Toyota tests plug-in hybrid RAV4 SUV in new images
Prototypes of a RAV4 with a charging port have been seen for the first time, with 2020 debut likely
Toyota has been seen testing what appears to be a plug-in hybrid variant of the RAV4 SUV on European roads.
At first glance, the prototype doesn't seem any different from the standard Honda CR-V rival. However, closer inspection reveals a disguised opening on the right-hand side of the car – the opposite side of where the fuel filler cap resides – a classic tell that a charging port is lurking underneath.
The test hack is also towing what looks like dynamometer equipment, another traditional sign of a new powertrain under development.
While Toyota is unable to officially comment, it's most likely that a PHEV RAV4 would continue to use the 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a larger electric motor and lithium ion battery pack.
Toyota RAV4 falls short in 'Moose Test', firm 'confident in safety'
The fifth-generation Toyota RAV4 has struggled to complete Swedish motoring magazine Teknikens Värld’s dreaded “Moose Test”, although the Japanese firm says it is “confident in the safety” of all its vehicles.
The Moose Test is one of the toughest handling evaluations out there, designed to simulate the avoidance manoeuvre a driver would have to take when an animal suddenly runs into the road.
Given their high centres of gravity, SUVs simply don’t handle evasive manoeuvres as well as traditional cars, and the same goes for bakkies.
That said, unlike traditional ladder-frame bakkies, most SUVs are now built around monocoque platforms. This, along with lower ride heights, advanced ESP stability systems and, in some cases, permanent all-wheel-drive, has definitely made your average SUV safer through the corners than their more rudimentary ancestors.
But not all of the modern unibody SUVs are safe in an emergency situation, as recently illustrated by Swedish publication Teknikens Varld, which subjected the latest fifth-generation Toyota Rav4 to the infamous ‘moose test’ - which emulates swerving around a moose, for which you can substitute any sudden obstacle that your imagination can conjure up.
As with the Toyota Hilux that the publication also recently tested, the Rav4’s moose test performance (conducted at just 68km/h) was “really bad”, in the words of reporter Linus Pröjtz.