Hybrids a win-win

Being plugged into EA Networks EV fast-charger in West St, or waiting to do so can be an interesting experience.

Best of course when you can drive up and don’t have to wait for someone else to complete their (free) re-charge of up to 80 per cent of battery capacity.

At times, when there’s others already waiting, I’ve returned later.

Talking to those waiting, I found they carefully plot their recharge stops and mostly don’t mind the down-time for doing this when travelling out of town.

I observed the fast food outlet, service station etc across the street don’t mind them having to do that either!

But for others keen on reducing C02 emissions, but who find the necessity of having to recharge en-route somewhat frustrating, (especially so at this time of the year when a queue is likely) will very likely appreciate the benefits of driving one of Toyota’s self-charging, petrol-electric hybrids.

Roger Hart

These include the smaller Yaris-based Prius C (from $27,990), the new Corolla Hybrids ($32,990 and $38,490) either of the three Camrys (from $41,490), and the still radical looking Prius range from $39,990 up to 48,490 for the Prime plug-in model.

But what about a hybrid SUV?

Well never fear, in keeping with Toyota’s commitment to lower their overall CO2 emissions, there’s a self charging hybrid amongst the new RAV range.

Toyota say it will be “a win-win for drivers as they experience the benefit of a lifestyle SUV with great visibility, spacious cabin room and off-road ability while having exceptional energy efficiency.“

Most of the RAV’s, including the Hybrids have a new more fuel efficient, 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine.

Like the latest Camry Hybrid, the RAV uses a special CVT working in concert with its hybrid power-train.

But for the RAV, this system will tow exactly the same loads as the petrol models.

No pricing has yet been announced, but there will be an entry level model with a 2.0-litre petrol engine and CVT.

A special-edition, all-wheel-drive Adventure grade, complete with a more rugged exterior appearance headlines the range, with various models in between.

The 2.5-litre petrol models get new 8-speed autos.

Toyota say all have a bolder, tougher look about them.

Matching this, the new AWD system sends up to 50 per cent of the torque to the rear axle, and varying amounts to the individual wheels.

They also say the interior is more sophisticated with more back seat space, thanks to the longer wheelbase of the new TNGA platform with its multi-link rear suspension, lower centre of gravity, and wider front and rear tracks.

All of which is said to provide improved handling, road holding, ride comfort and reduced cabin noise.

All get Toyota’s comprehensive Safety Sense package, including a pre-crash system with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection, all speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist and automatic high beam.

I look forward to experiencing this new RAV but meantime a few words about driving the new, ZR Corolla Hybrid.

It now shares the latest hybrid powertrain with the non plug-in Prius SX and ZR, so has a smaller, lighter 1.8-litre Atkinson cycle petrol/hybrid system and a nickel metal hydride battery (battery warranty is 8 years or 160,000km).

The result is a combined output of 90 kW, a stated combined fuel consumption of 4.2L/100kms and CO2 emissions of 97g/km.

It now uses 91, rather than the 95 octane petrol.

There’s selectable driving modes, but except for driving in city rush hour traffic when Eco mode selection achieves its frugal best the hybrid system left to itself, does an excellent job.

That’s on minor hill work as well, but there is the Power button to further hasten progress.

Using this is likely increases consumption to the mid fives as you appreciate the shapely front seats together with the ride and road holding provided by the new platform and suspension.

It’s a smart looker and nicely plush inside, with an impressive line-up of standard equipment.

This includes dual-zone climate air, key-less smart entry/ push button start, wireless phone charging, colour head-up display, heated leather/suede sports front seats, a premium audio system, bi-LED headlights, 18-inch alloys and more.

And not forgetting the impressive array of active driver assistance and passive protection features of the Safety Sense package.

 

Finale:

Electrification is a buzzword both politically and within the motor industry. However for rural folk, and those wanting to do long trips without either range anxiety or the necessity of frequent stops for battery recharging, one of these reasonably priced, self-charging Hybrids with their balance between fuel economy, low emissions and performance makes a lot of sense!

 

– By Roger Hart

 

 

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