How economical is a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid? We put its green creds to the test
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Evil Smurf has arrived! And though the white RAV4 we handed back last week was neat, the Eclectic Blue on black alloys is much meaner — or at least bolder.
Six weeks into our three-month RAV4 test, there are two common questions: how much and how efficient?
Looking at just RAV4 Hybrids, at $42,990 for the entry level GX, $45,990 for the GXL, up to $52,990 for this Limited Hybrid (and those are drive-away prices) they all run the 2.5-litre four-cylinder, and claim the same fuel economy figures: 5.0 litres/100km for city running, dipping to 4.8 litres/100km for both the highway “and” combined city/highway cycles. That is impressively frugal and interesting, suggesting that the hybrid system is most efficient with a mix of city and motorway kilometres. But how does the claim stack up?
Sounds like the perfect excuse to slap a golf glove across the faces of our team and create the Driven RAV4 Eco Challenge. For the win, simply get as close to the claim as possible over at least 100km, in any way possible – and in the spirit of fair play.
So with my Hamilton-to-Auckland commute, I’ll set the standard. Having driven the majority of the white and blue RAV4’s mileage so far and seeing an average of 5.6L/100km, I’m confident of bettering that with a lighter right.
I reset the fuel meter and select Eco mode, and quietly EV out the driveway at 5.55am on a dry Monday morning bound for the Driven/NZME headquarters, near the Sky Tower in the heart of Auckland CBD.
It’s a sweet & sour 135km, two-hour trip, offering 100km of mostly 100km/h SH1 motorway. It’s a trip broken into two halves, as the first 100km is balanced with light throttle, 80-90km/h proving to be the most efficient, at fuel use, if not speed. In full green Eco mode and watching the EV battery charge/discharge continually, the 8in touchscreen offers a live update of where the energy is flowing, allowing occasional override of the cruise to anticipate climbs. At the Bombay hill, it does that, bumping the then-average from 5.5 to 6.0 litres/100km.
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Then Drury, greater Auckland and its traffic starts, with average speed dropping from 90 down to 30km/h. But staying on SH1, this is the time for the EV mode to shine for the final 35km, using the superb Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and watching the fuel use gradually, slowly drip away to 5.4, 5.3, then 5.2 litres/100km. It wavers between 5.3 and 5.2 litres/100km, suggesting I’ve reached its fuel peak — or valley, more accurately.
The motorway exits on to Nelson St and, while the final 1.5km is a crawl, its half-charged battery carries it 95 per cent of the way, before entering the Driven carpark with a number to beat of 5.2 litres /100km.
Pretty, pretty good for a big RAV4 of this size and ability. Challenge on, guys!