Toyota’s compact SUV, the RAV4, has been a best-seller in the United States since its inception in 1994. Over the past two decades and then some, the RAV4 has sold over 2.4 million units. Now, the nameplate has an eighth variant joining its American lineup — the Toyota RAV4 hybrid. The 2016 model year of the RAV4 marks the SUV’s fourth generation, and adding a hybrid version to the nameplate is just one of many updates to the vehicle’s design.
The 2016 RAV4 features new styling that mimics the appearance of Toyota’s passenger vehicles. Features across the entire RAV4 family include standard all-wheel drive, rear view camera, Hill Start Assist, five-passenger seating and the Entune Infotainment System. Versatile seating allows for up to 70 cubic feet of cargo storage when the back rows are down.
The RAV4 Hybrid pairs the 2.5-liter gas engine with electric motors that power both the front and rear axles. This combination yields an output of 194 HP and an EPA-estimated 34 mpg in the city.
The RAV4 hybrid and other variants in the family are now available in the United States for the 2016 model year. The entry level RAV4 begins at $24,350, while upgrading to the hybrid model ups the price to $28,370.
Toyota recently announced at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit that they were using a satellite research vehicle based on the Mirai fuel cell car in order to investigate the uses of implementing satellite technology across production vehicles. This new research could give Toyota vehicles the ability to communicate with one another via satellite, and the brand is meeting with various upcoming companies around the world that could assist them in the pursuit of this feature.
The Mirai-based car in Detroit, for example, utilizes flat antennae technology from emerging company Kymeta. These “flat antennae” are different from traditional satellite tech such as the recognizable “dish,” instead using liquid crystal and software that actively detects and tracks satellite signals. Potential uses for satellite technology in vehicles includes distributing vehicle data, providing stable connections to emergency contacts, and allowing vehicles to communicate with one another.
The Mirai-based satellite research vehicle is only the first prototype of an ongoing relationship between Toyota and Kymeta. Prior to the partnership, Kymeta has already managed to get 8,000 miles of road testing with satellite-equipped vehicles, and Toyota has invested $5 million in the emerging brand to encourage further technology research and development.