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It's been a long week... Monday my wife got a new 16 RAV4 limited in that dark purplish color that Toyota calls "Black Currant Metallic." Then on Saturday, I got a 16 RAV4 Hybrid limited (electric blue storm) for myself.

Overall impressions:

Compared to my previous car (Mazda CX-5), the Toyota's aren't as "spirited." Mazda definitely tends to favor drivers that like taking turns at speed, want to accelerate a bit quicker, and want to feel more connected to the road. On the other hand, the RAV4 is a quieter and smoother ride. I guess I'm getting old, so I don't mind a bit of disconnect from the road these days. Softer seats, less road noise, and pot holes that aren't quite as jarring can be a good thing. Oh, and the RAV4 has more gadgetry (even if the navigation is slightly worse than Mazda's tomtom navi.) I haven't had a chance to test the AWD in either RAV4. (I need to wait for a good 3-4 inches of snow for that.)

Compared to my wife's previous car (a Town and Country minivan)... well, about the only thing in common between the T&C and RAV4 is that they both have 4 wheels. So, no sense comparing them at all.

My initial impressions are that the gas and hybrid vehicles are nearly identical (with the obvious difference of drive trains.) The hybrid has the "bump" in the cargo area for the battery, a different mechanism for reclining the back seats, and some different displays on the dash. (hybrid has some battery related things, and gas has a neat AWD display that the hybrid doesn't have.)

I'm still playing with "entune", but it seems to work okay with an ipod touch and iHeartRadio. The JBL audio is passable, and perhaps even better than my CX-5's "bose" audio. It's not "great", but it's not bad either.

The navigation system is really bad. I thought the mazda "tomtom" navi was bad, but this is worse. Toyota must get their map data from Apple's first generation "apple maps", and the routing formulas seem to be based on a concept of "if we do this really badly, the user won't try to use it as often." It's good enough to get me from point A to point B, but for some reason it seems to prefer routes that are significantly longer (and I've even had it route me on unpaved roads that were little more than dirt hiking trails.) To me, the best stand-alone navi is still Garmin using Navtech map data. (Google's navigation is better, but Toyota likely won't ever support android auto.)

The voice commands are okay. I'm still trying to figure out the whole system going on in there. For some commands, I can just speak them directly... such as "call John Doe Home" or "Drive home." For other commands, it seems I have to select a category first and then speak the specific command. It's a significant downgrade from Android Auto (or Siri, I guess), but it's not completely terrible.

Playing with all the "toys" in the car can be distracting. Radar cruise control is awesome (though it's not extremely useful when your local roads are nothing but winding hills.) The lane sensing thing is also really nice, though I must admit that I did get into an argument with the car when it tried to push me back into a lane I was trying to leave (just because I was too lazy to put on my signal.) (It was the first time in my life that a car tried to steer for me.)

I've yet to play with the automatic braking thing. This is one of those safety features that's difficult to test... In the CX-5, I tested it by building a "wall" with cardboard boxes wrapped in aluminum foil - and then trying to drive into it. I might have to do something similar with the RAV4.

One of the things I thought was only a gimmick, but I've started to appreciate is the birds-eye view camera thing. That is really nice when parking in a tight space, pulling into a garage, etc. Much nicer than just the standard rear camera! I've also found it useful for navigating between two cars parked on the road, one on either size, leaving a very narrow passage between them.

I'm still not sure what I think about Toyota's "softex" material. It feels softer than the leather I'm used to, and I'm concerned if it's going to be as durable as leather (or even cloth.) I guess it's one of those things I haven't experienced before, so I'm cautious about it.

Finally, Toyota lies on their EPA gas fuel economy for the hybrid: While I was always +/-2 MPG of the EPA estimated on my CX-5, no matter what I do with this hybrid, I can't get less than 36 MPG. Perhaps when the weather cools back down, I'll get lower numbers.

Well, that's enough for a "introductory" post, isn't it?

So, I'll append a question:

Where can I get "electric blue storm" touch-up paint? (I always buy touch up paint with a new car... I was able to get it for my wife's color, but the dealer couldn't even ORDER it for mine... they said that Toyota doesn't have it yet.)

Thanks and take care
Gary
 

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Why do you want to go below 36 MPG? You should try and get it higher on hybrid. Right now on my avg. for the first tank still, i only get 34.4 MPG.
 

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Congrats on both RAV4s. Take some pics with the both of them together. I have a TRH and enjoying the drive and all the tech features.
 

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Now you have had some time, how do you find the acceleration, braking, overtaking and NVH when you compare both?

Thanks!
 

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I totally want to see a video of the brake assist actually work.

I wish dealerships would set up that card board box idea to test it out.
 

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+1 on the NAV. I am not sure what the issue is for improving this supposed feature. I found it easier to stick my old Magellan to the windshield and use that. It cost $100 and has free updates for life.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Now you have had some time, how do you find the acceleration, braking, overtaking and NVH when you compare both?
Overall, I like the hybrid better (when compared to the non-hybrid.) The accel is noticeably better (which, of course, makes overtaking better.)

The braking on the non-hybrid is more natural (for me.) When increasing pressure on the brake pedal quickly (but not "stomping" on it) the transition to friction brakes is noticeable and can be a shock when it's not expected. Basically, to me, it feels like the "stopping" power increases at a steady rate through the movement of the brake pedal, but then when the friction brakes kick in, there's a sudden increase in stopping power that doesn't feel natural. (This isn't a complaint - it's trying to describe the difference in braking.)

As for noise and vibration - the hybrid is quieter in all cases EXCEPT when the pseudo transmission is in a "low gear." (Of course, it's not really a "low" gear", but I really have no other way to describe a situation when the engine is running at a higher speed and the wheels aren't moving quickly.) The perfect example is accelerating when going up a steep hill. In this situation, I find the gas model is "calmer."

Finally, for handling, I think they are about the same.

Take care
Gary
 
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