Expensive compliance or somewhat affordable local utility, the RAV4 EVs range is way beyond that of a LEAF, Focus Electric or iMiEV… And so is its straight-line performance! [fimg=right]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2013_RAV4_EV.jpg[/fimg]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - Sept. 13, 2012 2012 RAV4 EV - $49,800 to start, an all-electric range (AER) of 103 miles and a 76 MPGe combined rating. Toyota this morning finally announced the For Sale date of its limited availability RAV4 EV for Californians and it begins the week of September 24, 2012. With an MSRP of $49,800, RAV4 EV customers will have the option to purchase with a 1.9% APR or lease over 36 months at $599 per month with $3,499 due at signing. To help on the pricing front, the RAV4 EV should qualify for the $2,500 rebate through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program in California and is also eligible for a $7,500 Federal Tax Credit bringing the price down to a more reasonable $39,800. The vehicle also qualifies for the California High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane white sticker program which in California can be worth far more than the price of the car depending on the daily commute. Toyota plans to release just 2,600 RAV4 EVs to the California consumer through 2014 unless demand depicts a change in production plans either up or down. 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV Drivetrain The front wheel drive RAV4 EV is built around a Tesla drive-train consisting of a single reduction gear mated to a 14,500 RPM capable AC Induction motor with a maximum of 154 HP and 273 lb-ft. of torque. The battery powering this system provides either 41.8 (Extended mode) or 35 kWh (Standard mode) of useable energy from a full charge. At WOT in Sport Mode, the pack can supply 129kW (173 hp) of power for a full 30 seconds (with around 300 lb-ft. of torque!) allowing the RAV4 EV to do the 0-60 dance in just 7 seconds. Charging times via the onboard 10 kW charger Column1Column2Column3Charging SourceCharge Time in Standard ModeCharge Time in Extended Mode Level 2 - 40A/240V5 hours6 hours Level 2 - 30A/240V6.5 hours8 hours Level 2 - 16A/240V12 hours15 hours Level 1 - 12A/120V44 + hours or forever...Forever + some more 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV Exterior Design Think of it as the current RAV4 with a minimized intake opening behind the front grille. 5 LEDs arranged vertically in the standard fog light location act as DRLs and dim at night. In profile, a minor character line running through the door handles disappears as it transitions into the rear quarter panel. A deeper feature line follows the lower sill beginning at the lower front fender flare and ending at the rear. The lower rear edge of the glass sweeps forward -- a feature in common with many Japanese CUV, SUV, and hatchbacks nowadays. Given the SUV/CUV design, the large wheel gap looks aggressive but provides poor aero performance. However the RAV4 EV's coefficient of drag is a class leading .30 thanks to an almost totally enclosed under-body, mostly enclosed grille, and a unique (but ungainly) rear spoiler. At the rear, it’s a stair stepped box with a sharp cutoff of the rear hatch. I am not a fan of boxy rear ends but they sure are functional! Exterior Features This vehicle is very well equipped. The RAV4 EV features LED low beam projector headlamps with halogen high beams. In addition, an easy to use dial allows manual leveling of the lights from within the cabin when the vehicle changes significantly in pitch due to a heavy load. Matching the previously mentioned DRLs, the rear combination lights are composed of LEDs. 2012 Toyota RAV4EV Interior Design It is warm, comfortable, and inviting but like most recent Toyota interiors it feels a few years behind the segment's best. Easy to use controls are standard for Toyota and the RAV4 is no different. It incorporates one of the most comprehensible display packages available. A two color dash and chrome inserts on the central vent controls add some pizzazz but the shiny 8 in touch screen bezel looks out of place amidst rough textured plastics making up the rest of the dash. One feature I hope inspires other manufactures is the capacitive control panels for both HVAC and seat heaters. Not only were the buttons generous with easy to read larger fonts, they are some of the first to be operable with gloved hands. Missing are radio tuning and volume controls near the touch screen -- both functions are now SW controlled via the touch screen or convenient steering wheel controls. In lieu of a mini or full sized spare, the RAV4 EV is equipped with an Emergency Tire Puncture Repair Kit saving 126 lbs. The RAV4 EV is comfortable and functional but isn't going to win an interior design award. 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV Infotainment How does an 8 in touch screen with navigation with backup camera, EnTune with AM/FM/MP3/WMA playback capability, SiriusXM Satellite Radio (includes three-month trial subscription to XM Select Package), HD Radio with iTunes Tagging, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod connectivity and control, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, advanced voice recognition, and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology sound? Do not try to say all of that fast -- it isn't even the full list of capabilities! On the telematics front, a Charge Management app can remotely report your RAV4 EV's SoC, display estimated driving range, and set your recharge start time. You can also remotely turn on the climate control, get a reading of the cabin temperature, and turn off the heat or air conditioning. With the Charging Station Map, you can search for charging stations near you, filter results by Level 1 or 2, and view additional information such as charging station hours of operation, phone number, and number of chargers. Finally using the Vehicle Finder app, you can view a map of your current location, your vehicle's last known location, and directions to navigate back to it. 2012 Toyota RAV4EV Passenger and Cargo Volumes The EPA passenger volume is a rather large 108.2 cu. ft. This is larger than every midsize sedan available anywhere and it feels big on the inside yet small on the outside. This seeming contradiction is due to shorter overhangs allowing easy location of the corners vs. the guessing required by some of the larger crossovers and SUVs. The turning radius is typical for a vehicle in this class; don't expect the nimbleness of a Yaris. 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV Front and Rear seat room Excellent room. My knees were not touching the back of the front seats and rarely do we sit in a vehicle where this does not occur. The RAV4 EV really excels when it comes to storage capability. The side-hinged hatch provides a cavernous 37.2 cu. ft. of volume with the seats up. This is an imminently usable volume with squared off proportions -- the full capacity is available for your grocery shopping trip needs. The Prius v’s 34.3 cu. ft. of cargo capacity is considered a rather large hatch but doesn't come close to this level of utility. Drop the rear seats and whooa, 73 cu. ft. is available for whatever you have in mind from Home Depot or the local Ace Hardware. Have a large family that needs to be fed? This opening will swallow that weekly grocery load quite easily. 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV Safety The RAV4 EV incorporates all the safety features of the conventional model including Front, Side, and Side Curtain airbags. In harmony with the rest of the Toyota lineup, this vehicle is equipped with Toyota’s Star Safety System including Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Traction Control (TRAC), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Smart Stop Technology (SST), and Hill Start Assist Control (HAC). Battery Protection - To protect the large capacity Li-Ion battery itself, there are a number of safety features unique to the RAV4 EV. The battery modules are encased in a structural support surrounded by an exterior, extruded aluminum enclosure. Large aluminum rocker extrusions act as structural attachments to provide further impact protection. Steel ramps were also added to the front of the undercarriage to deflect collision forces around the battery enclosure. In a rear impact, the battery’s rear mounting brackets can separate the battery from the body for superior protection from impingement. The RAV4 missed an IIHS Top Safety Pick with a lower than expected roof crush strength test. It also earned 4 of 5 stars on the tougher NHTSA crash tests. We suspect the RAV4 EV will earn similar ratings from both agencies once it has been tested. Driving Impressions Ride and Handling is car like for a Crossover. The usual cushy Toyota ride is evident and while some may wish for a bit more “tuning” the soft ride is welcome for 98% of our daily routines. Road feel and turn in are a bit vague. Where the RAV4 EV really comes alive is straight line performance in either Sport or Normal modes. In Sport, the vehicle is just plain fast making what appears to be a rather hefty 4,032 pound curb weight feel more like a 3,200 pound mid-size sedan. Just 7.0 seconds to 60 mph from a standing start! When placed in normal mode, a more sedate and C-segment dusting 8.6 seconds is on tap. Of course none of us would revel in using all of that power so where the RAV4 EV really shines is its total electric range with the extended mode charge. 103 miles may be its rating; the following will do more to explain its real range capability than anything I can type. Started with SoC at 1 pip over ¾: 5 miles/kWh over 59 miles or over 200 miles expected range when driving along the very congested Highway 1 along the Pacific coast from Newport to almost Dana Point, CA and back. With > 40 kWh of pack available to use, that is a touch over 200 miles and this is with heavy stop light to stop light traffic! In addition, another mixed highway drive route revealed the RAV4 EV at 65 mph allows 3 miles/kWh or over 120 miles range in extended mode. This was with the A/C running in its minimalistic ECO Lo mode making for a very comfortable drive as temperatures climbed! Considering the above, range anxiety is not really a problem... though charge anxiety could certainly rear its head with lengthy charging times even on a mid grade level 2 connection. On the performance front, it has all anyone would ever need from a CUV/SUV. In terms of utility, there is no other BEV capable of providing either the utility or usability offered by the RAV4 EV. I doubt we will see one off-road anytime soon but it has the ground clearance, approach and departure angles to handle a bit of it if an owner feels the need. The only item I am not sure of is demand at this price point. While loaded, $40K with the tax breaks is a lot of $’s. Then again, a fully loaded 2012 RAV4 Limited comes in at a little over $28,500 and when you consider the cost of a few years worth of fuel, the RAV4 EV starts to looks like a relative bargain. 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV overlooking the Pacific Performance for those who live by the specs and efficiency for us; yet another in a long line of efficient Toyota's worth considering.