Updated Toyota RAV4 debuts with 4WD hybrid option

The third-generation Toyota RAV4 might have only been on sale since 2013, but Toyota has pulled the covers off a facelifted version of the midsize SUV at the New York Motor Show. The biggest news is that for the first time it will get an all-wheel drive hybrid option, going head-to-head with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

To alleviate slowing sales Toyota feels the need to give the RAV4 a fresher look, with design details borrowed from the recent Auris and Avensis facelifts. That means the updated family face with a sleeker grille and bumper design, plus sharper full-LED headlamps. At the rear it’s pretty much business as before, but fresher LED tail-lamps liven it up.

Cabin quality is said to be improved, with the inclusion of more soft-touch materials and nicer fabrics. The instruments get a revamp, a colour TFT screen now features as standard in the dash and Toyota’s ‘Safety Sense’ active safety kit receives tweaks to make it operate more effectively. 

A 360-degree Panoramic View Monitor is included, proving a digitally-displayed view around the car that provides an advantage over traditional front and rear-mounted cameras and aids low-speed manoeuvring.

The biggest news under the skin is that the Rav4 is also set to become the first model in Toyota’s range to get an all-wheel-drive hybrid powertrain. It will use a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motors mounted on both axles, borrowed from the Lexus NX300h.

In that format it produces 195bhp, achieves 54.3mpg economy and emits 121g/km of CO2, but those figures should improve in the lighter RAV4. The SUV is also likely to get the same CVT automatic transmission as the Lexus.

Toyota has confirmed the four-wheel drive Rav4 Hybrid will make its debut in our dealers in early 2016, with the facelifted range going on sale in December.

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