Driveway Toyota’s Hybrid has the edge
THE big news when the new Toyota RAV4 lobbed in Australia recently was the choice of a hybrid powertrain.
But how much difference does the addition of an electric motor really make?
Fortunately, we had access to the two most expensive variants in the new RAV4 stable – the allwheel-drive Cruiser Hybrid and the Edge – so we decided to pit them headto-head.
The Edge has a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre fourcylinder petrol engine, while the Hybrid has the same-sized petrol unit but also an additional electric motor.
There are additional differences between the two beyond just what’s providing the power.
The Cruiser Hybrid has a CVT and electric AWD system, while the Edge has a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission and mechanical AWD system.
It also gets dynamic torque vectoring, hill descent control and multi-terrain drive modes with different settings for mud/ sand, rock/dirt and snow.
There are also some design flourishes to give it a bit more of a rugged look, such as its own front and rear bumpers, wheel arch mouldings, grille and fog lamp surrounds, a front skid plate, unique 19-inch alloy design and more.
As an aside, the Edge is friendly runs up and down the freeway in light traffic.
Driving in almost identical conditions, the Hybrid returned 6.0L/100km, a significant saving.
And it’s really not much slower than the Edge; Toyota takes great pride in pointing out the hybrid is both the most frugal AND powerful option in the lineup, and with the extra hybrid gear only adding about 50kg, it’s not weighed down much at all.
As they usually are, the CVT is noticeable under throttle load and groans its displeasure, plus the brakes – which help regenerate the battery – are discernibly more touchy than the Edge’s.
However, the Edge is also flawed. It may be the driver’s car out of the bunch and the platform is impressively rigid and flat in corners. But let’s be real here: who's buying a RAV4 because they love sporty driving?
And the Edge also gets the extra off-road gear but who’s buying a RAV4 because they love going to seriously hard-to-reach places?
Verdict: The Edge could be the pick for people who rack up the country kilometres and it’s undoubtedly the nicer vehicle to drive but not by a big enough a margin to offset the Cruiser Hybrid’s far better fuel economy and lower purchase price. Hybrid wins, especially if you’re an urban dweller.