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Discussion Starter #1
Haven't taken possession of our RAV4 Hybrid but was wondering if there's a simple guide / trick to find out when it's best to use what mode to achieve a good balance between fuel efficiency and reasonable acceleration /performance.

From my understanding, with the EV Mode (not even sure if you can lock into this mode), one just has to gently press against the accelerator pedal from a stand still or during stop and go traffic so that the vehicle can remain in EV mode (gasoline engine shut off) for the first 0.6 mile.

On the highway, does it makes sense to just leave the vehicle in ECO mode to lower the toll the A/C has on fuel economy? We don't usually use the cruise control because in Toronto, there are too many variations in driving speed and many drivers do not drive on the proper lane.

In ordinary city driving, does it matter what mode the vehicle is in if it's 1) stop and go traffic (likely ECO mode) or 2) if it's free flowing (perhaps regular mode)?

We are not hyper-milers but it makes perfect sense to use the EV mode during the first 0.6 mile if possible because that is going to save us some fuel money in the long run.

If ECO mode is fine for 90% of our use, then I'll gladly leave it in that mode because my wife isn't as cognizant of fuel saving techniques and she will be the main driver. We probably will not require Sports mode unless climbing uphill or driving on zig-zagging highways.

Would appreciate any tips or rough guides as to how to take advantage of the various modes.
 

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Best to just leave it in ECO mode all the time. All the modes are just re-mapping of the throttle response, they all start at 0 throttle and end at 100%. So it only changes how it feels.

ECO mode has added benefits in that it adjusts HVAC output to use less energy. That's most evident in hot weather but also impacts in cold weather too. ECO gives you better throttle control.

EV mode is actually pretty useless, because its locked out completely until the ICE is warm or if the traction battery is low. Its really only useful for parking lots and such, and the system already switches to EV on its own. EV cancels if you push the throttle into the power zone or if speed increases to around 25mph. Also, forcing EV drains the traction battery and ultimately you use gas to re-charge it.
 

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I have had my Rav4 Hybrid for 3 days (far from an expert) and have been using ECO mode. It’s all about how far down you push the gas. If you are on side streets it is very easy to run off the elec motor only in ECO buy only press the gas down a little ways.

"From my understanding, with the EV Mode (not even sure if you can lock into this mode), one just has to gently press against the accelerator pedal from a stand still or during stop and go traffic so that the vehicle can remain in EV mode (gasoline engine shut off) for the first 0.6 mile."

You do not have to lock into EV, in ECO if the gas engine is needed it quickly turns on, once the car is up to speed and you are off the accelerator the gas engine quickly turns off. If you are coasting the display will light up green showing the battery is charging. Even at speeds over 30 mph if I gently press the accelerator I am able to keep the gas engine off and maintain speed for what seems to easily be .6 miles at times if not farther, the display lights up yellow showing you are using only the elec motor. It really depends on the charge of your battery at the current time and how much coasting you’re doing. Unless you have a good amount of speed / momentum the gas engine will come on to help climb the smallest of hills. A month ago I had never heard of hyper-miling but I think to test the car I have kind of been doing that when no one else is around. It is fun and I know with gas under $2 I am not saving much but it’s just fun to see what the Rav4 Hybrid can do. I am shocked how little the gas engine is running during my commute to work, 85% city driving.
 

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Its all about throttle control (keeping it in EV or ECO zones on the indicator)

The system will allow EV up to around 45mph. (this varies a bit with different models) But only when the ICE is at full operating temp. There are 4 stages of operating temps for the system, only the upper stage allows full manual EV mode but the 3rd stage allows some EV. In any case, pushing the throttle into the PWR zone on the gauge will cancel manual EV mode. When not in manual EV, pushing the throttle past the 50% mark cancels EV. It all sounds confusing but once you drive it a while you'll figure it out. If you put it in manual EV it will beep at you if it can't use it or when it gets cancelled.

All detailed pretty well in the manual.
 

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Ev mode should be used where its most efficient, in stop and go conditions, parking lots, or to show off how quite your car is as you pull up to a friends house :p . On the highway it doesn't matter what mode you are in. I drive a prius at work and leave it in normal mode, eco is too non responsive for me. Choose what you like, you will get similar mpg either way.
 

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Yes, it goes automatically goes into electric mode at every reasonable opportunity. Just leave it in ECO mode and the computers will take care of everything. If you want acceleration, just floor it and you get it. Sport mode is for more aggressive drivers and of course there is a fuel consumption penalty for such use.
 

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so what if you leave it in normal mode? or is there even a normal mode?

lets say if none of the modes are selected, does it still go to full electric when it can?
 

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so what if you leave it in normal mode? or is there even a normal mode?

lets say if none of the modes are selected, does it still go to full electric when it can?
Normal mode is when neither sport or ECO are used. They all work exactly the same, the only difference is in the throttle response curve.
 

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I did a short test drive--as others stated, the shift pattern is different. One example: when flooring it for freeway onramp in 'sport' mode you get higher engine RPM slightly longer than ECO mode for more acceleration. And when in EV mode, it quickly disengages even under very light acceleration. EV might be usefull for searching for a parking spot at the mall, lol. I tootled around the dealer lot like that. On the road, a display pops up telling you 'not in EV anymore' or something like that. The transitions from ICE to battery power was really seamless in all modes. Per the salesman, the 'power split device' and 'planetary gear set' is Toyota proprietary, the best there is.

I have to say I was impressed with the CVT. I would have sworn there were regular transmission 'gears!'
 

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^^^
To be precise, there is no "shifting" - there's only one "gear". And its continuously variable. (infinite number of possible "gears")
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yes, it goes automatically goes into electric mode at every reasonable opportunity. Just leave it in ECO mode and the computers will take care of everything. If you want acceleration, just floor it and you get it. Sport mode is for more aggressive drivers and of course there is a fuel consumption penalty for such use.
For simplicity, I will probably just leave my wife's car in ECO mode for maximum fuel savings, especially because she doesn't play around with A/C much while I try to turn the compressor off when the cabin is cool enough.

No clue why I would want to put it in EV mode when it might default back to NORMAL afterwards. :)
 

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^^^
To be precise, there is no "shifting" - there's only one "gear". And its continuously variable. (infinite number of possible "gears")
Yes, quite right. Hard to not think of it as "shifting" as I guess it is very well simulated.
 

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Is this the same as the eCVT (planetary gears) on the Prius?
All Toyota hybrid systems are essentially the same, with the exception of the 4 different generations. The 2016 Prius uses Gen-4 and is the only vehicle currently using it. The Rav4 and all the other hybrid models are currently using Gen-3 systems. Gen-2 and Gen-1 were Prius models of days past.

Gen-3 actually has more then one planetary gear, which was new in Gen-3. The second gear set is used to lower the RPM on the main motor-generator, which gives us electric power at slightly higher speeds.
 

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For simplicity, I will probably just leave my wife's car in ECO mode for maximum fuel savings, especially because she doesn't play around with A/C much while I try to turn the compressor off when the cabin is cool enough.
The A/C compressor is electric, variable speed. Once the cabin is cooled off, it runs only a little bit and uses almost no power. So you can feel comfortable just leaving the system in auto mode - even though the A/C light is on its not doing much. It may stay on even while the system is heating. By shutting it off manually in warm weather you might even force it to use MORE power because it has to re-cool the coils every time.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Good to know about how the a/c works. Hmmm, hopefully the one in our 11 Accord is like that too cause I will be taking over that car. :)
 

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I'm trading in my 5-yr old Lexus CT200h on a new RAV4 Hybrid LTD w/tech pkg. I've had almost 5 years of experience now driving a hybrid and here's what I've discovered:
I hated ECO mode. The gas pedal was SO lethargic. I use NORMAL mode for driving in inclement weather, especially snow. Everywhere else I liked SPORT mode. The steering feel was tighter and the throttle response quicker. I found I didn't use more gas in SPORT. It got me up to cruising speed quicker so I could let off the gas below 70kpm and run along on battery only for a while (pulse & glide I believe they call it).
I did a long drive out to the east coast the first year I got the CT and tested long runs using ECO, NORMAL & SPORT mode. There was NO difference in fuel consumption on a long run. Maybe more of a difference would show up in stop & go driving, but I never noticed. I just couldn't stand the ECO mode.
 
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^^^
Most people will tell you that ECO mode throttle control takes some getting used to. But its also the only way to get adequate throttle control for maximum efficiency. Its also the only way to get the benefits of reduced HVAC demands.
It goes without saying that on road trips it makes no difference which mode you use, but around town it does make a difference. Its certainly the most appropriate mode for slippery roads.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Today was the first fill up for my wife's RAV4 Hybrid and because it's winter and because she almost always has the a/c / heat on (women... they can't be told), she only managed to eke out 28.7 MPG (508 km / 41.5 L). I did not bother with the computer calculations because people suggested it slightly overestimates the fuel efficiency. This was at least 90% highway driving and I expect it to get better when she starts driving to work twice a week (some slowing down and stop and go traffic). Also, the dealership could have short changed us by not filling the fuel tank completely.

At least she switched the display to show the diagram and play among the gasoline engine, hybrid battery and motor and she's figured out that EV mode is sufficient to move the car from the driveway into the garage.

This is already in ECO mode almost entirely. I think I will have her leave it on ECO mode just to get better fuel economy. :)

I've suggested for her to just use the heated steering wheel and seats and make do without a/c but don't think she is going to listen. I did notice that even with the a/c off and recirc off, the windows, including the rear, do clear up at highway speed but I don't want to be perceived as a nagging husband.
 
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