Say hello to the newest version of Australia’s most popular passenger vehicle: the 2022 Toyota RAV4 XSE 2WD Hybrid.

While commercial utes like the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger continue to duke it out for overall top spot, Toyota’s family crossover is a consistent podium finisher every month, and there’s pretty much daylight between it and the nearest competitor.

Demand is so high right now that any RAV4 Hybrid variant will have you waiting 12 months or more from the day you order, and any vehicles on dealer lots are being advertised well above retail pricing.

Toyota added the mid-spec XSE grade for the 2022 model-year, as a hybrid-only proposition sitting between the GXL and Cruiser grades offering black pack styling and an equipment list that likewise splits its siblings in the line-up.

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WATCH: Paul’s video review of the RAV4 Edge AWD Hybrid

How much does the Toyota RAV4 XSE 2WD Hybrid cost?

On test we have the front-wheel drive version of the hybrid-only RAV4 XSE, priced from $43,250 plus on-road costs.

If you want Toyota’s E-Four all-wheel drive setup, that’ll cost you a further $3000. The XSE grade is $2800 more than the equivalent RAV4 GXL and $2500 more affordable than the equivalent RAV4 Cruiser.

See the ‘What do you get?‘ section further down for a more detailed spec breakdown.

2022 Toyota RAV4 pricing:

  • Toyota RAV4 GX 2WD: $34,400
  • Toyota RAV4 GX 2WD Hybrid: $36,900
  • Toyota RAV4 GX AWD Hybrid: $39,900
  • Toyota RAV4 GXL 2WD: $37,950
  • Toyota RAV4 GXL 2WD Hybrid: $40,450
  • Toyota RAV4 GXL AWD Hybrid: $43,450
  • Toyota RAV4 XSE 2WD Hybrid: $43,250
  • Toyota RAV4 XSE AWD Hybrid: $46,250
  • Toyota RAV4 Cruiser 2WD: $43,250
  • Toyota RAV4 Cruiser 2WD Hybrid: $45,750
  • Toyota RAV4 Cruiser AWD Hybrid: $48,750
  • Toyota RAV4 Edge AWD: $50,200
  • Toyota RAV4 Edge AWD Hybrid: $52,700

Prices exclude on-road costs

Key rivals include:

Prices exclude on-road costs unless specified (D/A)

What is the Toyota RAV4 XSE 2WD Hybrid like on the inside?

A subtle blue-on-black theme is at play in the XSE, with black leatherette and padded surfaces offset by blue contrast stitching and some similarly coloured inserts on the seats.

If you’ve ever sat in a current-generation RAV4, there’s not much else distinguishing this variant from the rest of the range if you don’t count the adventure-themed Edge.

A good number of padded surfaces, hardy grained leatherette trimmings, and sound ergonomics are hallmarks of the RAV4. It’s all pretty simple and well executed. No frills, no surprises.

Up front you have an 10-way electrically-adjustable driver’s seat which offers a wide range of adjustment to account for most body types, and there’s good reach and rake adjustment in the steering wheel. Front seat heating makes chilly Melbourne mornings a little more bearable.

Ahead of the driver is a 7.0-inch partially-digital cluster flanked by analogue gauges for things like temperature, fuel, and of course the hybrid power meter. The central display can be configured as a digital speedo atop trip computer information, or you can also have a more conventional virtual speedometer dial.

Those who like the more classic dial and needle treatment will notice the XSE’s lack of head-up display with additional digital speed readout. In camera-crazy Australia, it might be best to have the digitised setup for a quicker readout of your speed.

The 8.0-inch central touchscreen is due to be upgraded before the year’s end. While the current system is a vast improvement over previous iterations of Toyota product, the upgrade will be welcome in 2022.

The feature list does well on paper, but in operation the RAV4’s infotainment is at times slow, and feels a little dated when many rivals are really moving the game forward.

Native satellite navigation, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Bluetooth phone/audio and DAB digital radio mean it matches the competition in terms of feature set, and it’ll do the job most of the time.

However, the display is a little off the pace, as are response times. Occasionally it can be laggy, and Toyota continues to lock you out of most functions (such as navigation inputs) while the vehicle is moving, even if you have a passenger in the front seat.

Toyota has, thankfully, retained hard shortcut buttons along both sides of the display, as well as knobs for volume and tuning – some might call that ‘old school’ in 2022, but it’s also easy to use.

The XSE may not get the Cruiser’s nine-speaker JBL premium audio system, but the standard six-speaker arrangement does the job fine. We did have complaints of echoes when using the phone via Apple CarPlay, however, which seems to be a complaint each time I test a Toyota, as well as some Lexus products.

Beneath the tablet-style display are chunky, rubberised climate control dials which control the dual-zone HVAC system that also features rear air vents. They’re easy to use and there’s an ECO function to minimise power consumption.

There’s plenty of physical buttons that are logically laid out – no fiddly touch-capacitive controls or screen-based climate buttons here – and everything operates with a satisfying click, press or turn.

Further down is a nicely-sized cubby that can swallow a larger smartphone like my iPhone 13 Pro Max, and features a wireless charging pad amongst the USB-A and 12V inputs.

Even with my phone hardwired to the infotainment system for Apple CarPlay, there’s enough space for a larger phone and necessary cables.

The second row is a RAV4 strong point, remaining one of the better vehicles in the segment for rear accommodation.

Head, leg-, and knee room for two adults is great, and you can fit three across at a pinch. Worth noting is the driveline hump in the floor, but the centre seat is nice and flat so you’re not competing with neighbouring bums.

Amenities include the rear air vents, two USB charging points, a map pocket behind the front passenger seat, and bottle holders in the doors. There are also ISOFIX anchors on the two outer seats, and top-tether points across the backs of all three pews.

There’s no slide function for the rear bench unlike rivals like the Ford Escape, but the seatbacks can be reclined with a 60:40 split.

Further back there’s between 542L and 580L depending on the position of the boot floor. Toyota oddly doesn’t quote a capacity with the rear seats folded, but it’s suitably spacious, wide and square.

It’s on the higher side for the class, particularly the likes of the Ford Escape (556L), Hyundai Tucson (539L), Kia Sportage (543L) and Mazda CX-5 (442L).

There aren’t remote release levers for the rear seats which is a shame, but the cargo blind can be conveniently stowed under the boot floor.

Under said boot floor is a space-saver spare wheel. Unfortunately only the entry-level GX AWD Hybrid offers the option of a full-size spare.

What’s under the bonnet?

The RAV4 Hybrid features a 131kW/221Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine running the Atkinson cycle, teamed with an 88kW/202Nm electric motor and a 6.5Ah nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack.

System power is rated at a maximum 160kW in 2WD guise, with Toyota quoting separate torque outputs for the petrol engine (221Nm) and e-motor (202Nm) rather than a combined output. Opting for the E-Four electric AWD version adds a 40kW/121Nm electric motor on the rear axle, bumping system power to 163kW.

Toyota claims the RAV4 2WD Hybrid will use a combined 4.7L/100km, and can happily run on cheaper 91 RON unleaded in its 55-litre tank.

Using those claimed figures, the RAV4 should offer around 1170km of driving range – 3km less than the Haval’s theoretical figure.

How does the Toyota RAV4 XSE 2WD Hybrid drive?

The latest variant of Australia’s most popular SUV offers few surprises.

The 2.5-litre hybrid in the RAV4 is tried and tested, with versions of the same drivetrain featuring in a range of other Toyota and Lexus models. It offers good performance and benchmark real-world fuel efficiency.

Power delivery is relatively linear thanks to the well-calibrated powertrain management that sets off with the electric motor, then lets the petrol engine kick in as the speed or throttle input increases.

If you’re feather-light on the throttle on flat ground you can get to about 40km/h without firing up the petrol engine, though it feels as if the motor and nickel-metal hydride battery aren’t as powerful or energy dense as something like the Haval H6 Hybrid.

What does that mean? Well you’ll notice the RAV4 relies less on solely the electric motor under acceleration, though it will basically switch straight into EV mode once you’re off the throttle or coasting.

One thing you’ll notice is that the petrol engine can get a bit rumbly and noisy under load, which might discourage you from planting your right foot often.

It also doesn’t feel quite as punchy as the 160kW system output quote suggests – you won’t be beating a Ford Escape or Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI from the lights.

Ride and handling are highlights, however. The RAV4 strikes an almost perfect balance between comfort and dynamic engagement, with supple rebound and body control ironing out urban roads and rail crossings while fluid, accurate steering makes the front end feel keen and direct.

There’s a great degree of consistency and accuracy to how this vehicle drives, helping it shrink around you and meaning it’s a bit of fun. It’s no wonder so many Australians have fallen in love with the RAV4 as well as other TNGA-based Toyota products.

On the open road the RAV4 is nicely settled and offers great stability and road holding, and the hybrid powertrain does a good job humming away in the background. Occasionally you’ll see it dip into EV mode as well.

You will notice a little more road noise in the RAV4 compared to the Haval in our experience, another slight knock in the refinement category for the Toyota.

Toyota’s latest generation of assistance features are well-calibrated, particularly compared to previous iterations, with systems like adaptive cruise control, Lane Tracing Assist (centring), blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert all coming in handy in real-world scenarios.

What do you get?

RAV4 XSE highlights:

  • Black exterior accents
  • Black two-tone roof finish
  • 18-inch alloy wheels in gloss black
  • Black headliner and pillar garnish
  • Leather-accented door trims
  • Ambient lighting (model specific)
  • Softex ‘premium’ seat upholstery
  • Heated front seats
  • 10-way power adjustment with lumbar support (driver)
  • 7.0-inch driver supervision display
  • Electric tailgate

That’s on top of features from lower grades including:

  • 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Satellite navigation
  • 4.2-inch multi-information display
  • DAB digital radio
  • Heated, power-folding exterior mirrors
  • 60/40 split-fold rear seats and centre armrest
  • Dual-zone climate control (hybrid only)
  • LED headlights (parabolic, auto-levelling in petrol; projector in hybrid)
  • Automatic headlights
  • Automatic high-beam
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • 5 x USB ports
  • Leatherette-wrapped steering wheel
  • Front/rear carpet mats
  • Space saver spare tyre
  • Front and rear mud flaps
  • Electronic parking brake
  • Rear seat belt reminders
  • LED interior lighting
  • ‘Premium’ grille and bumpers
  • Privacy glass
  • Leatherette-wrapped shifter
  • Self-dimming rear-view mirror
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Keyless entry and start
  • Wireless phone charging
  • Reversing camera with active guide lines
  • Roof rails
  • Illuminated interior door switches

Is the Toyota RAV4 XSE 2WD Hybrid safe?

The Toyota RAV4 wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on tests conducted in 2019.

It scored of 93 per cent for adult occupant protection, 89 per cent for child occupant protection, 85 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 83 per cent for safety assist.

Standard safety features across the range include:

  • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
    • Pedestrian detection (day/night)
    • Cyclist detection (day)
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane Tracing Assist
  • Reversing camera
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Adaptive cruise control  
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Trailer sway control
  • 7 airbags incl. driver’s knee

RAV4 Edge variants adds rear cross-traffic assist as well as low-speed AEB in forward and reverse for static objects when parking.

How much does the Toyota RAV4 XSE 2WD Hybrid cost to run?

The RAV4 is covered by Toyota’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre new vehicle warranty. The hybrid system’s battery is guaranteed for up to 10 years if regular servicing is maintained through the Toyota dealer network.

Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres, whichever comes first. Each visit is capped at $230 for the first five years, which is amongst the most affordable in the segment.

As for real-world consumption, we saw an indicated 5.7L/100km in mixed conditions which included plenty of freeway driving mixed in with peak-hour commuting. That’s 1.0L/100km up on the manufacturer’s claim, but it’s worth noting it’ll run on cheaper 91 RON regular unleaded.

With its 55-litre fuel tank in mind, you should be able to go 965km between fills based on our real-world readout, which once upon a time was only achievable by diesel engines with long-range tanks on lengthy freeway runs.

CarExpert’s Take on the Toyota RAV4 XSE 2WD Hybrid

The RAV4 XSE is a strong offering from the Japanese giant. It offers the in-vogue RAV4 Hybrid package with a fresh black pack style that should offset some of the crazy demand for high-spec Cruiser models.

It’s also likely if you place an order for one today you’re probably going to get the upgraded MY23 version with its better infotainment (incl. wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto), as well as enhanced safety systems including emergency steering assist and a junction assist function for the AEB. Read more about the upcoming changes here.

The flip side is you could be waiting up to 18 months for a high-spec RAV4 Hybrid at the moment, which is a very long time unless Toyota can open supply further. It makes any version you can get your hands on very hot property indeed.

Regardless, you could do much worse than this RAV4 XSE Hybrid. It’s very good value, is very efficient in real-world driving, and packs in plenty of practicality for the family – or whatever and whoever you choose to use it for.

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