The RAV4 and RAV4 HEV hold the brands head held high in January. Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – Feb. 1, 2016 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited AWD - $37,057 as driven incl. the $940 D&H Charge offers owners a solid 34/30/32 mpgUS city/highway/combined rating. It has been almost a year since we were afforded the opportunity to drive the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid AWD for the very first time. With the recent 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid and soon to be released 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid battling for the same or similar $s going forward regardless of segment, it is a good time to discuss the RAV4 Hybrids current traits and where it can be improved upon. 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD Exterior The 2016 RAV4 Hybrid received the refreshed exterior styling that the regular RAV4 received. The hood is non-distinct with light features lines looping around the front edge. The central body colored bumper band separates an upper opening slat and central opening that work their way into the new wraparound LED combo headlamps and DRLs. The lower body colored fascia separates the large lower grille opening while working its way into the larger vertical fog lamps. A silver skid plate trim piece toughens its face up a bit. The profile is also somewhat soft. There is no chrome trim daylight opening (DLO) or deep character line but the character line that is there sweeps to the back creating strong rear shoulder haunches Chrome handles do help some as do the body colored trim. What gives the RAV4 Hybrid its tough off-road like look however is the flat wheel arch opening edges and hard plastic lower body cladding surrounding the entire lower edge of the vehicle. The 18” Limited Alloys looked great. Out back, the large high mounted rear spoiler and large sweeping wraparound LED taillamps try and break up the large flat expanse of the hatch. The lower cladding is broken up by a bright lower diffuser/skid plate trim piece. Besides the Electric Storm Blue that our RAV4 Hybrid arrived in, it can be purchased in Super White, Blizzard Pearl (also white), Silver Sky Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Black Sand Pearl, and Galactic Aqua Mica. The Electric blue looks best. 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD Limited Drivetrain The Hybrid does provide slightly better straight-line performance with a more powerful drivetrain but it has to move more weight. Despite Toyota claiming a 1 second advantage for the hybrid, previous review are finding more along the lines of .1 seconds. Meaning nobody will be able to tell the difference between a standard RAV4 Ltd. AWD with its 176 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque 2.5L pushing 3,605 lbs. vs. the RAV4 Hybrid Ltd. and its 194 hp Hybridized 2.5L pushing 3,950 lbs. The hybrid drivetrain is based around what I call a third gen system from the third gen Prius including the NiMH traction pack. The near future will… See conclusions. Like the Prius family, the RAV4 Hybrid includes an ECO mode that softens throttle response and A/C output to improve efficiency. Where the RAV4 Hybrid stands out however is the on the efficiency front. Weather was lousy during the review week with heavy wind, rain, snow, ice, and temps in the high teens to mid-30s. Despite those obstacles, breaking the 40 mpg barrier occurred after approximately 10-miles of canceling out the warmup hit. Multiple 2 miles short trips yielded a much more disappointing 25 to 30 mpg result. The warmup hit is real yet once beyond, the 34/30 rating is vastly underrated. So much so I believe it would take down the higher 31/34 mpg city/highway rated AWD Rogue Hybrid even on the highway! Compared to the Niro, not even close but the Niro is a smaller compact vs small/midsized category of the RAV4, Rogue, or even segment sales leading CR-V. I am not much of an off-roader but I did experience some time in the snow with the RAV4 Hybrids Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel-Drive System with intelligence (AWD-i). I felt the AWD kick in but it was because of the pull, not the transition. Pretty slick imho. 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD Interior I mentioned the upcoming super-efficient Kia Niro hybrid above. While it is a much more efficient and only FWD CUV, it is a compact CUV and not really a comparison to the RAV4, Escape, Rogue and CR-Vs of the world. The interior where owners will live for the life of the vehicle is pretty slick. The leather wrapped wheel is comfortable and the audio, telephony, and CC function toggle switches have been improved over past Toyota’s to operate with less movement when pressing them. A little talked about feature is the thin, almost frameless rear view mirror with Homelink. It adds a classy touch compared to what we have all driven for the past number of decades. The one feature I should have taken a pic of and forgot. A sunglass holder was also added over past RAV4s and it is about time too. A colorful central 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display was easy to read but the 7” central display seemed to be a bit small for vehicles costing over $27,500 nowadays. Thinking of the std. displays in the Korean contingent. Another small design element I love seeing in modern automobiles is a double contrast stitched dash design. The RAV4 Hybrid hit one out of the park as you can clearly see. Just a classy add-on to make the next 150k miles a lot more comfortable to the eyes. The RAV4 Hybrid Limited is equipped with Toyota’s SofTex-trimmed soft synthetic leather seats, dash, central console, and door panels. The driver’s eight-way heated power seat with memory and lumbar adjustment was comfortable despite my want for another inch of lower seat cushion length. A remote power liftgate was standard and road noise was minimal. A problem was found in the smartphone tray. Even with a smallish by todays standards 5” screen Samsung Galaxy S5, it fit in the tray but every corner it would slide out onto the floor. My 5.5” LG G4s did not even fit in the tray. It did not have the Qi inductive charger system for me to test. I have had problems with Toyota/Lexus Qi chargers in the past and I hope they have improved upon that with the 2017 option. Compared to the non-Hybrid RAV4, the Hybrid’s Passenger Volume of 100.7 cu. ft. is exactly the same. When considering cargo volume, the Hybrid’s 35.6 cu. ft. with the 60/40 rear seats up and 70.6 cu. ft. with them down, compares very favorably to the 38.4/73.4 cu. ft. of cargo volume with the rear seats up/down. Side to side hip and shoulder room are excellent. Knee room for rear seaters was tight. 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD Infotainment A part of the $1,435 Advanced Technology Pkg. – part of this vehicle as driven, was the new Bird’s Eye View Monitor. Like many other around view systems, it utilizes four cameras that are mounted on the front, side mirrors and rear of the vehicle to give the driver a panoramic view of their surroundings. Those that have read my past write-ups on Nissan vehicles know how much I love these things. The RAV4 Hybrid Limited arrived with all the standard Entune features - AM/FM/CD, Bluetooth, backup camera and the JBL Audio w/ 11 JBL GreenEdge Technology with Navigation. I have never found Toyota/Lexus high end systems to be blow your socks off good and this one was no different. I like the idea of energy saving amps, crossovers, and speakers but the audio quality did not light my hair on fire. 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD Safety The RAV4 Hybrid just like the standard RAV4 includes the latest safety features and functionality. The Passive Star Safety System w/ Traction Control (TRAC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Brake Assist (BA), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Smart Stop Technology (SST), Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC), and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert is all there. As is the active 8 airbags front, side, side curtains, driver knee, and a front passenger seat cushion airbag to align the passenger for a crash. Those features provide the vehicle with an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ – with the included advanced crash avoidance technologies – and NHTSA 5-star crash test ratings which bare the design out. For 2017, the RAV4 Hybrid – all trims – receive Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). This safety addition combines the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). TSS-P’s comprehensive features create in-the-moment safety designed to support a driver’s awareness and decision-making on the road. The Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist worked well. Not to the point of autonomous driving but about 80 percent of the time picked up the lane markers and made a slight nudge correction towards the center of the lane. The Radar CC is vastly improved over previous Toyota systems but did not quite feel as smooth as the one in the 4th gen Prius despite probably using the same HW and SW. Weather conditions could have amplified it although it was not snowing when I was testing it out. The 4th gen Prius continues to be the best RCC system I have ever used in terms of smoothness both on the acell and decal side of the equation. Auto High beams were seamless. I left it in auto and never touched the switch. High beams came on and stayed on as long as no traffic either coming or going was up ahead. They went to dims when a car was about 20 degrees off the front corners or a well-lit area under a street light was encountered. It was vastly improved over Toyota systems from as late as 2014 that would dim with reflections from road signs. 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD Conclusions There is a lot to like as there are in any modern fully loaded automobiles. The exterior looks good although I think it could use a little more grill work up front, a chrome DLO, and a real character line. Maybe a C+/B- imho. Inside is comfortable, quiet, good looking – I still love that leather passenger side dash insert - and feature full. I do wish it had Android Auto – Apple CarPlay for those with iPhones – to round out the NAVI and an 8” to 12” display. $35k+ vehicles should not be hampered with just 7” screens. Toyota NAVI like most embedded NAVIs still suck. A Garmin GUI or Googles Android Auto solution is just better. The smartphone tray is also poorly designed. Overall, a solid B+. Ride and Handling? The chassis is tuned for a sportier ride but I think Toyota may be moving away from their bread and butter soft ride despite the body roll at the limits. The low profile 18’s have little give causing a slightly harsh ride on bumpy roads. The 17’s would help here as I do not remember lower trim RAV4s having this harsh of a ride. And the efficiency… In the small to midsize segment, nothing will touch it including the just released 2017 Rogue Hybrid. Especially in the city. If you are planning to buy a CUV in the next 12 months, I recommend the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid over any other small to full sized CUV/SUV available today. The caveat being the about to be released 2017 Kia Niro. It is a smaller compact CUV that is not quite as comfortable. However, a 60 percent improvement in efficiency and even more modern features – 8” central display, 3-level heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto – make it another choice. First time buyer, move down and save the $s. Family that needs room, The RAV4 Hybrid makes a lot of sense. And my near future speculation? With the 2018 Honda CR-V supposedly receiving the Accord Hybrids two-motor system and probably 43 to 45 mpg combined rating that may be the small to midsize CUV choice once it arrives. Similarly, the RAV4 Hybrid should soon receive the 2018 Camry Hybrids drivetrain with the Li-Ion, new MG1/MG2 layout and action, 40 percent efficient 2.5L I4 providing upwards of 45 to 47 mpg. That could arrive as early as 12-months from now making it the best choice for a growing family. We are living in a golden age of the automobile with spectacular efficiency, features mot even thought of just a decade ago and safety beyond anything previously available. The RAV4 Hybrid is at the tip of the spear in many cases but is showing its age with the quick pace of competitors change. As driven, our RAV4 Hybrid Limited AWD ($34,030) came in at $37,057 including the aforementioned Advanced Technology pkg. ($1,435), mats ($224), Tonneu Cover ($90), Mudgaurds ($129), Body side moldings ($209), and D&H ($940). 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid – Nissan Rogue Hybrid – Kia Niro Hybrid Efficiency Comparison Toyota January 2017 Sales Overview Earlier today Toyota reported it sold 143,048 vehicles in January of 2017, a decrease of 11.3 percent from January 2016s 161,283 sold. Toyota on its own achieved January sales of 127,476 vehicles, down 9.2 percent below the 140,350 sold in January of 2016. Lexus achieved January sales of vehicles, down 9.2 percent from the. Lexus had an even tougher month after a so so December of 2016 when it sold 41,182, up 3.2 percent on a DSR basis and down .5 percent on a volume basis. In January, the luxury brand sold just 15,572 vehicles, down 25.6 percent below the 20,933 sold in January of 2015. Lexus posted January sales of 15,572 vehicles, down 25.6 percent on a volume basis and DSR basis. Jeff Bracken, Lexus Group VP and GM said the brand did achieve a best-ever January in Used Certified sales with more than 7,900 vehicles sold to help thwart the large sales falloff. On the Prius and Prius family front, the overall sales results were not good. With the very efficient and more mainstream Kia Niro and Hyundai Ioniq HEVs about to be released, and a very aggressive Ford pushing its Fusion HEV and PHEV with huge discounts, the Prius’ U.S. monthly Hybrid sales dominance could be numbered despite thousands of dollars on the hood today. The entire Prius hybrid family is better than the low sales results indicate. Toyota January 2017 Sales Highlights There were few highlights but the one that did was of course the featured vehicle, the RAV4/RAV4 Hybrid. RAV4 achieved sales of 22,155 vehicles in January, up 2.8 percent over the 21,554 sold in January of 2016. It was the best-ever January in the models history in fact. Good choice by those that picked up the hybrid in particular. The number one tidbit in the January segment sales reports is that the Ford Fusion Hybrid outsold the Prius liftback for the first time in history. I believe this is the first time the Prius Liftback has been surpassed since the Gen 2 was released back in late 2003! U.S. January 2017 Sales vs. January 2016 Sales Ranks and Results for the top 18 Automobile Manufacturers GM January 2017 Sales Down 3.8% with 195,909 Vehicles sold Ford January 2017 Sales Down 0.6% with 172,612 Vehicles sold FCA January 2017 Sales Down 11.2% with 152,218 Vehicles sold Toyota January 2017 Sales Down 11.3% with 143,048 Vehicles sold Nissan January 2017 Sales Up 6.2% with 112,319 Vehicles sold Honda January 2017 Sales Up 5.9% with 106,380 Vehicles sold Hyundai January 2017 Sales Up 3.3% with 46,507 Vehicles sold Subaru January 2017 Sales Up 6.8% with 43,879 Vehicles sold Kia January 2017 Sales Down 7.0% with 35,626 Vehicles sold Mercedes-Benz January 2017 Sales Up 3.5% with 27,900 Vehicles sold VW January 2017 Sales Up 17.1% with 23,510 Vehicles sold Mazda January 2017 Sales Up 10.1% with 21,698 Vehicles sold BMW January 2017 Sales Down 0.5% with 21,219 Vehicles sold Audi January 2017 Sales Up 11.4% with 13,201 Vehicles sold Jaguar/Land Rover January 2017 Sales Up 29.9% with 9,102 Vehicles sold Mitsubishi January 2017 Sales Up 3.1% with 6,457 Vehicles sold Porsche January 2017 Sales Up 5.7% with 4,602 Vehicles sold Volvo January 2017 Sales Down 18.2% with 3,472 Vehicles sold The seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) for light vehicles was approximately 17.6 million vehicles.