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2022 Toyota Rav4 hybrid gets upgraded spec and extra traction

The new Toyota Rav4 GX-R hybrid is priced at R644,100.
The new Toyota Rav4 GX-R hybrid is priced at R644,100.
Image: Supplied

Toyota has given its fuel-sipping Rav4 hybrid a shake-up with the introduction of two new models. Whereas customers could before only opt for the outgoing GX-specification, Toyota is now offering the this hybrid SUV in plush GX-R and VX guises. 

Priced at R644,100, the GX-R delivers a stylish yet rugged exterior with prominent black cladding, black over-fenders and a silver front skid-plate. A large trapezoidal radiator grille with two parallel cross-bars is flanked by a pair of ultra-narrow LED headlamps and, directly below them, wide-set LED fog-lights. Other standout features take the form of roof rails, a stubby rear roof spoiler and a set of smoked 18-inch alloy wheels. 

Toyota has bolted on a new set of smoked 18-inch alloy wheels.
Toyota has bolted on a new set of smoked 18-inch alloy wheels.
Image: Supplied

Step inside the cabin of the GX-R and you will discover a long list of standard gizmos, including automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, smart entry, five USB ports, wireless smartphone charging, rear park distance control and cruise control. Leather upholstery forms part of the package as do heated and ventilated front seats and a touchscreen infotainment system that syncs with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. For easy manoeuvring, Toyota fitted a rearview camera and rear park distance control. 

Coming in at R723,200, the flagship VX stands out with a unique front grille treatment, deeper apron and vertically-mounted fog lamp bezels. This hybrid range-topper builds on the specification of the GX-R with electronically adjustable front seats for the driver and passenger, a useful driver seat memory function, front and rear park distance control, automatic high-beam functionality and automatic fold operation for the exterior mirrors.

Specification levels are high in both GX-R and VX variants. The GX-R gets contrasting orange trim.
Specification levels are high in both GX-R and VX variants. The GX-R gets contrasting orange trim.
Image: Supplied

Another highlight of the VX is the panoramic view monitor, which is joined by a digital rear-view mirror. The digital rear-view mirror uses rear-facing cameras to project a wide angle image onto the mirror surface. This function is user selectable, allowing the driver — at a touch of a button — to toggle between traditional and camera view.

The GX-R model comes equipped with a full suite of driver aids, including ABS, EBD, brake assist, vehicle stability control, trailer sway control, hill start assist and downhill assist control. The VX grade adds Toyota Safety Sense, which encompasses pre-crash, radar cruise control, lane trace assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. A full complement of airbags is present on both variants, including side and curtain bags.

GX-R gets heated and ventilated seats.
GX-R gets heated and ventilated seats.
Image: Supplied

Pop the bonnet and you will find that both of these new Rav4 models are bolted to Toyota's fourth-generation hybrid system incorporating E-Four technology. This means that in addition to a 2.5l Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor fitted to the front axle, you also get an additional electric motor mounted on the rear axle. Running through a CVT transmission, the latter gives the Rav4 hybrid the added benefit of all-wheel drive traction (before it was front-wheel drive only). 

The sophisticated computerised brain of Toyota's newfangled E-Four system automatically optimises the torque distribution ratio according to real time driving conditions, which can vary between 100% in the front to a 20:80 front-rear split. When turning, the power distribution is adjusted to make this crossover feel more like a rear-driven car, which helps inspire driver confidence and benefits overall steering feel. For driving in slippery conditions, an Auto LSD/Trail Assist mode can be used to improve traction. E-Four models can tow up to 1,000kg braked and 750kg un-braked. 

Wireless charging is standard on both the GX-R and VX.
Wireless charging is standard on both the GX-R and VX.
Image: Supplied

According to Toyota, the internal combustion engine delivers 131kW and 221Nm of torque. The front electric motor pitches in 88kW/202Nm while the rear produces an additional 40kW/121Nm. Total system output is rated at 163kW, which allows both variants to reach a claimed maximum speed of 180km/h. While it's certainly no rocket ship in a straight line, fuel consumption across the combined cycle is claimed to be an impressive 4.8l/100km. This gives the new Rav4 hybrid a theoretical range of 1,145km on a 55-litre tank. 


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