The RAV4 may be a dominant force in the global SUV market, but over in the UK, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was one of the best selling green cars last year, even though it’s not particularly well built. So Toyota said “hang on, that’s our money,” and set to work on developing their own.
Toyota has been reluctant to go into full electrification, even though they were the most eco-friendly car company in the world before Tesla burst onto the scene. Their hybrid is amazing, but you can’t bust into a congestion zone in one for free. Being big and with a lot of floor space, the RAV4 is ideally suited for plug-in jobs.
It was only a rumor at first, but this prototype confirms Toyota is looking to offer longer full-electric range. At first glance, this all-black RAV4 is like any other. However, a new “fuel door” has appeared on the opposite side of the normal cap. If you want another tell, check out that trailer, which is a rolling dynamometer, a clear sign that the powertrain is new.
In almost all cases, PHEVs use the same displacement engines as the hybrids, so expect to find a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine under the hood. Together with the electric motor, it should make about 220 horsepower (177 hp from internal combustion). With a 0 to 100 km/h (62mph) time of about 8.5 seconds, it won’t set your pants on fire in the same way as a Porsche Cayenne or BMW hybrid would.
We don’t know what size of battery they will use. The Prius Prime, which is based on the same TNGA platform, has a capacity of 8.8 kWh (usable is less). It would be nice to more, especially considering a VW Passat GTE now has 13 kWh. As the EU is planning strict emissions for 2020/2021, we should see a flood of PHEV crossovers coming out by this time next year. Some of them have already been announced, such as the Skoda Kodiaq, VW Tiguan, Ford Kuga and sister cars from Peugeot-Opel.