How is the RAV4 hybrid?
March 5, 2020 11:52 AM   Subscribe

I am once again thinking about a new car, and after my last question I am considering the RAV4, particularly the hybrid. Does it hold up? Is it a pain? Is maintenance expensive?

My CR-V has served me well but I think it's just old-just over 100k miles and I drive it quite a bit. I'm tempted by the slightly better gas mileage of the hybrid RAV4 but I have never owned a hybrid. Does it work as well as the regular RAV4? Is there a particular year you recommend/can I buy used?

Mostly concerned with maintenance, how the hybrid+SUV combo works in practice, and any weird hybrid stuff I should think about. If I go on week long trips every so often for work, is that an issue? That sort of thing.

Thank you!
posted by clarinet to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I guess one more piece of info is I want to drive this car as long as possible (have it for at least 10 years). Are hybrids and specifically this car good candidates for that?
posted by clarinet at 11:53 AM on March 5, 2020

Here's some (positive) data.
posted by kickingtheground at 12:15 PM on March 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

We just got one last summer (2019). We like it so far; this is our first SUV. The RAV4 Hybrid is relatively new, but we decided to trust Toyota's general track record in hybrids.

There have been a couple of weird issues:

1) There's a known issue with the gas tank not filling completely/the gauge not showing a full tank right after filling that I believe they're still working on fixing.
2) There's a #&^@&^ alarm that goes off whenever it's 38 degrees or lower to warn you that the roads might be icy which you cannot disable (This is a Toyota thing.)
3) If it gets real cold (like, 10 degrees or lower), you need to let the car run a bit before you head out, otherwise the system might freak out.

Otherwise, we've loved it. Great mileage, roomy trunk space, been doing great on New England roads in the winter.
posted by damayanti at 12:20 PM on March 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

I have a Prius. Toyota hybrids are engineered so that you can leave the vehicle On and run fan, A/C, heat, charge your phone, etc., and the power will be supplied by the hybrid battery. The gas engine will come on as needed to recharge the hybrid battery. Perfect for camping or using the car as a generator.

The hybrid engine takes a lot of load off the gas engine, and many hybrids go for 200K miles or more easily. I have had very good experience with Toyotas, including a 97 RAV4.
posted by theora55 at 12:35 PM on March 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

We got a new RAV4 hybrid this past November. So far, we've been very happy with it. Gas mileage has been excellent, it's easy to drive, and it has a lot more features than the 12 year old Scion it replaced. Haven't had it long enough to say anything about maintenance issues, but nothing we've read or experienced so far concerns us.
posted by maurice at 12:47 PM on March 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

My mother in law has a hybrid RAV4, and loves it. I wind up driving it on occasion, and it handles well, for a crossover.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:56 PM on March 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

We bought a used gas-only RAV4 about two years ago. It's a 2001 chassis with a 2004 engine (but the engine only had like 40k miles when put in the car, and was still under 100k when we bought it), previous owner was a mechanic.

We drive it very hard, we don't commute with it but we do take 5 or 6 trips up to Maine a year, and it's a 6-700 mile round trip, on top of grocery runs, etc. So far, despite its age, it's been very reliable. The layout is great, too. TONS of space in the back and on the roof, more than enough power to handle whatever you can load it down with. The mileage is more reasonable than you might expect, too, so the hybrid ought to be amazing in that regard.

Also, for a care of its vintage, it hasn't given us any serious maintenance problems. Just occasional routine stuff, nothing dramatic, almost always the kind of thing where you drive it in to the shop and get it back a few hours later. It's actually been less problematic than the 2009 Nissan sedan we had before, although to be fair to the Nissan that's because we were trying to load it down like an SUV and taken it on the aforementioned 700-mile round trips.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:28 PM on March 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Bought a 2019 RAV4 hybrid with the intent of driving until it dies permanently. We love it - nice to drive, great storage space, great mileage. The gas tank issue mentioned above is the only thing - you’re supposed to be able to fill the tank and have the dashboard tell you 550+ miles before your next refill. When we picked the car up at the dealership I think it said 510, and just filling it up ourselves it’s almost never gone above 500 - usually clocks in around 470. So the gas tank does not allow you to fill it to its full capacity. It’s a known issue that Toyota is “addressing” and I think there’s a class action lawsuit started in CA. Despite that, we don’t regret it at all.
posted by skycrashesdown at 1:42 PM on March 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

My CR-V always shows about 280 on a full tank so 470 sounds like a dream! It looks like the 2016/17/18 model does not have this issue, though? Anybody have an older model that has different weird flaws? :)
posted by clarinet at 2:26 PM on March 5, 2020

I bought a RAV4 Hybrid when they first came out in 2016. It now has 72k miles. The only problem it has had was a failure of the power rear lift gate, which cost $1200 to fix. Fixing it wasn’t optional. That aside, I’ve been very happy with the car. I don’t necessarily let it run a bit before driving in cold weather and my system hasn’t freaked out.
posted by jkent at 4:16 PM on March 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

Yeah I believe 2019 was the first year they had the gas tank issue, because they changed the shape of the tank that year.
posted by skycrashesdown at 7:24 PM on March 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Coming back to this in slightly stranger times- thank you all! When things calm down I expect to get a hybrid :)
posted by clarinet at 7:47 AM on March 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

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