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2012 Toyota RAV4 EV first drive: The electric SUV stands alone

Among the handful of electric cars hitting the market, the Toyota RAV4 EV scores a point for being the only SUV.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET

When I took the wheel of the Toyota RAV4 EV during an event in Los Angeles, two things stuck out: a Prius shifter on the console and the all-digital instrument cluster. Clearly, this SUV would not be a typical RAV4. That feeling was accentuated when pushing the start button produced a silent system check, the car booting up, as opposed to the crank of an internal combustion engine.

The exterior of the RAV4 EV also offered a few clues to the nature of its drivetrain, not least of which were the EV and Electric logos on all sides. By comparison, the lack of a large front grille seemed almost subtle.

One cue that few would notice without a spec sheet was the LED low-beam headlights, tucked away in their casings next to standard projector high beams. Toyota made a smart move here, reducing energy usage of the low beams, while reducing costs on the high beams, which get less use.

Click here to read the rest of the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV first drive.