By Asian Journal Auto Editor

The 2020 RAV4, is the models fifth-generation redesign, and for the new model years receives edgier styling with cues from the Tacoma and 4Runner SUVs. There is a bolder, distinctive front end and a wonderful contrasting black roof along with black outlined wheel arches. Blue tinged badges on their front-quarter panels and tailgate denote the hybrid model. Black finished 18 -inch wheels and silver sky metallic paint presented our tester in a very good light. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid also has a redesigned interior design, with durable finishes, and roomy, well thought out cabin.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter I-4 paired with a CVT, (Continuously variable Transmission) while an electric motor located in the rear drives just the back wheels, giving the RAV4 Hybrid all-wheel drive capability Combined output for the two systems is 219 hp 206 lb-ft, 13 more horsepower and 22 more lb-ft of torque than the gas engined model. The RAV4 Hybrid starts off with the LE AWD model at $32,350- and tops out at $42,790 for the fully loaded Limited AWD version. We tested a mid-range 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid XLE AWD tester ($35,350) that came with LED headlights; 60/40-split-folding and reclining rear seats; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; a six-speaker sound system; and Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 package of safety aids.  The XLE also gets a push-button start, proximity entry, power liftgate; and an eight-inch infotainment display screen. Plus a host of other goodies. Our XLE tester came with options, including: Technology Package ($6,220).  including  SofTex Leather Seating Surfaces Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wireless Charging, Intelligent Clearance Sonar, Blind Spot Monitoring with RCTA and RCTB, LED Fog, Lamps, Digital Display Rear view Mirror with Homelink, Anti‐Theft System, works with Android Auto, Safety Connect ‐ Automatic Collision Notification, and Stolen Vehicle Locator.

Interior wise, the RAV4 is comfortable and versatile with a nice hip point for easy entry, exit and wide doors. The RAV4 cabin offers plenty of room with a plethora of padded soft-touch surfaces where there are human occupant contact points and hard plastics in less obtrusive areas. The seats are very comfortable, and the ergonomics spot on in the front cabin.  Raised blue stitching detail on the seats and dash adds a touch of class. There is a good view of the road and the big eight-inch touchscreen is in the middle of the dash. All the climate and audio controls are easy to use with big knobs and buttons that even if gloved hands can use. The neat silver and black finish in the interior are also really nice.

Out in the back cabin, there is ample room for three adults at a squeeze, but it will be cramped for three six footers on long trip, however the seatbacks do recline and fold forward, adding some versatility for cargo-hauling. The RAV4 offers up 37 cubic feet of cargo-carrying ability behind the rear seats, and 57 cubic feet with the rear seats almost folded flat. A power liftgate is standard on the XLE.

On the road, the additional electric motor powers the rear wheels in low-traction situations, the all-wheel drive system can direct up to 50 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels. But if the battery is depleted the RAV4 becomes a two wheel drive SUV. When all-wheel drive isn’t needed, the system disconnects to save fuel. The RAV4 Hybrid’s 219 horsepower is 16 more than the non-hybrid model and gives it a little extra oomph, especially on acceleration where you can feel the electric motors instant torque. The RAV4 Hybrid has a couple of modes that can be used for different driving situations. ECO mode is probably the default for city driving, with a good mix of economy and performance, whilst Sport offers quicker acceleration and is good for highway merging, with smoother shifting and throttle responses. The RAV4 offers nice steering and handling qualities with no surprises. The AWD system is good for slippery surfaces and mild trails, but don’t expect 4Runner type off roading abilities. Fuel economy is rated at an impressive City/Highway/Combined L/100km 5.7/6.3/6.0 thanks to Toyota’s excellent hybrid technology.  The ride I have to say is exemplary, smooth, comfortable and car – like.

To sum up, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid offers excellent value for   for money. If you are looking for a spacious hybrid SUV that is fuel economical, comfortable, spacious and cheap to run it will take a lot to beat the RAV4 Hybrid. It comes with Toyota’s reputation for reliability safety features and good resale. Amongst the segment leaders by far and highly recommended.

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid XLE AWD. Priced from $35,350. As tested with options, freight and PDI – $43,516. More info at: