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Toyota tests the RAV 4 Plug In Hybrid waters. We drive it

Having successfully dipped its RAV4 toe in the Hybrid waters with the GX Hybrid last year, and then the AWD Hybrid E-Four earlier this year, Toyota SA is now testing the the RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid with a view to putting it on sale soon.

The company is running a small test fleet of RAV4 PHEVs, one of which we drove, albeit briefly this week. Its first plugin hybrid, RAV4 PHEV is the second phase of Toyota SA’s New Energy Vehicle roll-out plan, following on a growing conventional hybrid range and ahead of a future full EV push.

Toyota RAV4

All the EV plusses without the range anxiety

The RAV4 Plug-In offers the power and clean efficiency of a full EV without any range anxiety or charging worries. A PHEV gives all the self-charging, petrol engine back-up and extended range benefits of a traditional full-hybrid vehicle, with the additional performance and pure EV driving mode of a full battery electric vehicle.

RAV4 Plug-In gets a 136 kW 227 Nm dual VVT-i DOHC 2.5-litre petrol engine paired with a larger EV battery and two electric motors. One 4th Generation Toyota Hybrid motor drives each axle for all wheel drive in a class-leading combination of power and efficiency.

Fired by a 18.1 kW lithium-Ion battery sitting under the cabin, the front and rear electric motors add a respective additional 134 kW and 40 kW for an impressive 225 kW total output. Torque is also abundant thanks to an additional 270 and 121 Nm of electrical twist over and above those 227 petrol Newton-metres.

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RAV4 Plug In blends petrol and electric for AWD

Using the same electric architecture as the ‘conventional’ RAV 4 E-Four hybrid, a CVT transmission blends petrol-electric front wheel drive, aided and abetted by electric only rear drive. The car Intelligently switches between all and front drive depending on conditions. A dedicated Trail Mode increases rear axle torque split.

A default EV mode prioritises electric-only drive for up to 80 km on electric power only. EV mode Acceleration is impressive at zero fuel consumption. HV mode allows the driver to select traditional Toyota petrol electric Hybrid driving. The car also automatically switches to HV mode should the battery drop below minimum EV only levels.

This allows the RAV4 Plug-In to keep on driving when a conventional EV would have to stop. This allows for an HV mode driving range of beyond 800 km. An Auto EV/HV mode allows the system to switch between the two, based on the required acceleration level. The petrol engine only fires up on demand, before returning to electric operation as soon as plausible.

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Plug In Charging Mode gives 80 km EV range

A Charging Mode uses the petrol engine to recharge the battery pack if required. Wall charging is via a Mode 2 240V home charging cable, which takes between 7 and 9 hours. A separate Mode 3 cable allows fast station DC charging in 2.5 hours using a 32A, 6.6 kW charger.

A chrome edged bumper grille sets RAV4 Plug-In apart alongside other garnish and neat machined 19-inch ‘snowflake’ alloy wheels. The cool blue lit GX-R spec cabin gets red accents, and a unique dials showing battery state rather than a tacho. Flagship trim includes premium, 9-speaker JBL sound and infotainment with CarPlay, Auto and the rest,

There’s a quality feel to the Toyota RAV 4 Plug-In. Its more EV than hybrid to drive with that immediate torque and flat, sturdy, and silent electric power delivery. We never drove far enough to make a dent on the yellow battery graphic on the screen.

Toyota RAV4

Do you drove more than 80 km a day?

In truth, who will ever drive more than 80 km on a daily commute? If you fit that metric, then you will hardly ever get to use that latent petrol in the tank. And if you do, that bigger battery and Toyota’s proven hybrid get up has the potential to travel further than 800 km on that regular tank of gas.

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