Why Toyota believes tough new hybrid RAV4 will work
Tougher looks and the first hybrid engine are the headline items for Toyota’s all-new RAV4.
Due to arrive in Australia by the end of May 2019, Toyota has confirmed the first details of the new model at its US launch this week.
In keeping with the brand’s move away from diesel by offering more hybrids, Toyota Australia sales and marketing boss Sean Hanley confirmed there will be three hybrid models alongside three petrol-engined models.
The new RAV4 is based on the same Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) as the latest Camry and Corolla, which has allowed the brand to totally redesign the new model. Opting for a tougher new look inspired by the company’s US pickup trucks, the Tundra and Tacoma, Hanley believes the aggressive style will appeal to SUV buyers.
He cites the success of the HiLux Rogue and Rugged utes as evidence buyers are into tougher looking vehicles.
“If I use that as a benchmark, that’s what Australians are looking for in SUVs and utes,” Hanley said.
“I think people really like the idea of ‘tough trucks’, as a thought process. I believe the SUV market will once again set a benchmark but it will be tough SUVs of the future. But they’ll have to continue to offer refinement and luxury.”
Under the bonnet will be three engine options - a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, 2.5-litre petrol and 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid. The latter is available in both front-wheel drive or with an electric all-wheel drive system that adds an additional electric motor to power the rear axle.
The updated 2.0-litre has 127kW of power and 203Nm of torque, while the upgraded 2.5-litre now boasts 152kW and 243Nm. The all-wheel drive hybrid has a total system output of 155kW and 221Nm.
The RAV4 will be the first hybrid SUV offered by Toyota Australia, with plans to add four more hybrids to the showroom by the end of 2020. While the RAV4 won’t have any direct hybrid rivals in the small SUV space, Hanley said it is a logical move for the brand.
“We don’t consider it a risk, we consider it progressive,” he said.
His “pessimistic” expectation is that 20 per cent of sales will be for the hybrid model. However, with petrol-electric versions of the new Corolla and Camry accounting for more than 45 per cent of sales in 2017, the actual figure could be a lot higher.
While Hanley said official pricing would have to wait until the car launches in Australia in 2019, he concedes the cost is likely to go up as a result of more features and technology, inclusing a full suite of active safety systems that will be standard across the range.
“We are committed to a benchmark level of safety with every car we bring to market. With that comes cost,” he said.
He also indicated the price premium for the RAV4 hybrid will be similar to Corolla and Camry, which ranges from $1000 to $2300 depending on the model.
Our first drive review and video of the all-new Toyota RAV4 will go live on November 20.