The RAV4 is a fuel-efficient family hauler with a lot of things to like.
Here is the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid XSE, and since this fifth generation’s release in 2019, it has been one of the go-to choices in the Canadian market. So popular that the RAV4 went on to sell over 65,000 units in 2019, becoming Canada’s bestselling vehicle (excluding full size pickup trucks) for the year, while taking home the single year sales record by any vehicle in Toyota Canada’s history.
Building on its own success, as well as the brand’s push for a bigger electrified vehicle portfolio, Toyota released the updated RAV4 Hybrid along with the gasoline model last year. It quickly went on to become a very popular vehicle on Canadian roads, and dealerships had a hard time meeting demand for the first year.
The 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid here is in the sporty XSE trim, with black exterior accents including the 18-inch wheels, roof, and grille. Toyota has injected more ruggedness to the RAV4’s styling, making it one of the sharpest looking crossovers around. The Blueprint paint job looks classy and understated for those who prefer a vehicle that blends in; however, with only blue, light grey, dark grey, and white available on the XSE trim, it feels like a missed opportunity to not offer it with brighter palettes to accentuate the overall sportiness.
All RAV4 Hybrids are equipped with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine paired to an electric motor, for a combined 219 horsepower. Like many electrified vehicles, acceleration is never a problem with the RAV4 Hybrid, as the motor sends instant torque to the wheels to get going quickly. Stay on the throttle, and the gasoline engine takes over the task rather seamlessly, providing usable and linear power throughout.
Built on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform that is inherently rigid with good handling abilities, and having experienced a couple of the 2019 RAV4 gasoline models, we had high expectations. Unfortunately, this was not the case, and the sport-tuned front suspension on the XSE is largely to blame for this. The suspension setup is overly soft, leading to messy body controls and disappointing handling. The firm chassis can be felt trying to keep everything tidy, however, body roll was excessive and the overall driving dynamic we observed was vastly different than the RAV4 Hybrid XSE we tested last year (reviewed here).
The RAV4 Hybrid’s compliant ride quality soaks up most of the road imperfections; but the firm chassis shows when it rolls over bigger bumps. Ride comfort is saved by excellent interior space, with better than average head and legroom for all occupants. The big windows create an airy space inside, and the rear cargo space is very usable with total volume of 1,059 litres despite the raked rear hatch. Those who intend to use the RAV4 Hybrid for towing can do so up to its 1,750-pound limit. Outdoorsmen with bigger towing needs can turn to the Toyota RAV4 Trail (reviewed here) with the 2.5-litre gas powertrain and 3,500-pound towing capacity.
Fuel economy is the RAV4 Hybrid’s biggest advantage over most of its peers, with a rated consumption figure of 5.7L/100km in the city, 6.3L/100km on the highway, and a combined rating of 6.0L/100km. Our observed fuel economy came in at 6.1L/100km for a highway-heavy commute, a very respectable number in the compact crossover segment. The RAV4 Hybrid requires only regular grade gasoline for its 55-litre tank.
The RAV4 Hybrid XSE comes with a seven-inch touchscreen that houses the infotainment system. Toyota’s setup here is simple and easy to use, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity supported. Our tester is equipped with the optional Technology Package, giving it many of the features that are standard on the top trim RAV4 Hybrid Limited, such as onboard GPS navigation, wireless charging, and the eleven-speaker JBL premium audio system.
The latest generation of Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 driver assist technologies are standard on all 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid models. This includes Lane Tracing Assist, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist and Road Edge Detection, Auto High Beam, Radar Cruise Control, Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian and Bicycle Detection. The optional Technology Package adds Intelligent Clearance Sonar and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Braking systems to assist drivers in navigating tight parking spots.
Pricing for the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid starts at $32,490 for the LE AWD, and our XSE AWD model starts at $38,880. Add $2,830 for the Technology Package and we arrive at an as-tested total of $41,710. For 2020, there are not many direct competitions to the RAV4 Hybrid as the hybrid technology is just beginning to trickle into the compact crossover segment, but that is about to change. At the time of writing, the all-new 2021 Kia Sorento and the 2022 Hyundai Tucson have just been just announced with hybrid powertrains. Based on their recent track records, we expect them to be worthy competitors to the RAV4.
The 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid XSE is a fuel-efficient family hauler with a lot of things to like, including an upscale interior and a relatively small premium over gasoline powered models. We expect the RAV4 to continue being a hot seller in the Canadian market, but unfortunately, the disappointing handling abilities stops it from being an across-the-board winner in our books. We recommend buyers to give it a test drive before deciding, and hope that Toyota would have the suspension tuning sorted before competition heats up in 2021.