The U.S. simply can’t get enough crossovers. It’s the industry’s largest segment, and automakers are responding to demand with new and updated products at an increasingly feverish pace. Such is the case for Toyota and its hugely popular compact SUV, the RAV4.
Currently in its fourth generation, the RAV4 receives a mid-cycle update for the 2016 model year. Styling tweaks, renewed infotainment equipment, the latest suite of safety technology, and a new sporty SE trim level are all on the menu, but the biggest news by far is the addition of a hybrid drivetrain.
Toyota fine-tuned the lines front to back, with the most obvious changes seen in the front fascia. New styling is present in every panel from the hood line down, with a raised nose, reshaped bumper, and a higher stance. The headlights are now slimmer, as is the upper grille. The lower grille is larger and wraps around to lend a feeling of increased width.
The raised nose continues into a high beltline in the vehicle’s profile. The fenders and rocker moldings are altered, and roof rails are now standard on all trim levels.
In the rear, the tail lights were reshaped to complement the high beltline and raised stance, while the bumper replaces black plastic molding with body-colored panels. The backup lights are now in the lower corners of the bumper, and a rear skid plate is standard. Up top is a shark fin antenna.
Wheel options include five different styles depending on trim level, and include 17-inch steel units, 17-inch alloys, and 18-inch alloys.
The RAV4 Hybrid’s cabin has slightly reduced cargo room from the non-hybrid model, but still manages to maintain its essential crossover practicality with the addition of a smooth, easy-sliding ramp that guides cargo over the rear-mounted battery pack. Rear access is enhanced thanks to a height adjustable power liftgate with jam protection. This feature is standard on the XLE trim level and above, and offers six settings selectable from the driver’s seat.
A 6.1-inch touchscreen is standard, while a high-definition 6.1-inch touchscreen and 7-inch touchscreen are optional. Navigation is available on all trim levels. Buyers can get Integrated Navigation at the higher trims, while lower trims are offered with Scout GPS Link app functionality. The Scout GPS Link app uses your smartphone to send navigation, traffic info, and more to the RAV4’s infotainment system. It’s controllable via voice recognition and the multi-function steering wheel.
Other options include Smart Key, the Home Link garage opener, and SiriusXM radio with a complimentary three-month trial subscription.
In total, there are four infotainment systems to choose from. Entry-level equipment includes AM/FM/CD, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, a USB 2.0 port, auxiliary mini-jack port, voice recognition, six-speaker audio, and Siri Eyes Free. At the other end is the Premium Entune audio system, which includes 11 speakers in seven locations, 576 watts of power, eight channels, a Hi8 amplifier, two 6.69-inch subwoofers in the front, and a single 7.48-inch subwoofer in the rear. The speakers are from JBL, and use GreenEdge technology for low weight and low energy consumption – particularly important for the hybrid.
Pricing starts at $28,370.