear View Carbuzz
See All 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Many of the RAV4 Hybrid's dimensions are shared with the standard model, including an overall length of 180.9 inches and a width of 73 inches. The body rests on a wheelbase of 105.9 inches, but in hybrid guise, the RAV4 stands 67 inches tall matching the base height of regular variants. The biggest difference comes in the RAV4 Hybrid's curb weight, which ranges from 3,710 lbs to 3,800 lbs, gaining on average 180 lbs over comparably specced AWD models without hybridization.

  • Length 180.9 in
  • Wheelbase 105.9 in
  • Height 67.0 in
  • Max Width 73.0 in
  • Front Width 63.0 in
  • Rear Width 63.7 in

Exterior Colors

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid's exterior color palette comprises nine basic hues, with certain trims eligible for a broader range of colors and several two-tone paint options. Silver Sky and Magnetic Gray are the only two options available across all four trims, with Blueprint available on all but the LE. On the base trim, this is replaced with Blue Flame, also available on the XLE, along with Lunar Rock which is XLE-exclusive. Blizzard Pearl is added exclusively to the XSE and Limited trims, where it asks an extra $425, the same premium commanded by Ruby Flare Pearl on the LE, XLE, and Limited trims. The XSE is unique in that it only gets four options, but all come as two-tone selections with a Midnight Black roof. Our tester was sent to us wearing a nice shade of Ruby Flare Pearl which we appreciated but wouldn't pay extra for.

  • Super White
  • Midnight Black Metallic
  • Silver Sky Metallic
  • Magnetic Gray Metallic
  • Ruby Flare Pearl
  • Blue Flame
  • Blue Print
  • Lunar Rock
  • Silver Sky Metallic w/Black Roof
  • Magnetic Gray Metallic w/Black Roof
  • Blue Print w/Black Roof
  • Blizzard Pearl w/Black Roof
  • Blizzard Pearl

RAV4 Hybrid Performance

Performance is hardly the purview of a hybrid crossover, and yet Toyota challenges that notion by giving the RAV4 Hybrid more power than the standard model at 219 combined horsepower. It's a blend between a 2.5-liter four-cylinder combustion engine and a 118-hp multi-electric motor assist system, with motors mounted to the rear axle making the RAV4 Hybrid a permanently all-wheel-driven vehicle in much the same way the upcoming Honda CR-V Hybrid is. With more power, electric augmentation, and all-wheel grip, the new RAV4 Hybrid has been tested running from 0 to 60 mph in under 7.5 seconds, besting the standard model by nearly a full second in the process. Both share a top speed of 130 mph. The electric assistance also benefits the Hybrid's ability to tow, giving it a maximum towing capacity of 1,750 lbs - only beaten on Adventure and TRD Off-road variants of the regular RAV4 who can tow up to 3,500 lbs.

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Front View Driving Toyota
2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Rear View Driving Toyota
2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Engine Toyota

Engine and Transmission

The RAV4 Hybrid utilizes the same 2.5-liter Dynamic Force four-cylinder engine as the regular RAV does, but for the sake of efficiency, it's detuned to produce only 176 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque. But the ace up its sleeve is an electric motor system with two electric motors operating independently. The one on the front axle produces an additional 118 hp and 149 lb-ft, while the smaller motor at the rear produces 54 hp and 89 lb-ft. Together, these systems combine to produce a total system output of 219 hp, controlled by a CVT transmission. You may note that those numbers add up to well over 219 but hybrid vehicle horsepower is rated in a unique way because the engine and electric motors rarely produce peak power at the same time.

Rather than using an eight-speed automatic like the standard RAV4, the RAV4 Hybrid uses a continuously variable transmission. We can hear your groans already but let us just tell you that we actually prefer the CVT to the eight-speed. The regular RAV4 feels much louder than the hybrid and the automatic transmission never feels like it is in the correct gear. With the CTV, access to the power is much more immediate and the hybrid system feels smoother than the gas-only option.

  • Engine
    2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
  • Transmission
    Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrain
    AWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Driving the RAV4 Hybrid is far from the most remarkable experience you'll ever have in a car but unlike previous generations, this latest model does offer some enjoyment. Now based on the same TNGA architecture that underpins the Camry and Corolla, the RAV4 has playful steering that doesn't feel completely detached from the front wheels. Ride comfort is excellent for an affordable car but we'd like to see Toyota add more sound deadening to eliminate road noise because at highway speeds, the RAV4 can be tiresome. Like many hybrids, the brake pedal feels slightly unnatural due to the inclusion of the energy regeneration but we got used to it pretty quickly.

Drivers can select Eco, Normal, and Sport modes using a rotating knob that even lights up with different colors depending on the mode. These settings change the personality of the RAV4 slightly but enough to be noticable. Throttle response is pretty lackluster in Eco mode but in Sport mode, the hybrid feels far more willing to accelerate than its gas-engined counterpart. There's also an EV mode that lets you drive using the battery only but it only works for very short distance at neighborhood speed. For a longer electric range, wait for the Prime.

RAV4 Hybrid Gas Mileage

Despite improvements in performance thanks to the hybrid powertrain, the real goal is to improve the crossover's gas mileage - something Toyota has excelled at. While standard RAV4's achieve only 28/35/30 mpg city/highway/combined in FWD guise, the Hybrid elevates those figures to 41/38/40 mpg with AWD - on paper at least. The 14.5-gallon fuel tank equipped on all trims can theoretically take the RAV4 Hybrid on a 580-mile journey in mixed conditions.

In our test of the RAV4, we observed combined fuel economy of 44.6 mpg, besting the EPA ratings by a wide margin. It is worth noting though that most of our driving was done around town and our observed highway fuel economy was far less impressive. On a trip to Miami to return the RAV4, we saw just 34 mpg, failing to meet the EPA ratings. Based on EPA estimated for fuel costs, the RAV4 Hybrid will save you around $350 per year compared to the standard model. Since the Hybrid only costs around $1,000 more than an AWD non-hybrid, you can earn that premium back in just over three years of driving.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    14.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 41/38 mpg
* 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid LE AWD

RAV4 Hybrid Interior

With little to differentiate the Hybrid from regular RAV4s, the interior inherits the same strong and weak points, prioritizing ergonomics and storage over design and fancy materials. Our tester - a top-spec Limited model - might have been equipped with faux leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever, and a stitched padded dash and armrest, but lesser trims are far more spartan with loads of tacky plastics, and regardless of what trim you opt for, the infotainment screen looks dated standing proud in the center of the dash. The biggest perk to the RAV4 Hybrid is that it's a massively practical crossover that manages to match the non-hybrid for cargo space, and with rear seats that fold completely flat, storing large items is supremely easy.

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Dashboard Carbuzz
2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Gauge Cluster Carbuzz
2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Speaker Carbuzz
See All 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

All versions of the RAV4 offer seating for five passengers with no option for a third-row. Front seat occupants have up to 39.5 inches of headroom without the optional moonroof and 41 inches of legroom, while in the back, these figures measure 39.5 and 37.8 inches respectively. This makes the RAV4 admirably sized in the compact crossover category but it is far from the most spacious option available. The Honda CR-V, the RAV4's closest competitor, offers more room in the back seat.

As for interior space, there are plenty of places to fit smaller items in the cabin including a storage bin with an optional wireless charger in front of the shifter and two cubbies on the dashboard.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.0 in
  • Front Head Room 39.5 in
  • Rear Leg Room 37.8 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.5 in

Interior Colors and Materials

The base LE grade gets cloth seat fabric that can only be black. Silver plastic trim breaks up the monotony slightly but the lowest trim of the RAV4 Hybrid feels pretty dismal. Stepping up to the XLE grade opens up the option for black or grey fabric with minimal other changes to the cabin. XSE grades get Toyota's SofTex seats (fake leather) finished in black with blue strips. If you opt for the top Limited grade, the SofTex seats can be finished in black, grey, or nutmeg. Our tester had the Nutmeg interior, which made the cabin feel slightly more upscale.

RAV4 Hybrid Trunk and Cargo Space

Where hybrids generally lose out to their standard counterparts is in the storage of their batteries, usually resulting in compromised cargo-carrying ability. This is not the case with the RAV4 Hybrid, though, as it retains the 37.6 cubic feet of storage capacity behind the rear seats as the non-hybrid model - enough for a whole weekend getaway's worth of family luggage. The rear seats fold almost completely flat in a 60/40 split to increase this volume to a capacious 69.8 cubic feet, while the available hands-free power liftgate available on our Limited test unit makes loaded large items when your hands are full an easy task.

Small-item storage is equally as joyous with cupholders front and rear, in-dash storage trays, a large center console storage bin with a tray, a large glovebox, and four bottle holders - one in each sizable door pocket.

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Maximum Cargo Space Carbuzz
2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Trunk Space Carbuzz
2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Rear Passenger Seats Down Carbuzz

RAV4 Hybrid Infotainment and Features

Features

While paring back to four trim offerings in Hybrid guise, the RAV4 still manages to achieve the same spread of features as the regular lineup, ranging from spartan on the LE to extensively equipped on the Limited. The Limited Hybrid even gets the option of model-specific items like adaptive front lighting, while from the XSE, a panoramic sunroof is available in place of the regular sunroof available from the XLE. Lower down in the range, the LE gets manual climate control while all other trims receive dual-zone automatic systems. A reverse camera is standard, while a 360-degree camera is optionally available on the Limited. An eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat is equipped from the XLE, while heated front seats are standard from the XSE with ventilation and heated rear optional on the Limited. Driver assistance is a key focal point on the RAV4 Hybrid, with all trims equipped with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0), enabling adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking.

Infotainment

LE and XLE grades make do with a tiny seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with four speakers that at least features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Alexa integration. You'll have to step up to the XSE grade to get the larger eight-inch screen, which is an improvement but still not the largest in this segment. The eight-inch screen can also be added on the XLE grade along with a six-speaker audio system or optional 11-speaker JBL system. Built-in navigation comes standard on Limited grades and optional on XSE grades but with CarPlay and Android Auto on hand, we wouldn't spend extra on Toyota's system.

RAV4 Hybrid Problems and Reliability

2020 has been a good year so far for the RAV4, with no recalls at the time of writing, although a single recall affected 2019 models that may be at the risk of losing stability control and brake assist systems. Toyota's penchant for reliability is backed up by a comprehensive warranty package, with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, an eight-year/100,000-mile hybrid component warranty, and a battery warranty spanning 10 years/150,000 miles.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Hybrid/Electric Components:
    8 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    2 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 25,000 Miles

RAV4 Hybrid Safety

With a broad array of safety features on all trims, it should come as no surprise that with review of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, it received exemplary safety ratings: a full five stars from the NHTSA while the IIHS gave the RAV4 range in its entirety a 2019 Top Safety Pick + award, the institution's top honor.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

Base models may cut back on the comfort, but they don't compromise on safety. Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard across all trims, with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, lane departure warning and prevention, adaptive cruise control, and road sign recognition. This supplements the standard safety arsenal of ABS, EBD, stability control, and eight airbags (dual front, front side, side curtain, and dual front knee). Front and rear park sensors, as well as a surround-view camera, are available on upper trims, with blind spot monitoring available from even the base LE.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid a good car?

After our week-long test drive of the RAV4 Hybrid, we can definitely say that nearly half a million people did not mess up on their car purchase last year. This latest RAV4 is absolutely deserving of its status as the best-selling passenger vehicle in the US and the hybrid version is even better than the standard car. The RAV4 Hybrid feels smoother, quieter, and faster than the gas-engined model while only costing slightly more. With the massive savings in fuel, opting for the hybrid seems like a no brainer.

There are larger alternatives like the Honda CR-V and more sporty options like the Mazda CX-5, but as an all-rounder with stellar fuel economy, the RAV4 Hybrid is tough to beat. Wrap it up with Toyota's enviable track record for reliability and the RAV4 Hybrid becomes easy to recommend.

🚘What's the Price of the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid?

Toyota has done a bang-up job of keeping the RAV4 Hybrid's pricing in line with the regular offering, with the base LE Hybrid going for sale at only $850 more than the AWD version of the regular model. It commands an asking price of $28,100 while the XLE Hybrid remains under the 30k barrier at $29,395. Second from the top, the XSE Hybrid has an MSRP of $34,050, while the range-topping Limited Hybrid we tested will set you back $36,630 excluding options, taxes, licensing, and a $1,120 delivery and processing fee..

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Models

Four configurations make up the RAV4 Hybrid lineup: LE, XLE, XSE, and the range-topping Limited. All make use of the same electronic all-wheel-drive system with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors generating a combined 219 hp, channeled via a CVT automatic transmission.

The base LE is equipped with basic features: 17-inch alloy wheels, LED reflector headlights, dual-zone climate control, manual seat adjustment, cloth upholstery, remote keyless entry, and a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Amazon Alexa integration, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and six speakers. The base model also features the TSS 2.0 suite of collision avoidance features.

XLE models step up with LED projector headlights, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, five USB ports, and greater options availability.

In addition to bespoke grille styling and 18-inch alloy wheels, XSE models also receive two-tone paint jobs, a sport-tuned suspension, a power sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, SofTex trimmed seats, heated front seats, a leather steering wheel, upgraded driver display, a larger eight-inch infotainment display, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The top-spec Limited gains unique interior trim options, onboard navigation, a premium JBL 11-speaker sound system, front and rear parking sensors, and greater feature availability to items like a bird's eye view camera, ventilated front seats, and heated rears.

See All 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Despite a good spread of features across four trims, Toyota still allows further customization through standalone options and packages.

The base LE doesn't get access to any packages, but as a standalone option, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert will cost you $590. The XLE Hybrid makes up for scant standard specification with a number of packages, including the $925 XLE Cold Weather Package with heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and rain-sensing windshield wipers with a de-icing function. A height-adjustable power liftgate and a power tilt-and-slide sunroof are included in the $1,265 Convenience Package, which can be paired with Audio Plus package for $2,255 to also include the upgraded eight-inch touchscreen infotainment suite.

Navigation and an 11-speaker JBL sound system are available on the XSE for $1,620, which is a necessity if you wish to include the XSE Technology Package (bundled together at $2,260), adding front and rear park sensors, automated park assist, and wireless device charging.

The top-spec limited gets access to the same Technology Package ($1,025), heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats for $1,015 as part of a Cold Weather Package, and a Panoramic moonroof that requires the Technology package. Adaptive headlights are available with the Technology package for $1,440 as an option exclusive to the Limited Hybrid.

🚗What Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Model Should I Buy?

We very much enjoyed our feature-packed Limited grade test vehicle but its as-test price of $40,899 will be a tough pill for most buyers to swallow. So if you want a well-equipped RAV4 Hybrid but don't want to spend entry-level luxury prices, we recommend the XSE grade. The XSE looks sportier than our Limited tester with its black wheels and black roof but also costs about $2,000 less at $34,050. Even if you load it up with the Cold Weather and Technology Packages, Navigation, JBL Audio, and the panoramic roof, you come in at $36,885, well below the $40,000 mark.

Check out other Toyota RAV4 Styles

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Comparisons

Toyota RAV4 Toyota
Honda CR-V Hybrid Honda North America
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid219 hp41/38 mpg$28,350
Toyota RAV4 203 hp26/35 mpg$25,950
Honda CR-V Hybrid 212 hp40/35 mpg$27,850

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs Toyota RAV4

The decision between a hybrid and conventional version of a car normally comes down to cost, as hybrids are normally vastly more expensive and less powerful than their traditional variants. The RAV4 bucks the trend, though, providing 16 hp more than the regular RAV4 thanks to an electrified rear axle. This makes it quicker as well, and yet somehow, it achieves combined fuel economy estimates of 10 mpg better than the FWD gas-powered RAV4. The Hybrid mirrors several trims from within the standard lineup, so the spread of equipment and the specification levels are nearly identical, and thanks to some clever packaging, storage volumes remain identical, too. The deal-maker or breaker, in this case, is price, and that's where Toyota has played it smart. Just $850 separates the base LE Hybrid from its all-wheel-drive combustion counterpart, and considering the EPA estimates an annual fuel saving equating to $350 - meaning the RAV4 Hybrid pays for itself in a little more than two years of ownership. The Hybrid gets our pick.

See Toyota RAV4 Review

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs Honda CR-V Hybrid

Along with an all-new Honda CR-V for 2020, the Japanese brand is introducing a hybrid version to do battle with the RAV4 Hybrid. While the Honda isn't available for purchase at the time of writing, it looks to be spoiling for a fight thanks to a hybrid powertrain inherited from the venerable Honda Accord Hybrid. That means from a 2.0-liter engine and electric motors, the CR-V Hybrid produces a combined 212 hp to the RAV4 Hybrid's 219 hp, making it more powerful than base CR-Vs as well. Like the RAV4 Hybrid, the CR-V gets a slew of standard safety features, and like the RAV4, it gets full smartphone integration. The similarities continue as the CR-V Hybrid loses nothing in the way of cargo volume, despite hybrid components, meaning it bests the RAV4 Hybrid with just shy of 40 cubic feet. We expect the Honda to have slightly better interior materials, though, and we expect the CR-V to return almost identical fuel economy estimates - the EPA is yet to publish results. Pricing will likely be similar to the Toyota RAV4 Hybrids cost as well, which means the choice between the two will be tough. We'd advise you to hold off on buying a RAV4 Hybrid until such time as the CR-V arrives, you might just be disappointed if you don't.

See Honda CR-V Hybrid Review

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Popular Comparisons

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Video Review

Check out some informative Toyota RAV4 Hybrid video reviews below.

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