The Toyota RAV4 PHEV is kind of car that might reaffirm your faith in the idea of the plug-in hybrid car, if by any chance an earlier encounter with a different one had disappointed. With a really useful electric range and good underlying fuel efficiency, it delivers on the potential of the technology in a way in which rivals, for different reasons, can struggle and fail to do. It has surprisingly strong performance, decent drivability, and an all-round freedom from any practicality compromises. And in terms of its chassis tuning, it doesn’t go off on a wild goose chase in search of particular driver appeal, but instead just presents really versatile, comfortable, rounded ride and handling, precisely as a mid-sized family SUV should.
This car gives you hope for the PHEV concept not as a one-dimensional gimmick, tax dodge or lab-test emissions cheat, but as a valid route to using less fossil fuel as part of your daily motoring. Put simply, that’s because when the RAV4 PHEV is running electrically, it can carry on doing so for what feels like a more meaningful distance than you get with many PHEV alternatives; and when it isn’t, this is still a gratifyingly frugal car for its class.
There will be people for whom a cheaper diesel SUV would still make better financial sense, clearly; and others who might perhaps expect more desirability, luxury appeal or dynamic spice for their £50k. But there should be plenty who can see the sense in paying a premium for a car of such broad and unqualified capabilities as this.