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2023 Toyota RAV4 hybrid offers strong fuel economy, rugged new Wilderness trim Featured

Posted On Tuesday, 16 May 2023 00:46 Written by
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The 2023 Toyota RAV4 hybrid features a unique design that stands out in the segment. The 2023 Toyota RAV4 hybrid features a unique design that stands out in the segment. Photo by Matt Myftiu/AutoTechReviews.com

As Toyota continues to redefine its lineup in a variety of vehicle types (ICE, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, full EV), the RAV4 crossover remains a key element in their portfolio.

One of the more popular compact SUVs on the market every year, the RAV4 comes in multiple formats, including a traditional hybrid model, plug-in hybrid and standard ICE.

The RAV4 hybrid competes directly against a handful of hybrid SUV rivals from Hyundai, Honda, Ford and Kia.

I recently spent some time in the 2023 Toyota RAV4 hybrid, which debuts a brand-new Woodland Edition trim level for 2023 with a more rugged design and off-road capabilities, and I’m back with a full report.

LOOKS

Diving right into the fresh new look on the RAV4 hybrid Woodland Edition, there’s a lot to like. My test vehicle featured an attractive Midnight Metal Black paint scheme, LED lighting, 18-inch bronze-colored alloy wheels (17-inchers are standard), high-profile roof rails with crossbars, and a running board to ease entry and exit.

The rugged and somewhat funky design on the exterior of the vehicle, particularly the rear lighting setup, will catch your attention and make this vehicle stand out against competitors.

The vehicle has a length of just over 180 inches, a height of 73 inches and a curb weight of just over 3,800 pounds.

Moving inside, the RAV4 hybrid features a high-quality design, but it’s not what you would call upscale. It’s roughly what you would expect in this price range in terms of material quality.

There is adequate room for both driver and passengers, including cargo volume of 70 cubic feet with second row seats down, and 38 cubic feet with both rows up. One strange omission is that heated seats are not an available option on the Woodland Edition.

The RAV4 hybrid seats five passengers quite comfortably. Cloth upholstery and manually adjustable front seats are standard. And you can opt for synthetic leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.

Seating in both rows is comfortable even on longer drives, and the design of the RAV4 hybrid allows for great road visibility for the driver from all angles and directions. This is a vehicle that’s about function, not flashiness, and its interior will have you feeling comfortable and confident in its cargo-holding abilities..

There is also an adequate number of small storage spaces in the RAV4 hybrid to house your wallet/keys/phone and more.

HOW’S THE RIDE?

The 2023 Toyota RAV4 hybrid comes with standard All-Wheel Drive, which is a nice feature to have in this competitive segment.

The RAV4 hybrid’s 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine works alongside two electric motors, and is paired with a CVT transmission. In the end, output comes to 219 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque.

One electric motor powers the RAV4 hybrid’s rear wheels, while the other motor works with the gas engine to control the front.

In terms of getting moving, the RAV4 hybrid is not super quick, coming in the mid 7-second range, but it’s faster than the non-hybrid RAV4, which takes over 8 seconds to reach 60 mph.

What you do get is a smooth and quiet ride with responsive handling, but not a thrilling drive quality. There is minimal road noise intrusion, but nothing too severe.

The Woodland Edition’s off-road friendly setup will be attractive to many buyers looking for some adventure in their RAV4 hybrid. This model includes all-terrain tires, a TRD-tuned suspension, bronze-colored wheels, roof rack, special badging, mud flaps and all-season floor mats.

It’s refreshing to see this type of off-road friendly setup coming to the hybrid version, as it’s previously only been offered on the non-hybrid model.


TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

The technology/infotainment setup in the 2023 Toyota RAV4 hybrid is a great improvement over past tech setups for Toyota. It sports a more attractive design and operates better by both touch and voice controls than past systems.

The new system features larger touchscreens (either 8 or 10.5 inches), wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, over-the-air updates, and either a 7-inch or 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster.

The voice commands for phone calls/audio controls/navigation worked mostly as anticipated, though on occasion I had to repeat myself before my commands were understood.

The audio system comes in 6-speaker and 11-speaker options, satellite radio is included, you get a handful of USB ports, power outlet in the cargo area, and the cloud-based navigation system works effectively.

Two devices can be connected to Bluetooth at the same time, and an optional WiFi hotspot is offered in the vehicle.

Moving on to safety, the RAV4 hybrid features an ample amount of safety features that all do their job well.

It features a 5-star overall government safety rating, and its Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 system includes:
— Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
— Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
— Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
— Lane Tracing Assist
— Automatic High Beams
— Road Sign Assist

The vehicle includes eIght airbags, a LATCH system for child car seats, a helpful backup camera with dynamic lines, plus a blind spot Monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.


FUEL ECONOMY

The listed fuel mileage on the Woodland Edition RAV4 hybrid I tested was 37 mpg combined/38 city/35 highway. Other versions of the RAV4 hybrid list mileage as high as 41 city/38 highway/40 combined. Numbers are a bit lower on the Woodland Edition due to the type of tires used on this model.

In my testing, I averaged just over 30 mpg in the RAV4 hybrid, but it’s worth noting that I wasn’t aiming to maximize fuel economy, and was driving in winter conditions.

When comparing the standard ICE version of the RAV4 to the hybrid version, the hybrid is much more efficient and should be the preferred choice of many buyers.

PRICE

The Woodland Edition of the 2023 RAV4 hybrid that I tested was priced at $35,604, and the base price starts at about $32K.

This is reasonably priced compared to rivals such as the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid, Honda CR-V Hybrid and Kia Sportage Hybrid.

Trim levels for the hybrid include LE, XLE, SE, Woodland Edition, XSE, Limited, ranging from $32K to $38K before options. And the plug-in Prime version of the RAV4 comes in two options, SE and XSE, which are in the mid-to-upper $40K range.

While the higher-end models may price out many buyers, the lower trim levels are very competitive for the segment.

The warranties on the RAV4 hybrid include two years of scheduled maintenance, limited warranty for three years or 36,000 miles, powertrain warranty for five years or 60,000 miles, and hybrid-component warranty for eight years or 100,000 miles.

BOTTOM LINE

The 2023 Toyota RAV4 hybrid is a roomy, versatile, fuel-efficient, and affordable hybrid SUV — and should do well vs. the hybrid competition just as its non-hybrid counterpart succeeds so well every year in the annual sales charts. An argument can also be made that head-to-head vs. the non-hybrid, the hybrid would be the better choice.

Now available in the unique new Woodland trim, it’s one of the best traditional hybrid offerings available to those seeking an fuel efficient compact SUV but who aren’t ready yet for a plug-in hybrid or a full EV.

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AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page. Follow AutoTechReviews on Instagram at @Autotechreviews. Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu



Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2023 Toyota RAV4 hybrid   
  • Price as tested: $35,604 (starts around $32K) 
  • Best feature: Fuel mileage, smooth ride, off-road friendly Woodland Edition   
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Compact SUV buyers looking to stretch fuel mileage and get Toyota reliability 
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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