2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid First Drive: Electric Boogaloo

It turns out there is a replacement for displacement, and it comes in the form of electrification. Rather than place a larger engine under the hood of the new Toyota RAV4 crossover SUV, the Japanese giant once again opts to pair the model’s 2.5-liter inline-four-cylinder engine (now running the more efficient Atkinson cycle) with a trio of electric motors (two at the front and one at the rear axle). The all-wheel-drive powertrain is good for 219 horsepower – 16 more than the 2.5-liter inline-four powering the standard model and 25 more than the previous RAV4 Hybrid – and makes the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid the quickest variant of the compact crossover SUV.

Of course, quick is a relative term and the Hybrid’s estimated 7.8-second trot to 60 miles per hour is nothing to write home about. Still, it hits the mile-a-minute mark almost a half second ahead of its less powerful stablemate, and thanks to the immediacy of the electric motors’ torque, it actually feels even quicker than the delta suggests.

A more compact battery pack now lives under the rear seat, rather than the cargo hold, and allows the RAV4 Hybrid to match the available 37.6-cubic-foot cargo capacity of the non-hybrid model, as well as best the prior RAV4 Hybrid’s cargo space by up to 2.0 cubic feet. The rest of the interior is nearly identical to that ...