The RAV4 EV is an all-electric version of Toyota's previous-generation compact RAV4 crossover with a Tesla-sourced battery and powertrain. It is available only in California, and owes its existence largely to a mandate requiring 15.4 percent of new automobiles sold in the Golden State must be plug-ins, electrics or fuel cell vehicles by 2025.
Aside from a few minor styling tweaks, from the outside the RAV4 EV would seem to be a dead ringer for the last gas-powered RAV4. The differences become apparent when one gets inside and twists the key - instead of firing up an internal combustion engine, this turns on a Tesla-designed 115kW electric drive system.
The motor produces 154 horsepower and a strong 273 lb-ft of torque, good for a zero-to-60 mph time of just seven seconds in performance-oriented Sport mode. The default drive setting, Normal mode, is optimized to maximize driving range and limits torque to 218 lb-ft. This adds 1.6 seconds to the zero-to-60 mph sprint.
When the time comes to recharge, there are two options. Standard mode charges to 35 kWh for an estimated 92 mile range, while Extended mode charges to 41.8 kWh for 113 miles. Toyota claims that Standard mode will prolong the charging life of the lithium-ion battery, which is covered by a warranty of eight years or 100,000 miles. Charging takes about six hours with a 240v charging station that adds $1,590 (plus installation) to the botton line; an 120V emergency charger is included as standard but this unit takes 44 hours to fully charge the vehicle.
Notably, the batteries don't impinge on cargo space thanks to their placement low and to the center of the vehicle. That means that 36.4 cubic inches are available behind the rear seats, while a full 73 cubes can be had with the rear seats folded.
Exterior revisions compared to the gas-powered RAV4 include a revised front bumper, grill, side mirrors and rear spoiler in addition to a special underbody design that maximizes air flow around the vehicle. These changes help cut drag to 0.30 Cd, making it the most aerodynamic crossover in the world. Headlights, taillights and daytime running lights are all upgraded to LED units.
The interior benefits from blue-accented "Neutron" fabric on the seat inserts and door trim as well as an eight-inch capacitive touch screen that displays navigation, telematics and battery charge info. Other changes include a unique instrument panel and a shifter borrowed from the Prius hybrid. In nearly all other respects the cabin is standard RAV4 fare, meaning it has intuitive controls and an uncluttered design, though the materials might disappoint some buyers given the EV's price point.
Standard safety features include dual front, front side and full-length side-curtain airbags in addition to traction control systems.
The RAV4 EV is currently the only pure electric crossover on the market. If putting an electric vehicle in your driveway is important, EVs like the Nissan Leaf sedan and the Ford Focus Electric are worth considering. If you're just looking for a vehicle with a spacious interior and low energy costs, check out Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid and the Toyota Prius V.