Toyota joins the new crop of electric vehicle makers with its RAV4 EV, using a driveline sourced from partner Tesla Motors. Toyota's is the first SUV among the new crop of electric vehicles, although it's the second time Toyota has put an electric drive system in the RAV4 model.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

The view under the hood consists of an inverter and power control electronics. Deeper down is a 154-horsepower electric motor driving the front wheels, connected to a 41.5-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

The battery and other electric drive components do not intrude on the cabin space, keeping the RAV4 EV as a five-passenger SUV.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

One perk of the RAV4 EV for Californians is access to High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, a particular benefit in the heavy traffic of Los Angeles.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

The RAV4 EV boasts more cargo space than most of the new electric vehicles on the market, but that probably won't be a big factor for most buyers.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

The cabin, with surfaces covered in hard plastics, feels somewhat less than luxurious.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

The rear seats fold down to maximize cargo space, and offer plenty of legroom when in the up position.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

The electric power steering has a very neutral feeling, while the extra 800 pounds from the battery, slung low, making cornering an adventure.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

Toyota uses an LCD for the instrument cluster, displaying vehicle speed in a digital format. A gauge on the left shows power usage and remaining range.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

The center LCD in the dashboard can show a split view, with navigation on the left and power usage on the right, in this configuration.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

Toyota programmed some electric-vehicle-specific screens into the RAV4 EV, such as this energy usage monitor.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

As in other Toyota vehicles, the RAV4 EV gets Entune, Toyota's connected vehicle technology. Entune depends on the driver having a smartphone running the Entune app, and uses its data connection to power apps in the dashboard. For the RAV4 EV, Toyota adds some electric-vehicle-specific functions.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

Entune's charging station map is really more of a list, and displays 24 results near the vehicle or centered on another location.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

Entune also includes Bing search, making it possible to search for local businesses, then feed an entry to the navigation system.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

On a smartphone, owners can use Entune to remotely check the RAV4 EV's charging status.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Screenshot by Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The app also shows charging stations in a map format, making it easy to find concentrations of stations in a particular area.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Screenshot by Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Of course, the RAV4 EV has typical cabin technologies, such as a Bluetooth hands-free phone system.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

The car uses its satellite radio connection to bring in traffic, weather, stocks, and sports information.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

HD Radio is included standard in the RAV4 EV.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

The audio system supports iOS integration, USB drives, and Bluetooth audio streaming. In addition, Entune includes Pandora and iHeartRadio.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

The RAV4 EV comes with a rather mediocre six-speaker audio system.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

The only driver assistance feature is a backup camera, which is useful considering the SUV style of the vehicle.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
Up Next

Six generations of the Ford Mustang (pictures)