We drove the 2022 model to find out.
When a company builds the best-selling non-pickup truck in the United States, there's little reason to give it a major update. That's why the 2022 Toyota RAV4 arrived sporting some minor changes on its 25th anniversary year. The list of changes included a new Calvary Blue color option, new wheel colors, upgraded headlights and LED fog lights on upper trims, LED interior lights, a locking glovebox, and other small content updates. Like we said, nothing major.
If you currently own a 2021 RAV4, there's no reason to rush out and purchase a 2022 model, especially given the current market. But if you are in need of a new car, should you get the 2022 RAV4 now, or wait for the 2023 model? The 2023 RAV4 doesn't boast any world-changing updates, but the differences are more noticeable than last year's additions. After spending a week in a 2022 RAV4 Hybrid, we think we have the answer.
Toyota sent us an XSE Hybrid, the sportiest and second-most expensive RAV4 Hybrid trim available. The exterior updates for 2022, however minor, culminate in a more premium-looking product, especially in the new Cavalry Blue color (a former TRD Pro-exclusive hue). We loved how the pale blue contrasted with the black roof and black wheels. This is a great combination to help the RAV4 stand out without drawing the same attention as Toyota's outgoing Blue Flare. Stepping above the XSE to the Limited trim adds more available features, but it looks less aggressive and costs more.
Inside, the changes for 2022 were far less impressive. The RAV4's cabin is simple and usable, though it's far from the most premium interior available in this segment. We enjoyed the XSE's black seats with blue stitching, which matched perfectly with the exterior colors. Spending a week with Toyota's last-generation infotainment system reminded us of how good the company's latest Toyota Connected infotainment is. Next year's RAV4 will get this upgraded tech, which includes wireless CarPlay and Android Auto.
Buyers will also get a larger screen in 2023. The 2022's eight-inch screen will be standard (rather than the current seven-inch unit) with upper trims receiving a new 10.5-inch display. All 2023 models gain at least a seven-inch gauge cluster screen with the higher-end models upping it to a 12.3-inch digital setup. These changes alone are worth waiting for.
It doesn't matter if you pull the trigger this year or wait until 2023, the RAV4 Hybrid is the model we recommend. Toyota's 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine sounds coarse when mated to the gas model's eight-speed automatic transmission, and it only produces 203 horsepower while yielding a combined 30 mpg (29 mpg with AWD). By comparison, the RAV4 Hybrid's CVT is far smoother and quieter under normal operation. It produces more power too, with 219 hp while getting a combined 40 mpg with standard AWD. Toyota's hybrid price premium ranges from $1,150 on upper trims to $2,550 on lower ones, but with the added power and improved fuel economy, we think it's worth it no matter what.
For 2023, Toyota will add a new trim level called the RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition. This is an exciting addition because it adds many of the styling elements from the TRD Off-Road, but bundles them with the hybrid drivetrain. No pricing is available yet, but we love how the Woodland Edition looks. It borrows the bronze wheels from the Highlander Bronze Edition, which can be paired with Midnight Black Metallic (pictured below), the same Cavalry Blue as our test color, and a white called Ice Cap.
Under the skin, the Woodland Edition is beefed up a bit with TRD-tuned suspension plus Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires. There's no additional ground clearance, but we wouldn't be afraid to take it to a campsite. Though we enjoyed our time in the 2022 RAV4 XSE Hybrid, we'd wait for the upcoming 2023 models and the rugged Woodland Edition.