Toyota Electric & Hybrid SUV Lineup: All 6 Models Previewed
Shopping for a Toyota SUV or crossover? Perhaps it’s time to go green with a hybrid, PHEV, or all-electric option. Here are the six models you should be looking at – from compact crossover to a 7-passenger family hauler.
Toyota was the first automaker to market with a mass-produced hybrid passenger vehicle, when it launched the Prius in Japan in 1997. It went on sale in Canada in 2000, and since then, the automaker has always offered at least one hybrid in its lineup.
As the Prius became a more common sight, and Toyota installed the system into more conventionally-styled cars such as the Camry, consumers gradually began to see them not as oddball machines, but as regular vehicles that happened to get better mileage. Even as other automakers added hybrids to their portfolios, for most buyers, Toyota was “the hybrid company.”
Hybrids are still the core of Toyota’s electrified vehicles, but it has since added plug-in hybrid (PHEV) capability to some models, and it is preparing to launch its first all-electric vehicle. Two of its vehicles, the Venza and Sienna, have recently relaunched as all-new models that come only with hybrid powertrains.
bZ4X | Photo: Toyota
- Segment: Compact SUV
- Expected Range: 400 km (FWD estimate)
Toyota plans to release a series of all-electric vehicles under the Toyota bZ (for “Beyond Zero”) umbrella brand, and its first will be the bZ4X crossover. It’s expected to go on sale in Canada in the middle of 2022, with pricing and full specifications announced closer to its launch.
The bZ4X was jointly developed with Subaru, including its all-new, battery-specific platform. It’s about the size of a RAV4, and while some markets will get a front-wheel-drive version, including the U.S., the bZ4X will likely be offered only in all-wheel drive in Canada.
Two electric motors, one on each axle, make a combined 160 kW of power. The 72.8-kWh lithium-ion battery is under the floor, where it provides a lower centre of gravity and doesn’t affect interior space. The all-wheel system includes selectable drive modes and grip control, optimizing the vehicle for conditions such as sportier driving or light off-roading.
Venza | Photo: Toyota
- Segment: Mid-size Crossover
- Expected Range: 5.9/6.4/6.1 L/100 km city/highway/combined
The original Venza crossover launched for 2009, based on the Camry platform, and quickly became a popular model. It lasted in Canada until 2017, but the name returned on an all-new Venza for 2021, available strictly as a hybrid.
Now based on the RAV4 platform, the Venza uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine mated to the self-charging hybrid system; the combination makes a total of 219 horsepower. All-wheel drive is standard, with an electric motor powering up the rear wheels when extra traction is required. The lithium-ion battery is under the rear seat, with minimal effect on interior passenger and cargo volume.
It comes in three trim levels, all equipped with such features as heated seats, power-adjustable steering column, wireless charging, smartphone connectivity, power liftgate, and blind-spot monitoring. Upper trim levels add such items as a 12.3-inch infotainment screen, ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, head-up display, digital display rearview mirror, and bird’s-eye view camera.
RAV4 Hybrid | Photo: Toyota
- Segment: Compact SUV
- Expected Range: 5.8/6.3/6.0 L/100 km city/highway/combined
The RAV4 Hybrid adds a hybrid system to the conventional RAV4. Both versions use a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, but the Hybrid’s electric motor boosts the output to a maximum 219 horsepower. It automatically switches between gasoline, electricity, or a combination, depending on driving conditions. The battery self-charges using regenerative braking, or when necessary, the gasoline engine. The hybrid system shaves fuel consumption by 2 litres per 100 kilometres over the conventional RAV4 in combined city/highway driving.
The Hybrid comes in six trim levels, two more than the regular RAV4. All are all-wheel drive, with a separate electric motor that powers the rear wheels when extra traction is required.
All trim levels include adaptive cruise control, emergency front braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure assist, smartphone integration, dual-zone automatic climate control, and heated front seats. Other features, depending on trim, include heated steering wheel, navigation, wireless charging, bird’s-eye-view camera, hands-free liftgate, and 9-inch infotainment touchscreen.
RAV4 Prime | Photo: Toyota
- Segment: Compact SUV
- Expected Range: 68 km
The RAV4 Prime is the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the regular RAV4 hybrid. When plugged in and fully charged, it can run approximately 68 kilometres on electricity alone. When that stored charge depletes, the RAV4 Prime reverts to conventional hybrid operation. It will keep running as long as it has gas in the tank, even if it isn’t plugged in. That 68-km range may be enough for many people to travel almost exclusively on electricity if they recharge it regularly.
The RAV4 Prime uses the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine as the RAV4 Hybrid, but its system can create up to 302 horsepower. All-wheel drive is standard, with an electric motor to power the rear wheels as needed for traction. It comes in two trim levels with features including blind-spot monitoring, wireless charging, adaptive cruise control, emergency front braking, 8- or 9-inch touchscreen, heated steering wheel, and heated front and rear seats.
Highlander Hybrid | Photo: Toyota
- Segment: Mid-size SUV
- Expected Range: 6.6/6.8/6.7 L/100 km city/highway/combined
The Highlander Hybrid is similar to the conventional Highlander, but while it’s not as powerful, it’s considerably more fuel-efficient. The regular Highlander uses a V6 engine while the Highlander Hybrid contains a 2.5-litre four-cylinder with hybrid system that makes a combined 243 horsepower. The battery self-charges with regenerative braking and engine power, and the system automatically switches between gasoline, electricity, or a combination, depending on driving conditions.
All Highlander Hybrid trim levels are all-wheel drive with a rear electric motor that powers the rear wheels when extra traction is required. All come with three rows of seats for 7- or 8-passenger seating, depending on trim. All models include adaptive cruise control, emergency front braking, blind-spot monitoring, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and smartphone integration.
Higher trim levels add such items as a sunroof, hands-free power liftgate, rain-sensing wipers, wireless charging, heated steering wheel, head-up display, and dynamic torque vectoring on the all-wheel-drive system.
Toyota Sienna Hybrid
Sienna Hybrid | Photo: Toyota
- Segment: Minivan
- Expected Range: 6.6/6.5/6.5 L/100 km city/highway/combined (FWD); 6.8/6.6/6.7 L/100 km city/highway/combined (AWD)
When Toyota moved its minivan into its all-new fourth generation for 2021, it was strictly as a hybrid. It uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that combines with the hybrid system to make a maximum of 245 horsepower. The battery self-charges through regenerative braking or engine power, and the system automatically switches between gasoline, electricity, or a combination, depending on driving conditions.
The Sienna is available in front-wheel drive, or with electronic all-wheel drive that uses a rear electric motor to power the rear wheels when extra traction is required. Both versions come in three trim levels, and depending on the trim, with 7- or 8-passenger seating.
All models include adaptive cruise control, emergency front braking, lane departure assist, blind-spot monitoring, smartphone integration, automatic climate control, heated front seats and steering wheel, and dual power sliding doors. Upper trim levels add such items as a hands-free liftgate, navigation, wireless charging, premium stereo, and rear-seat entertainment system.
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