The RAV4 has emerged as one of the most versatile SUVs in Toyota‘s vehicle arsenal. The RAV4 has a foundation that can be suited for a wide variety of uses including camping as we proved in a prior RAV4 related test and even in the plug-in realm with the recently launched RAV4 Prime. But what if your a buyer that’s looking for something that can sip fuel instead and also deliver decent amounts of comfort for the money? Toyota may have just the solution for you with the RAV4 Hybrid Limited. But does this particular flavor of RAV4 go far enough to blend the best of green hybrid motoring with some of the creature comforts that you expect in a equipment packed SUV offering?
Chrome and Stylish Black Paint Define RAV4 Limited Exterior
The 2020 RAV4 Limited Hybrid is the range topping member of the RAV4 Hybrid family, and it brings its own interpretation of modern styling to the RAV4. The core design here has not changed too radically much from the rest of the family but our Midnight Black hued example (it looks blue from some angles) still manages to provide a few luxury focused touches. The front grille features a mesh pattern with the LED tinged headlights and the blue hued Toyota logo working together with the front bumper to produce a distinctly aggressive face.
The side profile is reminiscent of other Toyota offerings and while it may not be quite as athletic as other SUV entries in its segment, the RAV4 still does a good job blending various sporty elements together and the running boards were a welcome addition too. Our tester also came equipped with 18-inch chrome alloy wheels for an extra pinch of street presence The rear styling here remains a weak point for the RAV4 with the styling on our Limited grade example still looking a bit too jumbled for our tastes. Thankfully, the taillights remain the lone bright spot back there and look very sporty when viewed from certain angles.
Buyers looking for more substance will be happy with the XSE model which is the sportiest trim in the hybrid model lineup. When compared against some of its rivals, the RAV4 Limited is a welcome step up from the Mitsubishi Outlander hybrid as well as the hybridized Honda CR-V. However, the Ford Escape Hybrid does have better front end styling and it also manages to look sportier as well.
RAV4 Limited Interior Gets High Marks For Comfort
Slip inside the RAV4 Limited Hybrid and you immediately discover that the space has a very modern look to it with high quality plastics and soft touch materials scattered throughout the cabin. Toyota’s notoriously fake wood accent pieces are absent here, but that also means that genuine leather trim is also not a part of the package either. Instead, occupants get to sit on thrones covered in Toyota’s SofTex faux leather. While it may lack the instant authenticity that cow sourced hide provides, the faux leather chairs were very comfortable places to spend time in and did allow us to stretch out and relax.
The second row also has commendable amounts of room though taller adults may find themselves pinched when going on longer road tris with the RAV. As is often the case with the RAV4, the cabin as a whole is very versatile and offers plenty of storage spaces and cubbies for buyers to store their stuff. That includes a cool ledge area that runs along the passenger side of the dashboard as well as other nooks and crannies scattered throughout. The rear cargo area is also capable of swallowing an impressive amount of stuff, but cold Michigan temperatures kept our jaunts to mostly around town this time around.
Technology Makes A Stronger Statement This Time Around
Unlike lower grade RAV4 models, the Limited trim is where the RAV4 is allowed to boast all of its technological tricks and our tester certainly impressed with the amount of stuff it had on hand. For example, a color heads up display is standard on the Limited, while a rear camera mirror helps deliver enhanced levels of visibility especially in less than inclement weather. Audiophiles will love the 11-speaker JBL premium sound system which is paired to an 8.0 inch touchscreen infotainment system (a 7.0 inch screen adorns lesser models) that’s compatible with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and even Amazon Alexa too.
These features allow the RAV4 to be more in sync with the demands of young buyers especially those that are looking for a SUV that can do the job while still allowing them to be connected with the digital world around them.
Quicker Acceleration Highlights Otherwise Mundane Driving Experience
Performance for all RAV4 Hybrid models comes from a 2.5 liter four cylinder engine that’s mated to two electric motors. The combined system makes 219 horsepower and all-wheel drive is standard with an electric motor driving the rear wheels while the other electric motor and the gasoline engine drives the front wheels. The extra vigor created by the electric motors actually helps the hybrid be quicker to 60 mph than the standard RAV4 with our tester making the sprint to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds versus the 8.0 second flat time needed by the non hybrid RAV4.
A CVT is the sole transmission available here and it does a good job of allowing the driver to access the bulk of this extra pep especially when accelerating from stoplights. When it’s not delivering enhanced acceleration, the hybrid also excels in fuel economy with our tester capable of achieving 41 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the freeway. That’s much more efficient than the standard RAV4 especially when you mix in the 40 mpg figure in combined driving.
But while the engine is certainly the star of the show, the main problem here is that the rest of the driving experience is pretty mundane. The suspension is soft like a cloud but does little to transmit information to the over boosted steering on what the front wheels are doing. Handling and braking are commendable, but the RAV4 will never be mistaken for a cornering champ (that’s the Supra’s job.)
Pricing for the 2020 RAV4 Hybrid lineup covers a wide range of budgets with a base LE model starting at $28,500. As you go up the ladder, you will encounter the volume focused $29,975 XLE Hybrid as well as the volume focused $32,500 XLE Premium Hybrid. Meanwhile the $34,450 XSE variant is a sporty detour for green buyers and comes with slightly more dynamic exterior styling as well as a sport focused interior.
But for buyers that choose to go all in with the Limited model, they will be greeted with a $37,030 base price. Our lightly optioned example arrived with both the $1,015 Limited Grade Weather Package and the $1,025 Limited Grade Advanced Technology Package which comes on top of the other assorted optional goodies and helped push the final sticker to $41,235 which includes the $1,120 destination fee.
This pricing is among the highest in the segment and is noticeably more expensive than the Ford Escape Titanium which forces buyers to choose all-wheel drive as an optional extra versus having it standard. The $36,350 Honda CR-V Touring Hybrid also has a lower base price than the Toyota and it still manages to stay under $40,000 when comparably equipped.
The 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is still a very capable SUV for consumers especially when certain trim levels are put into the equation. If we were to buy one for ourselves, we would go for a lower tier XLE or XLE Premium model. These two models offer an impressive array of equipment but still retain the core standard must haves that define other hybrid models at a more approachable pricing point.
The Limited model is a top tier showcase of what the RAV4 is capable of when allowed to be equipped with its full arsenal of technology and equipment but it takes more than an arsenal of features to win over customers. It also takes value focused pricing, and the RAV4 Hybrid in this trim is too pricey when compared to rivals in a green segment that’s rapidly becoming a hotly contested battleground in the face of tightening fuel economy and environmental regulations.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.