Toyota PH has certainly done its part in educating Filipinos about electrified vehicles. But it still feels a little disconcerting to know that they are slowly phasing out the internal combustion engine and are offering hybrid-only variants of popular models like the RAV4.
Are we really ready? Well, ready or not, I picked up the top-of-the-line variant to admire the RAV4 (always been a fan) and to know what it feels like to drive a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) for a week.
The fifth-generation model is the boxiest version yet. Its angular stylings begin on the outside and go all the way in. It has a scowling resting face, which is odd considering it is a clean and green vehicle, but I like that it immediately gives it a distinct look, dare I say, personality.
It has a rugged grille with a metallic finish, black front/rear bumpers with front/rear underbody garnishes, body cladding, and square wheel wells. These features contribute to this compact SUV’s machismo which is to say it does not have a soft angle. I am into it. I am just unsure if that appeals to all buyers.
LED lighting is standard. The headlamps come with an auto-leveling function and an Automatic High Beam feature. At the rear are dual exhaust tailpipes, a rear roof spoiler, and a shark’s fin antenna. Only this variant comes with a moon roof.
The design stays true to the theme, front to back and side to side. Its strapping exterior is perfect on the compact body, and while the local version only offers a front-wheel-drive layout, it has the looks of a more capable vehicle.
Toyotas had one of the first ‘smart’ keys I can recall. If you have it in your person (pocket or bag), reach for the door, and it unlocks. To lock, swipe the stripe on the handle.
Sharp-cornered surfaces continue inside, but at least the ones here are padded and soft to the touch. The dashboard is largely flat, which is good for visibility. Plus, power-adjustable seats and the tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel make it easy to get into a commanding driving position.
There is leather upholstery with white trim on the seats, center console, door panels, and multi-function steering wheel (which has just the right thickness). Chrome highlights break the monotony of the black cockpit, and I love how the storage spaces come with a grippy bed to ensure loose items don’t get tossed around.
To stay consistent with the rugged look, it comes with big digital aircon knobs with a rubber grip so you can adjust it with the flick of the wrist. Labels and buttons are sizable and are easy to read and press. It has heated seats we’ll never use, and unfortunately, there is no cooling function.
It has two seven-inch screens (instrument panel and infotainment system). The latter comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity (one port in front, two at the rear). Other amenities are a dual climate control system and six speakers.
Toyota does a great job of using premium material on the rough-and-tough cabin layout. The result is a sophisticated cabin with modern amenities and niceties without losing the essence of the RAV4’s image. And that large moon roof is perfect during night drives.
The 2.5-liter engine in the RAV4 HEV has two variable valve timing systems, one for the intake and the other for the exhaust. It gets help from an electric motor that brings the total system output to 218 PS and 221 Nm of torque. Power goes to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission. I expected better, but I only picked up 15.9 km/l over seven days.
Eco mode isn’t as slow as I expected, although the desire to keep it running on EV mode kept my throttle feet light. It has oomph for overtaking maneuvers and can climb to 100 km/h without straining the engine.
Steering feedback is true to size and is very engaging. The suspension is terrific and delivers exciting handling without compromising comfort.
Control around corners is very good and keeps body roll at a minimum.
Toyota Safety Sense comes standard, which means you get a high level of driver-assistance systems like Pre-Collision System, Automatic High Beam, Lane Tracing Assist, Lane Departure Alert, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. That is all on top of the Blind Spot Monitor and a panoramic view monitor.
At P2.5 million, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 LTD HEV is expensive. But if you want to be hip to the ‘green’ movement (and save a few pesos at the pump) and like high-tech safety features, very few compact SUVs put a package as good as the 2022 Toyota RAV4 LTD HEV - worth every centavo.