What is it?
Plug-in hybrids such as this new Toyota RAV4 are an interesting phenomenon.
With the ability to run for short periods of time on electricity alone you can see, on the one hand, how they might appeal as a safe, considered stepping stone in the journey from petrol power to a bonafide EV. On the other, they could just be nothing more than a cynical means of slashing your company car tax obligations - and one that’s a mere legislation change away from losing that prime positioning, too. But whatever your thoughts on the moral worth of these potential Cayman Island cars might be, this latest RAV4 PHEV is a pretty impressive example of the breed.
Mechanically speaking, it’s not too dissimilar to the standard Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. There’s a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine up front that’s mated to an electric motor, and which together drive the front wheels through an e-CVT. At the rear axle, there’s a second, smaller electric motor that lends the Toyota all-wheel-drive capability. And, unsurprisingly, it’s based on the Japanese firm’s TGA-K architecture.
Of course, there are some key differences. The petrol engine now develops 182bhp instead of 176bhp; and the front electric motor’s output has been upped from the 118bhp figure it makes in the regular RAV4 Hybrid, to 180bhp here. The rear motor still produces 54bhp, but combined they lend the RAV4 PHEV a system output of 302bhp - making it the most powerful model in the range by a pretty hefty margin.
The lithium-ion drive battery is obviously larger, too. It has a gross capacity of 18.1kWh - pretty beefy by current PHEV standards - and is mounted beneath the floor to lower the car’s centre of gravity. Toyota claims a WLTP-certified range of 46 miles (so it slots into that desirable 6% BiK bracket), while a full charge can be delivered in 2.5 hours from a dedicated wallbox.