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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently in January 2022, a snowstorm caused a shutdown of I-95 in Virginia. People were stuck in their vehicles OVERNIGHT in cold winter conditions. This has prompted me to wonder again, how exactly does my 2017 RAV4 heat the cabin. Does it use waste heat from the ICE as do traditional ICE-only automobiles? Is that the only source of cabin heat? Is there an electric heater? Is there a heat pump? Can my 2017 RAV4 Hybrid generate cabin heat on battery power alone?

I believe knowing how your vehicle works can in rare instances be a matter of survival. This is especially true if you had to know how long the cabin heat would last. I live in the California desert, but on a mountain top where we do get snow and sometimes HEAVY snow and ice where the highways and mountain passes do get shut down. Parts of these roads have long stretches with no exits where even trying to walk out would be hard. It's rare but I prefer to know and be prepared because, sh!* happens. Also, I do travel interstate by road sometimes, where even if you plan and check ahead of time you can get into weather situations and conditions you didn't expect because you are not familiar with the territory.

For that matter, does the A/C work off of the ICE or by battery power, or both?
 

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For the 2017 Hybrid the heat is
coming from the ICE. There are versions with a PTC heater but that is just to provide a tiny amount of heat during the warm up cycle. The ICE does not have an electric waterpump so without the engine running the heater stops quite quickly because there is no circulation of coolant anymore when the ICE is off.

The AC is electric and works with the engine off as well but when the battery gets low it starts the ICE again.
 

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AC works off the HV battery for all hybrids. As the HV battery begins to get low, the ICE will start to ensure the health of the HV battery.

Heat for Hybrids might be off of a traditional coolant heater core, OR certain model year Hybrids began using a heat pump. If off a coolant based heater core, the ICE will kick in.
Your owners manual should go into enough detail explaining how the HVAC system works for your model year.

Ideally one should always carry some survival equipment. Blanket, change of clothes, etc. Such items would NOT occupy much space and weighs very little, not impacting mpg.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
For the 2017 Hybrid the heat is
coming from the ICE. There are versions with a PTC heater but that is just to provide a tiny amount of heat during the warm up cycle. The ICE does not have an electric waterpump so without the engine running the heater stops quite quickly because there is no circulation of coolant anymore when the ICE is off.

The AC is electric and works with the engine off as well but when the battery gets low it starts the ICE again.
Wow. So no heat in my 2017 RAV4 Hybrid without the gasoline engine running. That seems how it is because I don't notice much heat at startup. Thank goodness I have seat warmers. They work off of the battery. I know that.
 

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The heated seats work of the 12V battery so that will in turn deplete the HV battery which causes the ICE to start.

The 5th generation Prime is using a heatpump for the cabin heat. The 1.6kWH battery of your 2017 hybrid doesn't have enough power to run a heatpump for an extended time.
 

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You will last MUCH LONGER in a hybrid, while stuck in a VA type event, than other current types of vehicles.
Second best is the good old standby, an I C E.
Lastly is the vehicle you don’t want to be in under those conditions…. An E V.
 

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I have a 2021 but I'm sure the behavior is similar to the 2017.

Mine consistently turns the ICE on/off as needed to maintain heat. Heated steering wheel and seats run off battery power which is nice.

I imagine it's still better than a traditional ICE which has to have the engine on to have any heat at all. At least the hybrid seems to turn the engine off after it successfully gets the heat at the level you want it to be, and then only turns the ICE on back on after the car starts getting colder.
 

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Interesting question and great info! I have a 2016 Hybrid and have noticed of course the on/off behavior. My brother has a '21 Rav4 Prime and I *believe that one can for sure do the A/C for quite a while without the ICE turning on, and maybe run the heater as well?
 

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Interesting question and great info! I have a 2016 Hybrid and have noticed of course the on/off behavior. My brother has a '21 Rav4 Prime and I *believe that one can for sure do the A/C for quite a while without the ICE turning on, and maybe run the heater as well?
The Primes have a heat pump, but it is a complicated system that can also use ICE heat.
 
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