4. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: Better by Far
Base-price range: $29,270-$34,510
EPA fuel-economy rating: 34/31/33 mpg city/highway/combined
It’s not just stellar fuel economy that makes this the best all-around RAV4, it’s the livelier performance from its gas-electric powertrain. Like all 2016 examples of this popular compact crossover, the Hybrid benefits from styling updates to nose, tail, and lower body sides and from new safety features. Instead of relying solely on a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine, the Hybrid teams a special 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with two electric motors, one to boost power, a second that engages automatically to drive the rear wheels, providing standard all-wheel drive.
Net output is 194 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque, a welcome boost over the gas-only versions’ 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet. At 8.1 seconds, the Hybrid is a second quicker 0-60 mph. The electric motor’s instant torque helps offset its extra 300 pounds of curb weight and gives it much better throttle response. Fuel-economy ratings beat those of the gas-only awd RAV4 counterparts by 55 percent in city driving, 7 percent on the highway, and 32 percent combined. This is not a plug-in hybrid; it recharges via regenerative braking and electric-only range is less than a mile. But the upcharge for the Hybrid is minimal, the XLE model starting just 2.5 percent above the gas-only awd XLE and the top-line Limited just 2 percent higher than its gas counterpart. Newly optional for the XLE and standard on Limited are automatic pre-collision braking and lane-departure warning. Limited models also gain a standard blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.