Although Toyota gained a lot of expertise in electrifying car power trains with its Prius program, it turned to Tesla for its RAV4 EV. The electric version of the RAV4 SUV took just 20 months to develop with the help of Tesla.
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Toyota made a number of aerodynamic changes to the RAV4 body, such as reducing the amount of air intake at the front and fitting it with a smooth underside. To help reduce electricity usage in the vehicle, Toyota replaced the low-beam headlamps with LEDs.
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Despite the Toyota EV cover under the hood, Tesla provided the power control module, electric motor, and battery pack to Toyota. These are similar components to those found in the Model S. Turning the RAV4 EV's front wheels is a 115-kilowatt electric motor, producing 218 pound-feet of torque in Normal drive mode, and 273 pound-feet in Sport.
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Toyota fit the battery pack, a flat slab containing hundreds of lithium ion cells, underneath the RAV4 EV. This battery pack has a 41.8-kilowatt-hour capacity, although Toyota limits it to 35 kilowatt-hours in Normal charge mode. This battery pack gives the RAV4 EV an EPA range of 103 miles.
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The battery pack increases the weight of the RAV4 EV over the standard RAV4 by about 450 pounds. To accomodate this extra weight, Toyota beefed up the suspension. At the same time, the location of the battery moves the center of gravity to a much lower position in the RAV4 EV, contributing to better handling.
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The standard J1772 charge port is located on the left rear fender, the same spot as the standard RAV4's fuel filler. Because of the large battery capacity, it takes over 44 hours to charge from a 110-volt source. From a 40-amp, 240-volt source, that time goes down to 6 hours.
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The tailgate swings out to the side, revealing a large, flat load floor. In addition, the rear seats fold down flat with the load floor.
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Toyota covers the seat bolsters with SofTex, which has a leatherlike feel, and uses fabric inserts for seat and back. The front seats also have seat heaters that run up the back, designed to keep the driver warm without relying heavily on the climate control system.
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The lack of any transmission tunnel means a flat floor for rear-seat passengers.
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Toyota makes a number of changes to the cabin of the RAV4 EV, such as using a digital instrument cluster and a new head unit.
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Oddly, the instrument cluster shows two range figures, one on each side. The right side displays the maximum potential range, while the left side shows the range with the current climate control settings and auxiliary devices running.
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Toyota opted for its Prius-style shifter in the RAV4 EV. As the vehicle uses a single-speed gearbox, there is no need for a real shifter.
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Toyota wanted to fit the RAV4 EV with a larger than in the standard RAV4. To get this 8-inch LCD into the dashboard, Toyota had to sacrifice bezel buttons, along with tuning and volume knobs. That decision lowers usability, although the steering wheel retains a volume control button.
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Toyota puts an iPod-like home button at the bottom of the LCD, which opens up this main menu screen. The problem with this configuration is that, to go from navigation to audio, the driver must first go back to the main menu.
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The navigation system stores its maps on a hard drive, and offers this range overlay. The outer circle shows maximum potential range, while the inner circle shows the range with climate control and other auxiliary devices running.
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Toyota integrated its Entune app system with this head unit, and adds some EV-specific features. From this screen, the driver can look up EV charging stations, and even filter them based on whether they offer 120-volt or 240-volt sources.
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The Entune app for the RAV4 EV also offers functions specific to electric cars. Using it, a RAV4 EV owner can set the charging schedule, find charging stations, and locate the car.
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