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The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide
FUEL-SIPPING RAV4 HYBRID ALSO A PEOPLE-HAULER

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Two years ago, Toyota introduced the hybrid version of its popular RAV4. The 2018 model of the compact crossover continues as is without major changes. Why tinker with success?
The 2.5-liter DOHC inline-4 cylinder gas engine puts out 150 horsepower @ 5700 rpm and 152 pounds-feet of torque @ 4400 rpm. Two electric motors boast hp up to 194. A 244.8-volt nickel-metal hydride battery is recharged by energy captured as the driver applies the brakes or coasts. Also, the electronically controlled Continuous Variable Transmission-equipped sedan boasts a regenerative braking system.
The RAV4 operates in three modes: EV, which is electric at lower speeds of up to 25 mph; ECO, an efficient mode where the driver can control the throttle opening; and sport for some feisty driving. The rounded instrument display showing charge, power and eco readings will come in handy for drivers who like to eke out every gallon of gas.
Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag and front knee airbags are standard along with side-impact door beams, four-wheel antilock brakes, Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist, vehicle traction and stability controls, blind spot monitor, rear-cross traffic alert, rearview camera and front and rear crumple zones.
Projector-beam LED headlights flank a smoked chrome upper honeycomb grille hosting a blue-tinted Toyota emblem. Metallic silver accents deck the interior with its center stack, and 4.2-inch TFT screen between the hybrid system power meter and the speedometer. Standard goodies include eight-way power driver and four-way front-passenger seats, dual auto a/c, leather tilt/telescopic steering column and shifter, recline/fold second-row seat and a 7-inch touchscreen for navigation, audio, phone controls.
Generous passenger/cargo room should entice young families to sign on the dotted line for the RAV4 hybrid. Besides, the fuel-sipper (we earned 33.8 mpg combined) comes with solid Toyota reputation for reliability and durability.

RAV4 AWD (LIMITED)
Tires: P235/55R18
Wheelbase: 104.7 inches
Length: 181.1 inches
Width: 72.6 inches
Suspension: independent MacPherson strut front; double-wishbone rear
Steering: electric power rack and pinion
Mileage: city 34, highway 30, combined 32
Fuel capacity: 14.8 gallons
Weight: 3,950 pounds
Base price: $34,030
Web site: www.toyota.com

CALLING ALL TOYOTA DEALERS IN THE WEST CENTRAL AREA: if you would like to be listed here as one of the test-drive dealerships, e-mail us at motoringtampabay@gmail.com