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The Toyota RAV4 is one of the best-selling cars in America right now, and the hybrid version of the RAV4 is even better as it’s a more fuel-efficient option. California is notorious for its high gas prices, so car shoppers in California may assume that buying a RAV4 Hybrid is a good idea. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and here’s a look at why buying a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a bad idea in California right now.

Side view of blue 2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, highlighting why hybrid vehicles get higher fuel economy for city driving
2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid | Toyota

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is fuel efficient and capable

There are a lot of options to get more fuel economy from a car, but the best way is to change the car’s powertrain. Automakers offer a few options here: traditional hybrids, plug-in hybrids, or true EVs. The RAV4 Hybrid is a popular compact SUV likely because it doesn’t change too much under the hood.

As a result, the RAV4 Hybrid is also cheaper overall than the PHEV version of the SUV. The regular RAV4 starts at about $27,000, while the RAV4 Hybrid starts at just over $29,500. That’s a difference of about $2,500.

The RAV4 Hybrid gets 41 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on highways, for 40 mpg combined. That’s much better than the 31 mpg combined that the regular RAV4 gets. 

Why it’s not a good idea to buy a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid in California right now

Not every car shopper can afford a new car though, so many may turn to the used car market. Unfortunately, car shoppers looking for a used car in California should not consider the RAV4 Hybrid, according to iSeeCars.

While the hybrid Toyota can be a fuel-efficient option for folks who can afford it, the problem is that, due to a variety of reasons, a used RAV4 Hybrid is much more expensive now than before.

In fact, the RAV4 Hybrid is the used car model in California that has the highest price difference compared to iSeeCars’ Car Affordability Index.

An affordable car is defined as a car that has car payments that are less than 10% of the median household’s annual income. The Car Affordability Index is calculated using a state’s median household income, so it takes into account the fact that California households tend to have a higher income than the average American. 

Despite accounting for that, a used RAV4 Hybrid is still going to cost 27.6% more than what the median Californian household could affordably pay. That’s because the average three-year-old used RAV4 Hybrid will cost just under $40,000, and that’s $15,000 more expensive than what it used to cost in 2019.

As such, California shoppers who are interested in this Toyota hybrid may be better off buying a brand-new one.

A lot of cars have seen a spike in prices lately

While that’s a massive price increase for California shoppers looking for a RAV4 Hybrid, this is not a unique issue to the RAV4 Hybrid or to California car buyers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related supply chain crisis, car prices in general have spiraled out of control.

Across the nation, used car prices have become far more expensive than what the average American can afford, and California is actually fairly average in terms of how bad things got.

A lot of states, such as Illinois, Texas, and Virginia, saw popular used car models drop in affordability by around 30%. A couple of states hit 40%, and one state even hit 50%. That 50% jump came from Florida, and it affected the Nissan Leaf, which is now over $23,000 more expensive than before. 

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