7 Things You Should Know About the 2022 Toyota RAV4

2022 Toyota RAV4 XSE

by Chuck Giametta

1. The basics

Vehicle type: Compact crossover SUV; gas, hybrid, and plug-in-hybrid powertrains. front- and all-wheel drive. Base-price range: $27,740-$44,340 (includes $1,215 manufacturer’s delivery fee). Last major change: redesigned for model year 2019. Next expected change: midcycle refresh for model-year 2023. What’s New for ’22: All models get a locking glovebox and LED interior lamps. XLE and above get illuminated interior switches. Limited grade gets a power passenger seat.

Does well: Wide model range and choice of powertrains, good fuel economy, roomy, holds its value. Could do better: Smoother-running gas engine. Plug-in-hybrid Prime version is pricey. Also consider: Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape and Bronco Sport, GMC Terrain, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Cherokee, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Toyota Venza, Volkswagen Tiguan

2. So many RAV4s from which to choose

2022 RAV4 SE Hybrid

The 2022 RAV4 features one of the broadest lineups of any compact crossover. There are seven trim levels and three available powertrains: gas-only, conventional hybrid, and plug-in-hybrid. The plug-in is badged the Prime and, with 302 horsepower, is the most powerful RAV. It can travel 42 miles on electricity alone before going into hybrid mode. LE, XLE, XLE Premium, and Limited grades are shared by the gas and Hybrid lines. Trail-ready Adventure and TRD Off-Road trims are gas only. Sporty SE and XSE are Hybrid and Prime only. All-wheel drive (AWD) is standard on Hybrids and Primes and on the Adventure and TRD Off-Road. It’s optional in place of front-wheel drive on the other gas models.

Variety helps the RAV4 remain Toyota’s top-selling U.S. vehicle. It’s also America’s most popular compact crossover, comfortably outselling the Honda CR-V. Still, demand slipped 5.2 percent in a class up 4.4 percent in 2021. Stiffening competition contains a raft of newer rivals, including Toyota’s own 2021 Venza, essentially a RAV4 Hybrid with a more stylish body and a $4,000-higher price. The automaker’s 2023 bZ4X is among new pure-electric alternatives. And change is afoot for familiar nameplates such as the CR-V and Kia Sportage (due model-year-2023 redesigns), the all-new 2923 Mazda CX-50, the Hyundai Tucson (redesigned for ‘22), and the Nissan Rogue (redesigned for ’21). Ford introduced the Bronco Sport for ’21 and will refresh the Escape for ’23. 

2022 RAV4 TRD Off-Road

3. A broad selection of looks and powertrains

It won’t be fully redesigned until model-year 2026, but Toyota will freshen the 2023 RAV, updating infotainment and safety tech and tweaking styling without changing the basic look. The boldest 2022 RAVs are the Adventure and TRD Off-Road. Named for the Toyota Racing Division, the TRD has flared wheel arches, chunky tires on black TRD wheels, and, along with the Adventure, blackout trim and a unique split-bar upper grille. Along with the XSE Hybrid and XSE Prime, they also offer optional two-tone paint. The Hybrid and Prime have blue Toyota logos, an exclusive lower front fascia, and unique wheels. Primes also have a second fuel-filler-type door, on the right-rear fender, for the plug-in port.

All RAV4s incorporate a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Gas-only models use it alone and have 203 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque, and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is lackadaisical unless you floor the throttle. Hybrids team their engine with electric-motor assist for 219 net horsepower (Toyota doesn’t list torque). At 7.5 seconds 0-60 mph, they’re nearly a second swifter than gas-only models. At 5.7 seconds, the 302-horsepower Prime is quicker to 60 than any Toyota except the Supra sports car. It supplements its engine with more powerful motors and a higher-capacity battery than the Hybrid, though both use a continuously variable automatic transmission. Employing a system common to crossovers, gas-only AWD RAVs automatically shuffle power to the rear wheels to quell tire slip. The Hybrid and Prime achieve AWD with a dedicated electric motor for the rear wheels. In any application, the gas engine is unpleasantly gruff during acceleration. Some rivals have sportier handling but few ride more comfortably than the RAV4.

4. Fuel efficiency – fine to fantastic

2022 RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid accepts an initial battery charge from a residential or commercial grid

The 2022 RAV4 lineup is among the segment’s most fuel-efficient. The Hybrid and particularly the Prime are candidates for best-in-class. Depending on trim level, gas-only RAV4s rate between 27/35/30 mpg city/highway/combined and 28/35/30 with front-drive and 27/34/30-27/33/29 with AWD. With AWD standard, the Adventure rates 28/33/28, the TRD Off-Road 25/32/27, and the Hybrid 41/38/40. Both the Hybrid and Prime can run on gas, electricity, or a combination as sensors determine what’s optimal for power and economy. Electric-only range distinguishes them. Recharged solely by recapturing energy otherwise lost during braking and coasting, the Hybrid can travel a mile or two on battery power alone. The Prime can plug into a commercial or residential outlet for enough initial charge to travel an EPA-rated 42 miles on electric power alone. That’s among the best electric-only range of any plug-in-hybrid SUV or crossover on the market.

When not running exclusively on battery power, the Prime operates as a conventional hybrid, like the RAV4 Hybrid. On electricity, it rates 94 mpg-e — an EV’s miles-per-gallon-of-gasoline equivalent. (Zero-60 mph takes 9.2 seconds in pure-EV mode). Running as a conventional hybrid, the Prime rates 40/36/38 mpg city/highway/combined. Total range is about 600 miles. The XSE Prime’s paddle shifters allow the driver to “downshift” to increase brake torque for more energy regeneration. Both Primes let the driver choose when to employ electric-only propulsion Charging times are about 12 hours on a 120-volt household outlet, 4.5 hours with a 240-volt charger. XSE Prime models with the Premium Package get enhanced charging that cuts 240-volt time to 2.5 hours.

5. A roomy cabin, well-equipped

2022 RAV4 SE Hybrid

The tall roofline contributes to excellent headroom and good outward visibility. An available rearview camera mirror enables the driver to “see through” otherwise obstructive passenger heads or cargo. Front-seat spaciousness is par for the subcompact class. Rear legroom is tighter than in the CR-V and Volkswagen Tiguan, but the back seat is by no means cramped. Many rivals have larger door openings and a lower cargo floor. The Hybrid and Prime have the same cargo volume as gas-only RAV4s: an above-average 37.6 cubic feet behind the 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks and a slightly subpar 69.8 with them folded. A power liftgate is unavailable on the LE, optional on the Adventure and XLEs, standard otherwise. Hands-free operation is optional on the Limited models and on the Prime XSE.

Cabin materials are a praiseworthy blend of solid, grained plastics and soft-touch surfaces. LE and XLE models have fabric upholstery. Hybrid XLE Premium and Prime XSE get Toyota’s SofTex faux leather with fabric inserts. Other RAV4s have full SofTex. The Adventure has orange accents, the TRD red and, like the Prime SE, red stitching. The Hybrid XSE has blue stitching. Limiteds get upscale dark brown decor. Controls are well designed. Adventure, TRD, and Limited models have digital instead of analog gauges. Hybrid and Prime include range and battery-level readouts. We hope the model-year-’23 refresh makes available Venza’s 12.3-inch central-dashboard infotainment touchscreen, along with upgraded software and crisper graphics. For ’22, RAV4 screen size is maxed at 9 inches, on the XSE Prime. Other models use 7- or 8-inch displays. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Imbedded navigation for real-time mapping in the absence of a cell signal is included on Limiteds and optional on all but the LE.

6. Safety as a selling point

2022 RAV4 Prime

Laudably, every ’22 RAV4 comes with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0). It contains autonomous emergency braking designed to stop the crossover to mitigate a frontal collision with another vehicle, object, or pedestrian. Also included is lane-departure warning, adaptive radar cruise control that can maintain a set following distance from traffic ahead, and automatic high-beam headlights. A vital safety feature — blind-spot alert with rear cross-traffic detection – is optional on LE models and standard on all other RAV4s. Safety ratings are generally strong.

The 2022 RAV4 earns the maximum five stars overall in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 5-Star safety ratings. In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an influential insurance-industry sponsored research organization, the 2021 RAV4 merited a Top Safety Pick, the second-highest rating. It fell short of the top rating because the most effective headlights are not standard on all trim levels. Every RAV4 has LED headlamps. But the Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS), which automatically levels the headlamps and partially aims the beams into turns as the driver steers, is an exclusive option for the Hybrid Limited (included in $1,225 Advanced Technology Package) and the Prime XSE (in the $3,350 Premium Package). For ’23, we’d urge Toyota to give all RAV4s the bi-LED projector headlights currently standard on the Hybrid XSE and on all Limiteds and Primes.

7. Priced right, with good resale value

2022 RAV4 TRD Off-Road

Against direct rivals, RAV4 gas and Hybrid models are priced very competitively. RAV4 Prime models, starting at $41,015 for the SE and $44,340 for the XSE, are among the most expensive compact crossovers; loaded XSEs near $50,000. Still, high demand has the plug-ins often selling at or above sticker. And Prime buyers may qualify for electric-vehicle tax credits and in some states, may use high-occupancy-vehicle lanes. Among gas-only RAV4s, base-price range is $27,740-$36,240 with front-wheel drive. AWD versions span $29,140 for the AWD LE to $37,680 for the TRD Off-Road (all base prices include Toyota’s $1,215 delivery fee). RAV4 Hybrids come with AWD; their base-price range is $30,290-$38,790.

Trim levels share most equipment, regardless of powertrain type. Depending on grade, options include heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, heated steering wheel, wireless charging pad, surround-view camera, and power tilt/slid moonroof or Panoramic glass roof with a tilt/slide section. Regardless of model, RAV4s are sound investments. They retain 67 percent of their value after five years, according to independent automotive research site CarEdge.com. In the class, that trails only the Jeep Wrangler and CR-V (both 70 percent) and the Subaru Crosstrek (69 percent). Reliability is strong, too. During the first three years of ownership, the RAV4 model line finished second in class, behind the Buick Envision and ahead of the Subaru Forester, according to owner surveys by research firm JD Power.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]