Toyota has expanded its updated 2022 RAV4 line-up with a Hybrid version of the adventure-flavoured Edge – taking the number of RAV4 Hybrid variants to nine
The Toyota RAV4 may have been around for close to 30 years now, but it’s taken until this fifth generation (launched in Australia in May 2019) to finally reach its potential.
In its current form, the RAV4 displays a level of consistency in its all-round ability that so many car makers fail to achieve – including Toyota, for many generations. Which is why this modest but worthwhile 2022 update didn’t need to reinvent the wheel – it simply needed to massage what was already a really good thing!
The RAV4’s headline changes for 2022 concern a new Hybrid version of the range-topping Edge – complementing the existing 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder Edge with eight-speed automatic and mechanical AWD.
There’s also a new Hybrid-only XSE variant (front-drive or AWD) that slots between the RAV4 GXL and RAV4 Cruiser in the line-up, and brings a sporty flavour thanks to its all-black roof, black mirror caps, gloss-black 18-inch alloys, black headlining and ribbed ‘Softex’ synthetic leather seats with blue stitching.
The XSE also gets an electric tailgate, unique cabin mood lighting, wireless phone charging and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation.
Other 2022 RAV4 updates include digital radio, LED fog lamps, a light-grey alloy wheel finish, LED cabin lighting and a rear-seat reminder for GX variants; illuminated power window switches for GXL models and above; and a digital rear-view mirror, eight-way electric front passenger’s seat and front seat heating/cooling for RAV4 Cruiser.
The GXL gets new 18-inch alloy wheels (the same design as XSE and Cruiser Hybrid wheels but with a dark silver finish instead of gloss-black) while Cruiser petrol retains its silver 19-inch alloys. Edge gets a similar 19-inch alloy-wheel design to before but with a matte dark-grey finish.
All RAV4 Hybrid models get new headlights – projector LED units with three clear segments housing the high/low beams, indicators, and the combined daytime running, parking and clearance lights – while both 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrol variants get an idle-stop system for improved fuel efficiency.
Unfortunately, the base six-speed manual GX has been dropped. But fortunately for Hybrid fans who loved the look of the previous RAV4 Edge, it’s now available with the Hybrid powertrain and standard ‘e-Four’ AWD, and it’s that variant we’re testing here.
The remarkable thing about any fifth-generation RAV4 is just how well it rides, handles and steers – regardless of wheel size – which bodes well for the Edge Hybrid.
With its chunky matte-grey 19-inch alloys and orange-highlighted cabin, the athletically styled Edge implies a degree of capability both on- and off-road. And while the ‘e-Four’ Hybrid with its electronically controlled rear axle (via a rear-mounted electric motor) doesn’t have the on-paper smarts of its petrol alternative (with a mechanical AWD system and rear torque vectoring), the considerable efficiency improvements of the 163kW hybrid drivetrain should more than make up for any off-road shortcomings for most buyers.
So equipped, the Edge Hybrid is both peppy and smooth, with impressively urgent performance from its hybrid drivetrain (we tested it from 0-100km/h in 8.3 seconds) as well as a torquey silkiness at low speeds that makes it effortless to drive in most situations. Even its CVT transmission is responsive and well-calibrated, though the 2.5-litre petrol engine that accompanies its nickel-metal hydride battery and two motor generators can become quite strident when being pushed hard. On damp surfaces, you also notice some slip from the front wheels before the rear axle engages.
At least the AWD hybrid version matches the braked towing capacity of the regular Edge petrol AWD at 1600kg.
Dynamically, the fifth-gen RAV4 is a delight. Crisp and consistently weighted steering that eagerly responds to inputs makes the RAV4’s well-balanced handling both confidence-inspiring and surprisingly rewarding. But it’s ride quality that ultimately sets the Edge Hybrid apart.
Like all its RAV4 stablemates, there’s a teflon-like smoothness and refinement to the way the Edge deals with bumps, and wearing 235/55R19 tyres does nothing to change that. So not only is this hybrid Toyota a surprisingly effective driver’s tool, it’s also a really comfortable one!
Safety-wise, the 2022 RAV4 Edge gains some new features. As well as rear cross-traffic alert, the Edge scores ‘parking support brake’, which is Toyota-speak for front and rear autonomous emergency braking (AEB), as well as junction AEB to prevent turning across oncoming traffic. Combined with adaptive cruise control and lane-departure alert, as well as other solidly effective safety systems, the RAV4 Edge has you well-covered, though the ‘lane-trace assist’ can be annoyingly unsubtle and over-zealous when steering away from line markings.
If you thought the RAV4’s exterior was a lesson in trainspotting the minutiae of differences, then the interior is a similar story.
While other models have gained equipment – notably the RAV4 Cruiser with its eight-way electric front passenger’s seat and three-setting front heating and cooling – the Edge Hybrid only really has a (small) standard sunroof to crow about.
While we love the visual appeal of our test car’s two-tone interior treatment (also available in all-black with the same orange detailing), as well as its orange stitching and orange plastic highlights, the Edge’s ‘Softex’ synthetic leather is a step backwards from the Cruiser’s leather-faced upholstery and struggles to let your body breathe in hot weather. Your only option is to leave the front seat coolers permanently on, though at least it has seat cooling!
As for the rest of the package, the Edge’s nine-speaker JBL sound system with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (shared with Cruiser variants) is excellent, while interior space is vast. Up front, the driving position feels accommodating enough to suit most body types – headroom included – while the rear seat has loads of room in all directions. Even the centre-middle rear position isn’t too uncomfortable, though the whole rear bench could use a bit more under-thigh support and expanded backrest adjustment.
Cabin utility is also a highlight, with reasonable door bins (you can squeeze a plastic 1.5-litre bottle in all of them), proper door grab handles, well-sized centre cupholders front and rear, and even natty device-storage pockets across the tops of the front seatbacks.
In terms of boot capacity, the RAV4 remains at the pointy end for midsize SUVs with a very generous 580 litres beneath its retractable luggage cover, with a space-saver spare mounted beneath the carpeted floor on this Edge Hybrid.
According to Toyota, the new idle-stop system for the 152kW/243Nm 2.5-litre Edge petrol improves its combined fuel efficiency to 6.7L/100km, however that’s still significantly inferior to the Hybrid AWD’s 4.8L/100km.
Despite our test car having just 13km on the clock when we collected it, the Edge Hybrid averaged a respectable 7.1L/100km given that it was driven pretty hard while still on its first-ever tank of 91-octane unleaded.
Recommended service intervals for the RAV4 Hybrid are every 12 months or 15,000km, with each service capped at $230 for a five-year/75,000km total of $1150. While that’s cheaper than just about any other car on the market, the new-generation Mitsubishi Outlander goes one better by costing just $995 for the same period.
Toyota’s warranty coverage is five years/unlimited kilometres, which is the industry standard for mainstream manufacturers, though still two years adrift of the seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty offered by Kia.
As we mentioned right at the start of this review, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 hardly reinvents the wheel but then it also didn’t have to. This is a classic example of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, though Toyota’s finessing of the RAV4’s drivetrain line-up and features list makes what was already a really good car even better.
As arguably the most interesting model in the line-up, equipping the Edge with a hybrid drivetrain is something of a belated move, though it now means that you can get any variant in the RAV4 line-up with some form of electrification and class-leading fuel efficiency.
Where the $52,320 Edge falls slightly short is that it costs more than an equivalent 2022 Cruiser Hybrid, yet misses out on that car’s eight-way electric adjustment for the front passenger’s seat, or any form of adequate adjustment for the front-left passenger.
If that isn’t a problem for you, great – the Edge Hybrid is a terrific car. But if you regularly carry a tall front passenger, and also enjoy the thermal comfort of real leather trim, then the real winner in the 2022 RAV4 line-up remains the Cruiser Hybrid AWD.
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Variant tested EDGE (AWD) HYBRID
Key specs (as tested)
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