Toyota’s new hybrid SUV is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder unit producing 176 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque. That engine is mated to an electric motor sending 118 hp and 149 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels and 54 hp and 89 lb-ft to the rear wheels for a combined system output of 219 hp, more than the last-gen hybrid’s 194 hp and the 2021 non-hybrid’s 203 hp. The Japanese automaker made a few changes to this system from the previous RAV4 Hybrid, including new transaxle mounts for the electric motors and improvements to the variable cooling system. The battery pack is a nickel-metal hydride unit like before, and the transmission is an electronically controlled CVT with sequential shift modes. All 2021 RAV4 Hybrids will continue to have standard all-wheel drive.
Although the new RAV4 Hybrid makes more power, it also saves more gas. Toyota estimates the 2021 model will deliver 41/37 mpg in city/highway; that’s much better than the 2020 model, which got 34/30. In comparison, the 2021 Nissan Rogue Hybrid AWD delivers 31/34 mpg (or 33/35 mpg with front-wheel drive), giving the RAV4 a bigger advantage over its main hybrid competitor. Non-hybrid 2021 RAV4 AWDs are EPA rated at 25-27/33-34 mpg.
Given that the hybrid’s battery pack is located underneath the back seat, the interior space isn’t compromised. Seats can still be folded flat, and just like the non-hybrid version, five people can sit inside comfortably. Cargo space remains 37.0 to 37.6 cubic feet behind the second-row seats, just like the standard models.
Just like on non-hybrid versions, Toyota Safety Sense will be standard on all hybrid models. The package includes a pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high-beams, lane tracing assist, and road sign assist. XLE and above will also get blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic braking as standard equipment.