UK’s Autocar website reported yesterday that Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motors Sales, confirmed development of a hybrid gas-electric version of the company’s RAV4 crossover SUV. Lentz added that Toyota’s 1.8-liter hybrid system will become the company’s “core powertrain.”
The RAV4 Hybrid is due in spring 2012, but only the five-door model will get the hybrid option.
HybridCars.com reported last April that the RAV4 Hybrid was in the works. The Toyota Highlander has an EPA rating of 27 in the city and 25 on the highway. As a smaller vehicle, the RAV4 Hybrid could exceed 30 miles per gallon—possibly becoming the most fuel-efficient SUV on the market. Currently, the Ford Escape Hybrid, 34 highway / 31 city, has that distinction. Hybrid fans have been hoping for a gas-electric RAV4 for several years.
The conventional Toyota RAV4, introduced in 1996, was one of the first so-called crossover SUVs, built with some of the capabilities of a truck-based SUV, but focused on many of the creature comforts of a passenger car. Since then, the vehicle has grown in size.
Toyota will unveil minor styling changes to the RAV4 at next month’s Geneva Motor Show. The company describes the modifications as a more “sophisticated” front-end design and more refined interior.