Consumer reports, like the EPA, does not drive them like a hybrid should be driven for best MPG. Not to mention they were testing in the winter. The simple fact that they only got 26mpg is proof enough that they were doing it wrong. You 'd have to try pretty hard to get no better than 26mpg in town.
Only had ours for about 550 miles so far but it is averaging 33.3 since we picked it up. Driving so far is 95% city and most of that in Econ mode. Very pleased so far.
In order to have apples-to-apples comparisons, I believe CR drives all their cars on pretty much the same schedule. It wouldn't make sense for them to drive a hybrid any differently since that would screw up their comparisons to other vehicles.
I'd guess that a lot, if not most, drivers of hybrids are going to drive them just like they drive their non-hybrids.
Since the article is behind a pay-wall, it's hard to tell how they test but it seems clear from a general perusal of the reviews of the Rav4 hybrid that most if not all of the reviewers got far better mileage than 26 MPG. I'd like to see CR publish their testing protocol publicly so educated consumers could understand why their mileage is such an outlier.
The inaccurate assessment by Consumer Reports does not seem fair to me or at least to Toyota. It does not impact me though as I know for a fact I get significantly better MPG than they are reporting and above the EPA rating for city and also somewhat better for highway. I'm averaging close to double the average real world 19 MPG I was getting with my 2006 Sienna XLE AWD. A great vehicle it was (for me) and nothing I complained about MPG wise but I do love going further between fill ups with the RAV4 and then pumping less to complete the fill up.
I wonder how much faster I would get around my city (town) if I drove the way Consumer Reports does for their testing? Oh, and how much more brake wear, tire wear, ... (cost) I would have to drive that way. It is a hybrid CUV not a sport car.
Except that there's almost no detail in the attachment. For example, at what speeds was the vehicle driven and for how long? How much idle time at stop lights? What sort of acceleration and braking was employed and how often? What were the temperature and road conditions? I assume that the car was empty except for the driver but it would be nice to know. I realize this is a track and not a real road but all of these factors are significant in testing any car and especially with a hybrid.
All in all, 26 MPG seems so out of line with my own experience that I have a hard time believing that it represents any likely drivers likely mileage. Heck, I beat 26 MPG driving back from picking my son up from college this week even though the car was loaded with three adults and about 350 lbs of stuff. This was partly highway but also included about 2 hours of low-speed driving due to traffic and a bad accident. So unless CR tested the Rav4 hybrid pulling a trailer uphill in winter, I don't believe that 26 MPG city is realistic.
Whatever CR is doing it affects all their test vehicles pretty much the same, the 2016 gas Rav4 got 16mpg, the CRV got 18mpg, the LexusNX300h got 23mpg which is the same platform as the Rav4 HV, just weighs a bit more.
I find this entire thread quite amusing. CR has a procedure that they put all the test vehicles through and it's consistent so that you can compare one vehicle to another. They are making no claims that their mpg numbers are absolute or that your numbers will duplicate theirs. It would appear that their city driving cycle is more severe than most folks actual driving style and yet the Rav4 Hybrid still got 26 mpg. By comparison the CRV got 18 and the gas Rav4 got 17. All these numbers are well below the EPA city figures. OTOH, their Rav4 Hybrid highway figure of 36 is well above the EPA rating. Why isn't anyone complaining about that?
"I find this entire thread quite amusing. CR has a procedure that they put all the test vehicles through and it's consistent so that you can compare one vehicle to another. They are making no claims that their mpg numbers are absolute or that your numbers will duplicate theirs. It would appear that their city driving cycle is more severe than most folks actual driving style and yet the Rav4 Hybrid still got 26 mpg. By comparison the CRV got 18 and the gas Rav4 got 17. All these numbers are well below the EPA city figures. OTOH, their Rav4 Hybrid highway figure of 36 is well above the EPA rating. Why isn't anyone complaining about that?"
To answer the first part of your reply - CR has a reputation as a highly competent and object source for evaluation of consumer products. People rely on their results - see link below for an example and will draw faulty conclusions. That's not to say that they get everything right of course, but it's fair to comment on their results when people's personal experience seems at odds with their results. This is especially true with something that you can measure like a car's MPG. If CR came out and said that their test was not intended to be a realistic approximation of typical usage that would be different but in the absence of such a statement it's not surprising to see the reactions posted here.
As to the hybrid rating being higher, you have a point - people who like the car are more likely to criticize something excessively negative than excessively positive. More than that, however, the people on this forum are much more likely to be the type of drivers that take steps to raise their mileage than to lower it so 36MPG highway doesn't clash with their real world experiences as much as 26MPG city does. Obtaining 36MPG highway is quite possible under the right conditions.
I find it impossible to believe the Consumer Reports highway mileage for the RAV hybrid would be 36 mpg. At highway speed, the gas engine would be mostly engaged and expected to be similar to other RAVs with the 2.5L engine. The occasional input from the electric motor and the e-CVT are going to improve things, but not to that extent.
EPA website says 34 mpg City, 31 Hwy. This seems to be backed up by Fuelly.com and by a lot of reports from owners here. CR says 26 City, 36 Hwy. I think they flipped their numbers. I am a long time CR advocate, appreciate their testing methods, but they do make mistakes. The EPA is never that far off, contrary to what some people say.
The Rav4 Hybrid doesn't have the same engine as the gas Rav4, it's basically the same 2.5L AR engine but the 2AR-FXE Atkinson cycle has different cams and pistons, it produces less power but is more efficient. CR isn't the only tester to get better than EPA fuel economy, MT and others have too. CR's highway test is a 20 mile back and forth route at 65mph using test equipment that measures the fuel used All of their tests are done the same way, so all vehicles reflect the lower city mpg as I pointed out previously, using their city test data for comparison the Hybrid Rav4 kicked the competition's arse, the CRV got 18mpg and the 2016 gas Rav4 got 16mpg for comparison. In my short 15 mile highway tests at 50mph just using the displayed mpg I can easily maintain 42mpg, so 36mpg at 65mph is very believable.