February 12, 2014
We were replacing the Nissan Leaf as the 36 month lease is up. I needed a car to replace this vehicle. What was important was the ability to transport our large dog Frankie a Great Pyrenees. He weighs in at 125 lbs. I did not want him on the seats. I did not want him standing on top of the folded down seats as there was no protection if we had to stop quickly. The ideal situation was a rear area that was large enough to accommodate him. I limited the search to Hybrids, Hydrogen fuel, Plug-ins, and All Electrics. The vast majority of all Electric vehicles have battery sizes under 24kwh. The only exceptions are the Tesla S, and the Toyota Rav4EV. I initially looked at the Rav4EV and because the car lacked a fast charge capability decided against it. However, it had the right size and capacity. I then began to consider all the others. The plain hybrid was dropped because it did not qualify for the Diamond Lane Sticker, though I liked the Toyota Prius V. The problem there is I am already driving the equivalent and really wanted something different. I have and have had Prius hybrids now for over 9 years. So I have experience with them. The next group to drop out was the hydrogen fuel vehicles. While on average they can drive 300 miles you are pretty much corralled into a specific geography. There just is not the infrastructure required. Also very slow from zero to 60 miles per hour. I did like the new Hyundai Tucson Hydrogen Fuel vehicle. However upon review found the back of the vehicle not large enough for Frankie. I then looked at Plug-ins. Kind of the best of both all Electric and Hybrid vehicles. The problem here is no one makes a SUV type of Plug-in except Mitsubishi (Outlander PHEV). However it is not available in this Country probably for another 1 1/2 years. So that left me again looking at Electrics. I again reviewed the Rav4EV. I did some searching and found that with reasonable driving speeds, you could drive from Orange County to Santa Barbara (120 miles) That sounded really good. The size was perfect. The performance was there. The nice thing is you are getting the Tesla drive train at a Toyota price. So after careful consideration I took the leap. Thus far I am delighted. Someone is already working on a fast charger hookup for the car. That is what is so exciting about this industry. The people buying these cars are innovative and experimental. I expect that in the near future you will be able to purchase the kit necessary to allow the Rav4EV to charge with a fast charger. Then distance is less of an issue. The car could benefit from Leather interior. Thought a lot of the people buying the vehicle don't like the idea. Great visibility, utilitarian, and a pleasure to drive. I would probably have a bit of a better sound system, though this one is ok. The car is very quiet as you would expect with an all Electric. I would have added all windows up and down express instead of just the driver window. The rear view camera is not as good as the Nissan Leaf. The Nissan Leaf has pretty good electronics. But also remember it was designed from the get go as an all Electric. The leaf was a joy to drive. Just too short of a driving range. The Rav4EV has front window shades that have pull out visors to use when you fold it against the side windows. This is a favorite of my wife. The mirrors fold and have turn signals built in. I added a module that auto folds the mirrors when you lock the car and unfolds when you start the electric motor. Otherwise it was a push button. The verbal navigation system seems to work. That has been an area that really needs help for many years. I am using a 40 amp charger that is portable. The car will charge completely in ~6 hours from completely dead. It is a Toyota after all so that has its own benefits. Keep in mind I also have an 2001 Acura NSX-T that I supercharged and put on coil overs, headers, exhaust, and big brakes. I have tracked my car as well. So I do appreciate driving and driving fast.