Jeffrey N. Ross | Oct 21, 2020

Exterior view of the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

After years of playing it safe in the compact CUV segment that it created, the fifth-generation Toyota RAV4 is taking some big risks in hopes for an even bigger payoff.

Introduced for the 2019 model year, the new RAV4 is bigger, roomier, and more stylish than its predecessors, and the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is also more efficient. I recently got to test the all-new RAV4 Hybrid in its sporty and stylish XSE trim level, and found to check a lot of boxes.

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Exterior

Exterior view of the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Hybrids tend to have a more conservative design than their gas-only counterparts, but that certainly isn't the case with the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. While the compact crossover rivals like the Ford Escape and Volkswagen Tiguan are getting more car-like designs, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 lineup has more of a bold, rugged look, which we've already seen in other Toyota products like the Camry and Corolla. This aggressive design features angular, more SUV-like lines, and it was first previewed on the 2017 Toyota FT-AC Concept.

The new RAV4 starts with a wheelbase that is 1.2 inches longer than the preceding RAV4, yet the overall length has been shortened slightly for smaller overhangs and a more attractive profile. This RAV4 Hybrid offers 8.1 inches of ground clearance, making it just as practical as a commuter vehicle as it is as an active lifestyle vehicle. For an extra dose of style, this RAV4 Hybrid came in the XSE trim level, including a two-tone exterior with this tester showing off a dark, almost purplish, blue (called Blueprint) with a roof painted Midnight Black Metallic. There were other blacked-out accents on the wheel surrounds, lower body trim, and of course, the five-spoke 18-inch wheels. Interestingly, Toyota only offers its sporty-looking XSE trim level on the RAV4 Hybrid.

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2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Interior

Interior view of the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Matching its exterior design, the XSE trim level gives the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid a sporty-looking cabin with black seats accented by blue fabric trim and a black headliner. As one of four trim levels available on the RAV4 Hybrid, the XSE comes standard with features such as a digital gauge cluster, blue ambient cabin lighting, and leather wrapping on the steering wheel and shift lever.

Adding even more cabin tech, this tester was equipped with the $1,620 Premium Audio system that bundles an eight-inch touch screen, navigation and an 11-speaker JBL stereo system. The $640 XSE Technology Package includes a wireless smartphone charger as well as some added safety equipment. Despite a longer wheelbase and added body width compared to its predecessor, the 2020 Toyota RAV4's spec sheet actually shows that it has slightly less interior space than the outgoing model, but you wouldn't be able to tell that by sitting in this new RAV4. The added width delivers noticeably more space between the front seats, and a standard electronic parking brake opens up even more room in the center console instead of the hand-operated lever.

The rear seats provide a generous amount of hip room, legroom and headroom even for taller occupants, and the cargo area offers up to 37.6 cubic-feet of storage space behind the rear seats.

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2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Performance

View of the engine block of the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

As was the case with the previous RAV4, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 is offered with two powertrain options. For maximum value and efficiency, the 2020 RAV4 Hybrid is the way to go, but a new plug-in model called the RAV4 Prime is rolling into dealerships now for the 2021 model year at the highest price point. The RAV4 Hybrid combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with a nickel-metal hydride battery pack to deliver a combined 219 horsepower output, and that power can be sent to all four wheels through the standard Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive. While the standard RAV4 features an eight-speed automatic, the Hybrid uses an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission.

This advanced powertrain gives the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 41 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, which is significantly better than the 34 mpg city and 30 mpg highway ratings of the 2018 RAV4 Hybrid. Not only is this an improvement over the non-hybrid 2020 RAV4 (with 28 mpg city and 35 mpg highway ratings), but it's also good enough to beat its closest rival, the new 2020 Toyota CR-V Hybrid. After spending a week with this RAV4 Hybrid, the trim computer showed an average of just under 40 mpg in combined driving.

The RAV4 XSE Hybrid might look sporty, but at the end of the day, it's still a hybrid. That means the driving experience is still on the numb and disconnected side due to transmission, steering and brakes that are all designed to maximize efficiency. That being said, the new RAV4 Hybrid has a smooth and quiet ride for a compact crossover, and it handles quite well considering its purpose and the fact that it weighs 220 pounds more than a non-hybrid model. Opting for the hybrid doesn't mean you have to sacrifice any practicality, as the interior doesn't give up any cargo space, and the max towing capacity of this crossover is 1,750 pounds, which is actually better than most versions of the non-hybrid RAV4.

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2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Safety

View of the safety features of the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The 2020 Toyota RAV4 achieved a Five-Star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Like the standard RAV4, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid comes loaded with safety tech including Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. It also comes with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of driver assistance features, which includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Radar-Based Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Lane Tracking Assist, Automatic High Beams and Road Sign Assist.

The $640 XSE Technology Package also adds front and rear parking assist with automated braking.Shop Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Inventory

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Overall

Exterior view of the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

There's a reason why Toyota sells hundreds of thousands of RAV4s every year, and that is because buyers want a family vehicle that is efficient and roomy.

The 2020 Toyota RAV4 lineup now does even more to appeal to a wider audience with a bold, chiseled design that is probably good enough to make this 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid the best-looking hybrid vehicle on the market. On top of that, the RAV4 still delivers big on value. Opting for hybrid power is about a $2,500 premium as the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid starts at $28,350, and this loaded-up XSE trim level carried an as-tested price of $37,699.


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2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Specs


4-door, 5-passenger, AWD


2.5-liter I4, 219 hp, 163 lb-ft
CVT automatic 


22/28 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

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