The 2016 Toyota RAV4 benefits this year from a mild freshening inside and out. Most of the attention went toward the interior, evidently in response to customer comments. The current-generation model was introduced for the 2013 model year and it offers two rows of seating (not three) for five people.
Also new is the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid model. EPA-rated at 33 mpg Combined, the RAV4 Hybrid is the only small SUV currently available with a gas-electric powertrain.
Also new is the 2016 Toyota RAV4 SE, the sportiest model, which uses the same engine but adds a sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Built on a small front-wheel-drive passenger-car foundation, the RAV4 competes with the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Subaru Forester and other compact crossovers. Roomier than some rivals, the RAV4 provides a touch of driving pleasure.
All-wheel drive is an option, in place of the standard front-wheel drive.
A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 176 horsepower comes standard, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with a sport-shift mode. The RAV4 can reach 60 mph in less than nine seconds. That’s sluggish performance (and a V6 is not available). Fuel-economy estimates are below average. Front-wheel-drive models are EPA-rated at 23/30 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive lowers each estimate by 1 mpg.
The new RAV4 Hybrid is more powerful and delivers an EPA-rated at 34/31 mpg City/Highway. At very low speeds, it can run in electric-only mode. Using a 154-horsepower version of the 2.5-liter engine coupled with the latest generation of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system, the RAV4 Hybrid delivers a total combined output of 194 horsepower. All-wheel drive is standard on the Hybrid, with a separate electric motor driving the rear wheels.
Not only has the RAV4 earned some decent crash-test ratings, it’s added new active-safety systems for 2016. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a Top Safety Pick +. While earning a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the RAV4 got only four stars in frontal-crash and rollover testing.
New for 2016 is Toyota’s Safety System. Standard on the 2016 RAV4 Limited, it includes Forward Collision Warning with automatic braking, Lane Departure Alert, adaptive cruise control, a pedestrian pre-collision system, and automatic high beams. A new four-camera Bird’s Eye View Monitor gives a 360-degree view surrounding the car.