The 2023 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Makes High-Altitude Driving Easy and Uneasy
The 2023 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition strikes a delicate balance between being an off-road-ready SUV and a fuel-conscious commuter. Don’t get too excited; the RAV4 Woodland Edition isn’t ready to tackle Moab. Instead, it’s better suited for mild dirt terrain and normal paved roads.
I found this out on a recent short trip to Vail, Colo. My RAV4 Hybrid tester made it up and down the mountainous roads just fine. It even traversed a dirt road with ease. However, there were some parts of the trip where the hybrid system made it easy, but there were other parts when it didn’t.
The 2023 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has enough power for high-elevation driving, sometimes
I have driven the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid up to Vail in the past and was impressed with its fuel economy and electric assistance. The electric motor takes care of the midrange power, which gives the car a much-needed boost on steep inclines. However, that’s only when the battery is adequately charged. When the battery needs more juice, the gas engine kicks on to recharge it and provide power to the wheels like a regular car.
This time, the RAV4 Hybrid’s powertrain did well on my way up the mountain, but at one point, I noticed it started chugging along like it was running out of breath. The high elevation may have had something to do with it.
But when I looked at the power delivery meter on the instrument panel, I noticed the hybrid battery was a little low, and the gas engine was doing all of the work. At this time, it felt like the car only had 100 hp as it limped its way down the road.
I got a little uneasy because a semi-truck I had passed was slowly catching up behind me. Pressing the gas pedal more didn’t help.
Fortunately, when the car got over the mountain and started on the descent, it regenerated the battery, and the electric motor started to assist again. From that point on, going up and down the mountain was much easier.
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has a combined system output of 219 hp, but separately, the gas engine puts out 176 hp. Factoring in the elevation, I wouldn’t be surprised if that power was decreased, which made the car feel sluggish.
What’s so special about the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition?
Hybrid powertrain aside, the 2023 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition is the semi-outdoorsy version of the existing XLE trim. I say “semi” because this special trim level differentiates itself from the rest with TRD-tuned springs and dampers, bronze 18-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires, and a few aesthetic tweaks.
The exterior upgrades include roof rails and mud flaps. On the inside, a 120-volt outlet provides extra power in the cargo area, and a set of rubbed “Woodland Edition” floor mats provides some protection.
Otherwise, this is your standard RAV4 Hybrid XLE with a dash of ruggedness.
The RAV4 Hybrid returned on-par fuel-efficiency numbers
It’s worth noting that compared to the other 2023 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid trim levels, the Woodland Edition takes a little hit in fuel economy. According to the EPA, the standard RAV4 Hybrid XLE can reach 41 mpg in the city and 40 mpg in combined driving situations.
However, the Woodland Edition decreases those numbers to 38 and 37, respectively. It’s not a huge surprise, then, that I averaged 36 mpg during my trip to Vail. That’s not bad, considering the system was only half working at certain times.