2012 Toyota RAV4 EV First Drive Automotive com

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Toyota RAV4 EV

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV Drive

What It Is

Tesla S technology shoved into a RAV4 crossover for Leo DiCaprio Co.

quicker than Toyota to mention, more practical any other electric car, and quietness.

A Few Photos of this

Click thumbnails for detailed

There’s very little the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV makes sense on the surface. a collaboration between perhaps the of bedfellows since Michael and Lisa Marie Presley. has been in the electric and hybrid car since 1997, when it out the first RAV4 EV and began about an impractical little car in called the Prius.

But when it time for the RAV4 EV’s it didn’t use its know-how to develop its

Instead, Toyota contracted Valley startup Tesla for that, leaving its team to its RAV4 to work with that were unlike Toyota has ever used. And based on a crossover that’s U.S. shores since soon to be replaced by an all-new for 2013. The RAV4 EV will to share its design with the model on which it’s for the next three years.

For a with a Type A personality Toyota, you wonder how it’s with the technology outsourcing.

But project wasn’t about things the Toyota Way. In CEO Akio Toyoda planned for it to go anything the company had ever Following the quality low point faced in 2009, the company a refresher on why it was in the car business. And out of that call spawned projects the Scion FR-S, the upcoming Toyota Avalon, and this, the Toyota RAV4 EV. It’s one of the few projects Toyota has ever that was conceived completely by its operations.

Akio wanted that. And one of the few vehicles Toyota has ever to push the envelope of technological ahead of plans for profitability, as it did the $375,000 Lexus LFA.

is planning to make just RAV4 EVs over the next years, selling them in California to battle the state’s vehicle mandate. But Toyota it’s hardly a compliance simply designed to meet a to avoid a fine. Each of the equipped RAV4 EVs will the same $50,610, about more than a loaded model. Only the RAV4 exterior color will

On the surface, it’s hard to why Toyota would be going to time, effort, and expense to such a small-market vehicle. then, this project was about rationality; it was about the door to future technology, a first step towards a real, credible alternative to fuel-powered vehicles and doing so the help of a partner not bound by the bureaucracy that had long itself to one of the world’s largest

Could it possibly succeed?

After seeing thousands of the for the last seven years, the shape of the Toyota RAV4 is Readying it for electrification, Toyota try to reinvent its popular crossover; it freshened it enough for the sake of and a little visual differentiation.

Up Toyota has reworked its grille and bumper, making air inlets and more aerodynamic. A RAV4 EV replaces the interlinked ovals traditionally adorn Toyotas as as Electric badges running both front door and badge out back. Completing the are revised projector-beam LED headlights Toyota’s first LED low-beams, LED lights, more aerodynamic with integrated turn indicators, a larger rear that better manages resistance, and the most important no exhaust pipe. It borrows its from the Toyota RAV4 eschewing an outboard spare in favor of runflat tires. And the Toyota RAV4 EV sits a lower, making do with a suspension to cope with an 845-pound battery pack underneath the passenger floor.

Otherwise, it’s not radically from any other RAV4 ever seen, which may as a disappointment to those who need to attention to the fact that saving the world one car at a time.


At more than Toyota has established the electric car as we it is still a premium product. But its price, the RAV4 EV’s comes off as a bit disappointing. It’s carryover from the standard-model awash in hard, gray The seats are covered in a combination of cloth and vinyl on the bolsters and that simulates leather. real leather doesn’t sense when it comes to Mother Nature some of mind.

But carryover has its merits in as the RAV4 EV’s batteries sit it, sacrificing no cargo space in the

Not everything is old, though. includes brand new Premium Navigation and Entune, an eight-inch surrounded by pressure-sensitive flush exclusively in the RAV4 EV. It controls navigation, and smartphone apps other tasks. When with the RAV4’s smartphone it allows customers to set charging for using power at off-peak in addition to using the grid to or precool the interior, lessening on the climate control while

Still, with larger heaters that run more than the HVAC system, expects passengers to have dependency on the climate control, out a little more range each watt of energy.


You hear the darndest from the engineers when you to them about the cars seen through development the beginning. Case-in-point: chief Sheldon Brown’s explanation of the driving range. We drove the out of them, he says of the RAV4 first 300 miles on the odometer we got to drive it.

The RAV4 EV records an throughout the lifetime of the vehicle adjusts to how it’s driven. Brown’s team of engineers the wheel, each RAV4 120 miles of realistic range at charge. Brown showed us of real-world data his team showing some RAV4s to go beyond 145 miles without a If you stay light on the throttle, very doable.

Rated at 76 the RAV4 EV has a range of 92 miles charged to a battery-conserving 80 percent and 113 when filling its 41.8-kilowatt-hour to capacity. That feat six hours with a standard 2 charger — the same as a Leaf. But that can take as as 50 with a standard Level 1 — about twice as as the Leaf with a wall

Contrasting the RAV4 EV with the Nissan Leaf, the EV world’s a heavy foot for five in Nissan Leaf would in a good 10 miles of range itself without hesitation. far less comforting when you have an EPA-estimated 73 miles of to begin with. The RAV4 EV do that.

Our experience showed driving the RAV4 EV like a car — using the left on the highway included — we had no with range falling off too

But Toyota also engineered the EV to be fun to drive, and it succeeded. In sport the RAV4 has 154 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of — twisting force right from idle. And us, the Toyota RAV4 EV pulls, more like a muted airliner than a car as it takes and smoothly accelerating like too. Toyota estimates hit 60 mph from standstill in 7.0 seconds pushed. It doesn’t take effort at all to coax the tires laying down long of rubber in a parking lot with torque steer.

Give the EV a set of grippier tires than its Geolanders, and we think it could picking off sports cars. let the enthusiast publications research topic with more It was explained to us several times the electric motor is more or a detuned version of what’s in the Tesla Model S. It shows.

By with Tesla, Toyota saved the startup tens of of dollars in durability research. The We kept coming back to the after each drive on our through Newport Beach and area, grinning — I say laughing — with It was hard to get tired of driving the EV.

Toyota RAV4 EV

Toyota let more of that DNA into its RAV4 EV beyond its Tesla-built electric motor Toyota tightened its electric steering from the standard giving it an almost Germanic At parking lot speeds, it’s with one hand but quickly up at speed. Coupled with a suspension, Toyota has given its all to its drivers that electric don’t have to be dull Our only complaint with its prowess came by way of its mushy pedal feel.

It works much better regenerative brakes in hybrids and cars of yore — and found in the market today. But still some ways to go in it.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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The Toyota RAV4 EV is as radical a as you’re going to get from — perhaps a greater than even the Lexus LFA With the LFA, Toyota use the expertise it learned to lower the of lightweight materials, like fiber, for mainstream applications. the RAV4, it’s not yet known will come from its outside of the fact that engineers will assuredly more autonomy from the ship in Japan.

Borrowing from Tesla to cut down times, and learning how to think like a Silicon Valley instead of a potentially myopic of automotive devices, the RAV4 EV vastly different technology Toyota’s hybrids. It ditches AC for DC; nickel-metal hydride batteries go in of multi-cell lithium-ion. And the results are It’s sportier than the V-6

It feels quicker, and it assuredly better with most of its now in the middle instead of up front. But also a green vehicle; impossible to feel bad about it.

Outside of our small list of — including the $50,610 tag — we can’t help but the Toyota RAV4 might be the vehicle the electric car movement to really take off. It no compromises.

Except for one thing.

is planning to make just RAV4 EVs in its Woodstock, Ontario, over the next three or roughly the same number of the automaker sells in about a week. It’s only to be sold in California, too, the fact that the automaker it to withstand much greater variances than what the State has to offer. And it’s money on every one it sells.

But Toyota knew it would it got back into the EV game.

the first RAV4 EV that the developed completely in-house, the originally consigned it on a three-year program, but lessees protested to give up their cars. then rethought its position, more than 450 still on the to go into private hands for Now, Toyota’s not messing with leasing, instead ravenous and affluent greenies buy the new EV outright.

But like the last it’s still relegated to a audience.

After the first is built, we hope Toyota that. This one’s enough that the rest of the deserves a shot at it, too.


DC-induction electric 1-speed automatic transmission, drive, 154-hp, 41.8 kWh battery, $50,610, including destination and handling (excluding and federal tax rebates), 76 MPGe

Toyota RAV4 EV
Toyota RAV4 EV
Toyota RAV4 EV
Toyota RAV4 EV

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