While a number of details regarding the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV remain undisclosed, the automaker has just taken the wraps off of the final production version that will go on sale here this summer. Looking much like the RAV4 EV prototype we drove early last spring but reportedly offering even better performance, this volume-build variant will be available in one fully-equipped model priced at $50,610.

As previously announced, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is a collaborative effort between Toyota Motor Corporation and Tesla Motors. Well-known purveyor of its own line of electric cars, Tesla is supplying the lithium-ion battery pack, motor, gearbox and power electronics for the RAV4 EV from its facility in Palo Alto, California. The complete drivetrain assembly gets shipped to Toyota's manufacturing plant in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, where the RAV4 EV will roll off down the same production line as its conventional RAV4 kin.

All 2012 Toyota RAV4 EVs will be front-wheel drive and have a nominal per-charge range of 100 miles. Maximum output of the RAV4 EV's electric motor is 154 horsepower, and drivers will be able to select from two distinct operating modes: Normal and Sport. The former allows the RAV4 EV to run from 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds and hit 85 mph while the latter trims that sprint interval to just 7.0 ticks and raises the top speed to 100 mph. When it comes time to replenish the 41.8 kWh battery pack, the recommended 240V/9.6kW Level 2 home charger unit from Toyota's partner Leviton can get the job done in approximately six hours, although the vehicle will come with a standard 120V charging cable that can be plugged into any standard wall outlet for a more leisurely 46-hour e-refill.

Subtle exterior changes to the new RAV4 EV add visual distinction to this ultra-green Toyota as well as help lower its coefficient of drag to a stellar 0.30 -- lowest of any SUV on the market today. The principal variations are found up front where a more aero-friendly fascia and grille are complemented by unique headlights with LED low-beams and five-element LED vertical daytime running lights. Sleeker side mirrors, a modest rear spoiler and extensive underbody fairings further help optimize airflow around the vehicle, which will be available in Blizzard White Pearl, Shoreline Blue Pearl and Classic Silver Metallic. Other cosmetic touches include lightly smoked taillamp lenses and EV badging on its nose, tail and front doors done in Toyota "Environmental Blue."

Inside, the RAV4 EV sets itself apart from the basic model line in equally understated but functional ways, starting with upholstery cloth that features a special blue-accented "Neutron" fabric on the seat inserts and door trim. The other obvious differentiator is an 8.0-inch capacitive touch screen with a sophisticated graphic display that controls the standard navigation, telematics, and comprehensive multi-mode EV drive information readouts. Other premium standard features on the RAV4 EV include a six-way adjustable driver's seat, variable front-seat heaters, a split/folding rear seat, Toyota's Entune infotainment system with a three-year complementary subscription to its various services as well SiriusXM Satellite Radio (with 3-month trial subscription to the XM Select package), Bluetooth streaming audio, and a USB port with iPod connectivity.

No test drives were permitted at the RAV4 EV's reveal, but Toyota says that positioning its battery pack under the floor and along the vehicle's centerline significantly lowers the center of gravity to provide even better handling and responsiveness than a conventional RAV4. That prudent packaging choice also allows the EV version to retain the same 73 cu ft of maximum cargo space with its rear seat folded.

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV will be launched in four prime California metropolitan markets, Los Angeles/Orange County, Sacramento, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area, with other yet-unstipulated locales to follow. Totyota says it plans to sell about 2,600 RAV4 EV's over the next three years. Like the Prius Plug-in, the battery in the RAV4 EV will carry an 8-year/100,000 mile warranty.

"We believe that the RAV4 EV will attract sophisticated early technology adopters, much like the first-generation Prius," said Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota division. "It's designed for consumers who prioritize the environment and appreciate performance. We look forward to seeing how the market responds."


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