Toyota Celebrates 25 Years of the RAV4 in North America; introduces New SE Hybrid model for 2022
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The 25th anniversary of the Toyota RAV4 is a coming-of-age story in North America. The small SUV crossover debuted in 1996 when midsize and large SUVs were the dominant herd on American highways.
Small vehicles were suspect, particularly in the U.S., for their safety structure as drivers navigated among the greater truck-based vehicles. The market segment for small SUVs had barely formed in 1996. And most of these were quirky import transplants with few changes for the preferences of North American drivers.
Among the early small SUV choices were the 1988 Daihatsu Rocky, the 1989 Geo Tracker (aka Suzuki Sidekick and Chevrolet Tracker), and the 1990 Isuzu Amigo. The offerings grew in 1996 with the diminutive two-door, two-seat 1996 Suzuki X-90 and the Kia Sportage (which brought the industry’s first knee air bag).
Today, there are around 20 small SUVs in the small SUV segment, and most manufacturers now offer one or two choices.
The first Toyota RAV4 was available as five-door and three-door models. However, the four-door version dominated sales in the U.S. It was the only body style to return with the second-generation RAV4 in 2000.
Toyota refers to the RAV4 as the original small SUV. Now in its fifth generation, the RAV4 has become the best-selling Toyota model in the country. And in its 25-year history, it is on track for 5 million sales this fall.
- The First RAV4, 1996-2000
- Second Generation: 2000-2005
- Third Generation: 2006-2012
- Fourth Generation: 2013-2018
- Fifth and Current Generation: 2019-
The fifth-generation RAV4, introduced for 2019, offers the model’s widest selection to date. Model choices include:
- The first RAV4 TRD Off-Road.
- Gasoline-electric RAV4 Hybrid.
- Flagship RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid (PHEV). The RAV4 Prime has an EPA-estimated rating of 42 miles on battery power alone.
In gas-engine models, the 203-horsepower Dynamic Force 2.5-liter four-cylinder is paired with an eight-speed Direct-Shift, continuously variable automatic transmission. This powertrain has an EPA-estimated 28 mpg city, 35 highway, and 30 mpg combined for the front-wheel-drive LE model — the best ever for a gas RAV4, Toyota says.
RAV4 Hybrid models have a 40-mpg combined EPA-estimated rating, which is nearly a 30-percent improvement over the previous hybrid. Likewise, the hybrid’s e-AWD improves over the previous system. Its new independent rear motor operates proactively to maintain traction even before front-tire slippage is detected.
At the top of the model line, the RAV4 Prime PHEV (plug-in hybrid) is both the performance and efficiency leader. Available in SE and XSE trim levels with standard e-AWD, the RAV4 Prime has an EPA-estimated 94 MPGe rating. And it has an all-electric driving range of 42 miles on a single charge. When driven in hybrid mode, the RAV4 Prime powertrain can generate a combined 302 hp and is capable of 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds. That acceleration makes it the second quickest Toyota in the lineup behind Supra.
For 2022, the RAV4 will be available in a new SE Hybrid grade, and all RAV4 trim levels have been given some exterior and interior updates.
The 2022 RAV4 SE Hybrid model pares back some of the features built into the topline SLE model. For example, the SE Hybrid will be offered in a monotone paint scheme, fabric-trimmed seats, a six-speaker audio system, and a 7-inch touch screen.
Available options for the SE Hybrid include the weather package, which adds a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, and rain-sensing windshield wipers with a de-icer function.
The convenience package includes a moonroof, height-adjustable power liftgate, and Audio Plus with a 9-inch touchscreen.
Calvary Blue with a black roof (shown in the exterior photos) is a new paint-scheme choice for select RAV4 models, including the new SE Hybrid and TRD Off-Road.
There are a few new wheel colors and designs, and the headlights were updated for style and capability. New LED fog lamps are optional for XLE Premium, Limited, Adventure, and TRD Off-Road.
The XSE Hybrid also gets sleek vertical lights that debuted on the XSE Prime in 2021.
Interior updates are also found across the model line:
• All models now have a locking glove box and LED interior lights;
• XLE and above get illuminated interior switches;
• Limited grade gets an eight-way power passenger seat.
The 2022 RAV4 Hybrid goes on this December. Toyota will release pricing and more details on the 2022 RAV4 in mid-December.
For comparison, the 2021 RAV4 Hybrid is sold with standard all-wheel drive in trim levels of LE, XLE, XLE Premium, XSE Premium, and Limited. Starting MSRPs range from $28,800 to $37,330, not including the $995 freight charge from Georgetown, Ky.
Pricing for the RAV4 Prime PHEV, sold in trims of SE and XSE, has starting prices of $38,250 and $41,575.
The price-step between 2021 RAV4 Hybrid models is about $2,000. If carried through for the 2022 RAV4 SE Hybrid, its starting price could be close to $26,800.
Check current Toyota-model pricing and incentives here.
Body style: compact, 5-seat, 5-door small SUV with e-AWD
Engine: 176-hp, 2.5-liter direct-injected Dynamic Force 4-cylinder with 16-valves, dual overhead camshafts, intelligent variable valve timing by an electric motor on the intake and exhaust camshafts
Electric motor: Permanent magnet synchronous
Combined power: 219-hp
Battery pack: Lithium-ion with 244.8-volts and a maximum of 650V
Transmission: electronically controlled CVT with sequential shift mode and electronic on-demand AWD
Fuel economy: 41/38/40 mpg city/hwy/combined on the recommended 87 octane;
Braking: Power-assisted, 12-inch front ventilated discs; solid 11.1-inch rear discs; electronic parking brake
Max towing capacity: 1,750 lbs.
BY THE NUMBERS
Fuel tank: 14.5 gallons
Cargo space: 37.6 to 69.8 cu. ft.
Front head/leg room: 37.7*/41 in. *with moonroof
Rear head/leg room: 39.5/37.8 in.
Length/wheelbase: 180.9/105.9 in.
Curb weights: 3,690 to 3,780 lbs.
Turning circle: 36.1 ft.
Where assembled: Georgetown, Ky.