Scion and Lexus may be getting the bulk of Toyota’s attention at the 2015 Ney York Auto Show, but today we learned that the Japanese automaker has something special planned for their primary brand too. The teaser you see below is the rear-end of an all-new 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
This will be one of the few hybrid compact SUVs on the market when it goes on sale either later this year or early next year. In fact, one of the few competitors will be from Mitsubishi, whose new Outlander will also be showing in New York. However the other really big players in the segment, such as the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, offer no hybrid powertrain option.
In theory, this should be a great move for Toyota. After all, how could adding another hybrid to their lineup ever be a bad idea?
Well, let’s look at the facts:
According to Automotive News, total hybrid sales fell almost 9% in 2014 despite overall growth across the automotive industry. The biggest loser from that hit to hybrid sales? You guessed it – Toyota. The Toyota Prius sold 15 percent less units than the year before and the Toyota Camry Hybrid sold 11 percent less.
That being said, sales of the 2014 Toyota RAV4 grew by a mountainous 23 percent, so it’s hard to predict exactly how well this new hybrid will do. Clearly there are a lot of RAV4 drivers to whom this might appeal, but we question whether any increase in sales would actually be a result of the new hybrid option or simply because of growth in the crossover segment overall.
Either way, Toyota says that the RAV4 Hybrid we’ll see in New York will preview the same more aggressive, sportier styling that they’ll use across the entire RAV4 portfolio in 2016. So it should be a relevant unveiling whether you’re a hybrid driver or not.
If we had to guess which powertrain Toyota will opt to use in their new RAV4 Hybrid, we’d put our money on the system that’s already in the Lexus NX 300h. This makes the most sense when you consider that the NX is actually built on the same platform as the RAV4… It would be a simple switch to make.
If this turns out to be what Toyota does, then we’ll see a 2.5L four-cylinder petrol that outputs 154 horsepower paired with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system – a hybrid configuration that uses two motors – to get the RAV4 Hybrid’s total output pretty darn close to 200 hp.
It should be noted that Toyota plans to offer a hybrid version of every high-volume commercial car in their lineup by the end of 2020, so this Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is just one in a long line of hybrids we may yet get out of the world’s largest Japanese automaker.