2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SE Review: Hooked on a Feeling

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick


Engine: 2.5L I4 w/ hybrid system
Output: 219 hp, 176 lb-ft
Transmission: CVT, AWD
US fuel economy (MPG): 41/38/40
CAN fuel economy (L/100KM): 5.8/6.3/6.0
Starting Price (USD): $30,790 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (USD): $35,525 (inc. dest.)
Starting Price (CAD): $35,240 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (CAD): $39,880 (inc. dest.)

If you had one of the most successful products out there, would you really mess with success?

In 2021, Toyota sold a RAV4, on average, every 77 seconds. Roughly 3 out of 10 were hybrids—almost 4 out of 10, including the plug-in RAV4 Prime. Put another way, Toyota sold more electrified RAV4s last year than Ford sold all types of Escapes.

Needless to say, this year’s mid-cycle refresh for the RAV4 was light. Not much has changed on Toyota’s best-seller, because not much needs to. This new-for-2022 SE grade promises to bring more style to the affordable end of the hybrid lineup, and it does so, even if aspects of the experience are starting to age Toyota’s all-star.

Get a Quote on a New 2022 Toyota RAV4

What’s new?

In the grand Toyota hierarchy, SE and XSE are the sportier-looking trims, with the former carrying a shorter feature list and smaller price tag. Like the XSE, the SE is available only on the electrified RAV4, with Toyota reinforcing the hybrid’s position as the performer of the lineup.

From the outside, the SE is virtually identical to the XSE. It features the same gloss black body trim and 18-inch wheels, as well as the updated LED headlights that grace every trim above base LE. It loses out on the contrasting roof of the XSE, but in the case of this tester, that just means more of the excellent Cavalry Blue. The hue is new to RAV4 this year, borrowed from elsewhere in Toyota’s SUV lineup.

As before, all RAV4 hybrids run a 2.5-liter inline-four with an assist from two electric motors, one at each axle. The combined total is 219 horsepower. Unlike the Sienna and Highlander hybrids, both of which offer the choice of either front- or all-wheel drive, RAV4 hybrids are exclusively AWD.

Familiar space

Beyond a few tiny detail changes—locking glove box, LED lighting, illuminated switches—the RAV4’s interior is the same as it’s been since 2019. The SE has cloth-trimmed seats, with power adjustability on the driver side. Passengers get fore/aft and recline adjustments, but nothing for height—a concession to hit that lower price point. With the standard sunroof, that can put taller folks in a pinch, but it wasn’t a problem for this 5’10” writer.

The RAV4’s interior design isn’t as swanky as some of the newer competition—looking at you, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage. It pulls from the Toyota SUV family, with a chunky, easy-to-use center stack that’s easy to appreciate. The climate controls are simple to operate even with gloves, and it’s refreshing not having to hunt for the standard seat heating controls. The cabin plastics are starting to date the RAV4, however, with a low-rent center console and rear door panels the worst offenders. We’re still fans of the chunky metallic door handles, though.

The second row is almost the better space to spend time in the RAV4. Headroom is up almost two inches over the front, at 39.5 inches (1,003 millimeters). Legroom is a generous 37.8 inches (960 mm). The seats themselves are comfortable, more so than their flat appearance would suggest. The RAV4’s boxy, SUV-like shape makes for more glass area, letting much-needed light into the cabin—with the all-black interior, it’s pretty dark back there.

Cargo space is usefully wide and flat, with a quoted 37.5 cubic feet (1,062 liters) with the seats up. Seat-down space is 69.8 cubes (1,977 L); which is about 12-percent smaller than the Hyundai Tucson. Towing is capped at 1750 lb (794 kg) for all RAV4 Hybrids.

Outdated technology

As part of its cost-conscious approach, the RAV4 Hybrid SE sticks to a 7.0-inch touchscreen. The size isn’t a big deal—most models in the class are 8.0, so what’s an inch between friends—but the contrast surround serves as a constant reminder that there’s a larger screen elsewhere in the RAV4 family.

Entune is a slow and inelegant user interface. There’s some useful hybrid drivetrain info if you want to check that out. For everything else, we’d recommend sticking to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which thankfully take up the whole screen. On the bright side, Toyota has already confirmed all 2023 RAV4s will use the excellent Toyota Multimedia system moving forward. So long Entune.

The SE sticks to traditional analog gauges, with a small but useful 4.2-inch MFD between the dials. There’s no head-up display nor a wireless charger, but that’s par for the course at this price point. There is a height-adjustable power-operated tailgate however, and that is a good catch.

Toyota’s suite of standard safety assists includes automated emergency braking (with pedestrian and bicyclist detection), lane keep assist, lane departure alert, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, auto high beams, and adaptive cruise control.

An all-season all-rounder

The RAV4 is a wholly competent mid-packer in this crowded segment. The TNG-A platform that underpins it and darned near every front-drive-based Toyota is a stout base, ensuring the RAV4 feels good and planted on the road. There’s not much in the way of steering feel here, but save the Mazda CX-5, that’s the case for anything in this class. Importantly, the RAV4 goes, steers, and stops as it’s instructed.

Hybrids are kind of Toyota’s thing, and this tried-and-true 2.5-liter setup is still hard to beat. It can get noisy on heavy throttle, when the CVT wakes the engine up with a blare, but the setup is responsive and never feels lacking on the highway. 219 horsepower puts it near the pointy end of the class, while a combined 40 mpg (6.0 L/100 km) ties with the Ford Escape Hybrid AWD for top honors. It’s important to note that the Escape and Kia Sportage are the only two to offer the combo of hybrid drivetrain and front-wheel drive.

Dollars and sense

The RAV4 Hybrid SE sits in the middle of a six-wide hybrid lineup. It includes useful improvements over the base $30,790 ($35,240 CAD) Hybrid LE, such as the improved LED headlights, 18-inch alloys, power-adjustable driver’s seat, and blind-spot monitoring. This Canadian-spec tester comes in just one flavor, which is the equivalent of adding the $2,080 Convenience and Weather package in the US. Final tally: $35,525 ($39,880 CAD), including destination.

For comparison, a mid-level CR-V Hybrid EX-L is slightly more expensive ($35,845), but is larger inside and includes leather. The Ford Escape SEL Hybrid ($35,550 / $42,294 CAD) is slightly more efficient, but cheaper inside. Both the Kia Sportage Hybrid EX ($33,785 / $37,895 CAD) and Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SEL Convenience ($33,645) sacrifice a bit of economy for even more interior space and more modern technology inside.

Verdict: 2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SE Review

The 2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SE adds a bit of heart to an eminently sensible package. Netting the XSE look at a discount price is an appealing offer, and in the now-crowded hybrid crossover segment, the originator still has one of the best all-rounder drivetrains.

While other, newer competitors have it beat on modern interior design and infotainment, the RAV4 offers a rather unique blend of car-like dynamics with a bit more SUV flavor inside. Judging by its sales figures, the RAV4 has what people want, and the SE continues that trend, with a dash of style that won’t break the bank.


How much does the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid cost?

The RAV4 Hybrid starts from $30,790 ($35,240 CAD), including destination. Opting for the new SE grade costs $33,445 ($39,880 CAD).

Does the RAV4 Hybrid come with AWD?

Yes, AWD is standard on all RAV4 hybrids, unlike the Highlander or Sienna hybrids.

How long is the wait time for a RAV4 Hybrid?

That depends on the market. Some US customers report weeks; some Canadians, months.

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  • Hybrid powertrain still excellent
  • Good value play
  • Smooth ride


  • Ancient, tiny infotainment
  • CVT can get noisy
  • Cabin materials starting to feel old
Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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2 of 7 comments
  • Richtrek Richtrek on Sep 24, 2022

    Dont feel bad by the time, after waiting a month. The dealership here where Im took me for a $7000 extra ride to get my Rav 4. Reading articles sense then, I realize how much they took me for. I love my car, but they really took me. Warning! Watch who you are dealing with! Make sure you get the price you want and if not leave. You can honest get a better deal! Buyer beware means ? something to me now!

  • Hate rav4 Hate rav4 on Mar 01, 2023

    I bought a 22 SE. It is so boring to drive and doesn't get near the advertised mileage on the freeway. You can't drive it like a normal car and get Iverson 30MPG. 1600 miles in and it already has 2 warranty repairs. Poor design and it is a fake Toyota built in Kentucky which is why it is always in the shop. Insist on a real Toyota. You will know it is if the VIN starts with a 'j' that goes for ALL foreign cars. Never buy one that is not built in its home country.