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The Brief: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

I heard this saying just recently and I’ve no idea if it’s an actual thing but once I had an image in my mind, I quickly drew a parallel with the RAV4 Hybrid. For starters, the expression reads worse than it is so, well; don’t read into it too much.

2017 Toyota RAV4

Our beloved (?) Queen is a person of some importance, much like the RAV4. Toyota was among the first OEMs to venture into the small CUV segment along with Subaru and Honda some 20 years ago. The Queen looks good for a 90-year old woman, but and with all due respect, is not pretty by conventional means. The same can be said for the RAV4. Regardless of the angle or the amount of light, you’ll be hard pressed to describe it as handsome. It’s not all bad though.

I don’t follow the Royal family but I know that the Queen’s got a good heart. The RAV4 does as well. Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive consists in a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine, a few electric motors and, the true pimple, a continuously variable transmission or CVT.

The powertrain’s output of 194-horsepower makes the driving experience all the more interesting, once the CVT gets its act together. Regardless of the drive mode (Normal, Sport, ECO and EV), the CVT is slow, laboured and hates to be rushed. Its laziness quickly becomes an issue and I blame it for my 12L/100km fuel consumption average, and a 45cm dumping of snow. If it would only cooperate, I wouldn’t be so inclined to be harder of the throttle.

In the end though, and like the Queen, you can’t help but be fond of the RAV4. Its generally agreeable drive, level of kit (in the tested $41,810 Hybrid Limited) and family-friendliness make it a wise choice overall. The 6-speed automatic transmission included with the regular petrol RAV4s would make it an excellent choice.



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