To bring a taste of off-roading capability to the RAV4 hybrid, Toyota adds a new Woodland trim to the lineup this year. In driving the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition this week, my takeaway is mostly on the positive side, but I’m not totally convinced of the Woodland Edition being as rugged and capable as the non-hybrid RAV4 TRD off-road trim. However, looking at the collective of what the Woodland Edition trim brings to the hybrid table, it’s a good effort by Toyota to give hybrid buyers something to at least better fit their adventurous personality.
Performance and Driving Character
The adventurous side of the Toyota RAV4 pays tribute to its hybrid drivetrain, which is much livelier and quicker than the non-hybrid RAV4. With such, powered by a 2.5-liter inline-4-cylinder engine and three electric motors, the RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition, which comes only in all-wheel-drive, is pretty zippy and is mostly a cure for the non-hybrid RAV4’s lackluster acceleration. The hybrid system makes a total of 219 horsepower and is mated to a planetary transmission (variable ratio gearset) that mimics the operation of a CVT (continuously variable transmission) performing a decent job of managing the power and putting it down to the pavement. Throughout the RPM range of the engine, the system sorts things out rather quickly to adjust its nearly infinite gearing ratios while combining the power and instant torque from the electric motors.
When working in harmony, the electric motors and gas engine transitions are mostly seamless, with just a slight power-bump that you feel on occasion when the motor fires up to help propel the RAV4. Toyota’s long lineage in the hybrid world pays off with the smooth and adaptable workings of the RAV4’s hybrid system. Even the braking feel in transitioning from regenerative braking to more use of the friction brakes is smooth and performs well.
The 54-horsepower rear motor feels like a nice power adder as it is the sole item to propel the rear wheels. The other two electric motors handle the regen for braking and act as a starter motor for the gas engine while also filling power for the front wheels. Together, the system works well, and you’ll be happy to hit 60 mph in just 7.3 seconds, which is over a second faster than all the non-hybrid RAV4 trims.
The exclusive parts that make up the RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition, is a TRD-tuned suspension system, a Trail drive mode for better off-roading adaptability through the drivetrain, mudflaps, a 120-volt cargo area outlet, and bronze 18-inch wheels wrapped with Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail 01A all-terrain tires. The TRD suspension doesn’t add the ride height that you get on the TRD Off-Road trimmed RAV4, but there is a welcomed adaptive feeling that isn’t overly harsh on the road and feels somewhat capable on light off-roading trails. On the road, the RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition is surprisingly smooth and quiet, considering the choice of all-terrain tires with a surprisingly nice handling balance.
As a hybrid, the RAV4 Woodland Edition makes a slight compromise in its fuel consumption where it doesn’t match the other hybrid trims, which is mostly due to the all-terrain tires and roof racks. While other RAV4 Hybrid trims get the respected 41 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, the RAV4 Woodland Edition seems to come in at about 2 mpg less, as we saw during our test getting an average of about 39.2 mpg in the city, which bests the EPA estimates of 38 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. Still, you can easily drive consciously and get 40 mpg on back roads if you use careful throttle applications and monitor the engine engagement points thanks to the clever power gauge that Toyota always provides on its hybrid vehicles.
Interior and Technology
The Toyota RAV4 makes good use of its proportions providing an accommodating cabin for most, considering its compact crossover classification. The RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition doesn’t change much from any other trim for the interior other than having Woodland weather mats and cloth seats. Things start to make you scratch your head in how the Woodland Edition trim falls in line with other trims where it omits the option of many desirable features, such as heated seats, heated steering wheel, sunroof, a power liftgate, and even rain-sensing wipers. None of these features are available on the Woodland trim while the less-expensive Hybrid SE trim offers such in option packages for an added cost.
Just like we found in previous reviews of the Toyota RAV4, the seating areas are accommodating with good spacing and decent cargo room out back that can be expanded to nearly 70 cubic feet by folding down the 60/40-split rear seatbacks. There isn’t any compromise for cargo room in the RAV4 hybrid versus the non-hybrid models.
For the 2023 model year, the RAV4 receives Toyota’s upgraded touchscreen and a continuation of a gauge cluster that is mostly digital apart from the analog fuel and temp gauges on the right and the hybrid power gauge on the left. The updated infotainment unit is identical to what is found on other new Toyota and Lexus vehicles, with a simplified interface that’s closely based around user profiles. Overall, the system is user-friendly and can access over-the-air updates and has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.
Toyota includes their latest Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 suite of active safety features and driver aids on all new RAV4 vehicles, which bundles up forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane departure mitigation, lane keeping system, adaptive cruise control, road sign recognition, and automatic high-beam LED headlights.
The new Toyota RAV4 remains competitive in its field, as well as the hybrid trims. When it comes to the new RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition, the pricing that’s slightly above the SE trim fails to offer several desirable features, as mentioned previously, which may make the total price of $34,360 a hard choice considering what other higher trim levels offer. Mind you, the base RAV4 Hybrid LE trim starts at $30,725 or $33,420 for the Hybrid SE trim before any options or fees.
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