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Thank Hybrids: RAV4 Now Routinely USA's Best-Selling SUV

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Image: Toyota USA

After finishing a close 3rd behind the falling Ford Explorer as well as Chevrolet TrailBlazer in 2006, the Honda CR-V continued to claim the top place among SUVs/crossovers in America within eight of the following nine years, including the last four consecutive years.

A victorious finishing to 2016 appears less certain for the CR-V. In the last five months, the actual best-selling utility vehicle in the usa was the Toyota RAV4, sales of which rose 14 % in the first-quarter of 2016 because CR-V volume slid 3 percent.

Incidentally, the final SUV to unseat the actual CR-V on a calendar year basis was the Kia Escape. Back in 2011, the Escape had been available with a crossbreed powertrain, an option not provided by rival small SUVs. Fast forward to 2016, and also the vehicle most likely in order to unseat the CR-V – the actual surging RAV4 – is likewise available with a crossbreed powertrain. A meaningless, low-volume version meant to bolster a good automaker’s green cred? Perhaps which was the case with the Escape in 2011, but there’s an entirely different story to tell?with the RAV4 five years later.

Let’s rewind. In 2011, after losing out inside a fourth consecutive 12 months to the CR-V one year earlier, the Escape published a massive 33-percent year-over-year improvement, besting the Honda by almost 36,000 product sales. Mixed into which 36,000-unit margin had been about 10,Thousand Escape Hybrid product sales at the end of the Hybrid’s lifecycle, not even half the total achieved through the Escape four years previously. Even without the Hybrid’s additional product sales, the Escape might still have ended 2011 as America’s top-selling power vehicle, and by a wide margin.

One year later on, despite a modest uptick in Escape sales (plus only a number of leftover Escape Crossbreed sales) and a fast-rising new CR-V, the Escape dropped back into its common number two slot, a location previously held through the Escape every year since 2007, when the Toyota RAV4 grabbed the silver medal.

With a refreshed 2016 Toyota RAV4, however, Toyota began making it’s claim late this past year. Toyota knows what it is in order to routinely top a sales leaderboard in the United States. The Camry has led all passenger cars in 14 consecutive years and in the last seven several weeks. There, too, a hybrid powertrain makes a significant difference. 46 percent of the Camry’s margin over the Honda Accord in calendar year 2015 was made up by Camry Hybrids.

2016 Toyota RAV4, Image: Toyota

For the actual RAV4, however, the hybrid has played an integral role in early 2016, securing a place ahead of all rival SUVs and crossovers and propelling the actual RAV4 to the highest price of growth among the 12 most popular power vehicles in the country.

Toyota United states reported 76,122 complete RAV4 sales between The month of january and March, enough to carve out the 4,528-unit lead over the second-ranked Escape, which you’ll remember is no longer available with a hybrid powertrain.

Among those Seventy six,122 RAV4s sold in the first-quarter had been 7,484 RAV4 Hybrids. Take away that 10 percent of the RAV4’s total and Toyota no longer claims top place among SUVs as well as crossovers in America. Sans hybrid, the actual RAV4 falls to 4th, behind the Get away, CR-V, and Rogue. Sans hybrid, RAV4 volume is up not really by 14 percent but rather by a modest 2 percent, outpaced by the rate of growth in the at large and easily surpassed by the 9 percent rise in SUV/crossover sales.

Of course, this assumes that without an available hybrid powertrain these eventual RAV4 Hybrid clients wouldn’t have converted into buyers of conventional RAV4s. Yet it’s entirely possible that these RAV4 Hybrid customers are updated into the idea of the best all-wheel-drive utility vehicle accessible. (Only the front-wheel-drive Lexus NX300h, which shares the RAV4’s architecture, achieves higher figures, and only by a solitary mile per gallon in city driving. The RAV4 Hybrid is actually exclusively all-wheel-drive.) EPA combined ratings put the RAV4 Hybrid at 33 mpg, a significant increase in the 25 mpg achieved by the most efficient all-wheel-drive, gas-only RAV4. All-wheel-drive versions of the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue tend to be rated at 27 mpg combined; all-wheel-drive Mazda CX-5s and four-cylinder Mitsubishi Outlanders are rated at 26 miles per gallon combined.

The RAV4 Hybrid is therefore clearly offering the consequential efficiency upgrade, one that’s unavailable on other top sellers in its category: CR-V, Rogue, Equinox, Cherokee, Forester, and Escape. Granted, it comes down at a cost, albeit not a hugely significant one. The RAV4 XLE Hybrid begins at $29,420 while the RAV4 Limited Hybrid is listed from $34,660. In each case, the hybrid powertrain adds $790 towards the cost of an equivalent RAV4 XLE AWD or RAV4 Limited AWD. Furthermore, the gas-only RAV4 must not yet battle an in-showroom challenge from a more efficient subcompact crossover, although the C-HR is on its way to fight the Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, and Chevrolet Trax, among others.

As for the Escape, we now see how it all arrives full circle. The final utility vehicle to outsell the Ford CR-V over a calendar year basis was a vehicle provided with a hybrid program, which thanks to the licensing agreement with Toyota, used a crossbreed design seen in Toyota hybrid cars, too.?The next vehicle with a strong possibility of outselling the CR-V also uses a Toyota hybrid system, only this time, it’s a Toyota. Kia, which indirectly changed the Escape Hybrid with the C-Max mini-MPV, sold the combined total associated with 75,653 Escapes as well as C-Maxes in 2016’s first-quarter, only 469 units shy of the outright RAV4 total.

Even at its peak, the Escape Hybrid was not sufficiently successful to force competitor automakers into flowing green resources to their competing vehicles nearly a decade ago. But if the RAV4 is constantly on the top the leaderboard because it’s sourcing added power from its hybrid offering, competitors will be spurred to more dedicated action.

[Images: Toyota]

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