Drive­way Toy­ota’s Hy­brid has the edge

Cockburn Gazette - - DRIVE WAY -

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.

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