Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs MG HS PHEV 2021 Comparison Test

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Two very different hybrids, two very different midsize SUVs all-’round!
With one being arguably THE most popular in its segment whilst the other having a smarter build, or at leat it seems so… will the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid or the MG HS PHEV be the more viable option for Aussie urban dwellers in the increasingly popular eco-friendly car market?
Check out this in-depth review from Car Sales:


If your first foray into eco-friendly transport is more of a step, then a leap, one of these two mid-size SUVs might be what you’re after. The MG HS plug in hybrid and the Toyota RAV4 cruiser hybrid. Similar goals, different tactics. Keep watching to see which one of these two petrol electric models, will not only deliver on their environmental promise, but also deliver the best value for money.

The new MG HS plug-in hybrid is the most expensive of eight HS variants on sale down under and comes in a single, front wheel drive version priced at $46,990 drive-away. The recently updated Toyota RAV4 cruiser hybrid is available in both front and all wheel drive form as tested here for about $500 less than the MG. But this time, excluding on road costs. So, both of these mid-size hybrid SUVs are very similar in price. But the big difference is the RAV4, which is Australia’s top selling SUV and the nation’s most popular hybrid, lacks the ability to be recharged from the grid, like the MG, which is the cheapest plug in hybrid SUV available.

The MG has LED lights, front and rear, LED daytime running lights, a unique grill and fog lights with chrome details. A shark fin antenna, roof-rails, rear spoiler, body colour mirrors and door handles and 18-inch diamond cut alloys complete the MG’s exterior details on a fairly generic looking mid-size SUV. The similarly sized RAV4 also has LEDs, front and rear, LED daytime running lights, fog lights and it’s finished off with black and chrome exterior accents. You will also find a shark fin antenna, rear spoiler, roof rails and 18-inch alloys. The RAV4 however, strikes a more angular and aggressive stance than the more playful looking MG HS. So, while both of these SUVs are hybrids that combine petrol and electric drive, they do so quite differently. The MG plug-in hybrid has a bigger battery that can be recharged via mains power and driven entirely on electric power. The Toyota charges its battery via the engine and regenerate breaking system alone, so there’s no power cord involved and it charges while you drive as Toyota Australia says.

The downside is, there’s no option for pure EV operation with the RAV4, save for some low speed work. The MG’s engine is a 1.5 litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine paired to a ten-speed automatic transmission, an electric motor and a 16.6 kilowatt-hour battery. MG says, the combination delivers up to 52 kilometres in pure electric mode and takes about five hours to charge from a normal household power outlet to make full use of its notable eco-friendly credentials. The RAV4 cruiser hybrid on the other hand, runs a 2.5 litre naturally aspirated petrol engine and its matched to a CVT Auto. And in the case of the all wheel drive, it has a total of three electric motors, including two upfront. Both cars come with an 8 year, 160,000 kilometre warranty for their hybrid batteries, but the MG’s 7 year unlimited kilometre warranty is two years longer than the Toyota’s.

The inside of the MG is really fresh and modern, it’s got this clean minimalist vibe, which I am really liking. Keyless entry and push button start, six-way electric adjust, heated leather seats, dual zone climate control and a perforated leather steering, are much welcomed inclusions, that set a nice tone for the MG. The MG’s tech and infotainment is really cool, this big 10.1 inch screen is easy to navigate and it’s got most of the things you would expect. And this large virtual cockpit is the kind of thing that we see in much more expensive euro cars. A six speaker sound system, Apple Car Play and Android Auto and satellite navigation are standard.

The MG’s downfall is how slow its screen is to react with pretty much every command. The MG’s cabin does feel quite compact, but it still has good storage solutions. A lidded armrest, two cup holders and a bit of oddment storage here and some more here. But what I really like is, that you can close them off and cover them up, to hide stuff. Jumping in the RAV4, it feels like they have managed to carve out a larger and more spacious interior. They’ve definitely taken a really different approach to design and you’ll find buttons and dials everywhere, it’s quite busy.

It too, features, keyless entry and push button start, dual zone climate control and multiple USB charge points. A ten way, electric adjust, heated leather seat with two position memory is a step up on the MG’s. The RAV4 has a smaller eight inch screen for the anchor, for its tech and infotainment and its execution and design is a little more old school, but that can be a really good thing for some people. It means that you’ve got really clearly labelled buttons and it makes it very easy to master. You’ll also find Apple Car Play and Android Auto, satellite navigation, Bluetooth, as in the MG, but a nine speaker sound system, digital radio and wireless phone charging are again a step up for the RAV4’s standard equipment.

Storage in the RAV4 is really good, you’ve also got two cup holders, a lidded armrest, some extra storage here, but then you have these two nooks, that we didn’t find in the MG, it’s probably got a little additional storage to the MG, but maybe not quite the same design flare. The MG’s safety suite includes all of the driver assist functions expected in any family car these days, including auto braking, steering and acceleration. The RAV4 matches, all of that, but its AAB, has pedestrian and cyclist detection and it also adds front parking sensors. The second row of the MG is not only really spacious, bright and airy, it’s really comfy too. These seats are so soft, but also supportive. And I’ve gotta say, I’m a really big fan of the hard back seats, they are much more robust when you’re lugging kids, in and out of the second row. Two directional air vents and an arm rest with two cup holders, see the basic second row needs, covered in the MG. There are also two ISO-fix positions and three top tether anchors for the fitment of child seats. The second row of the RAV4, is probably just as spacious as the MG, but it does feel a little bit more enclosed and the fit and finish is just not quite up to the standard of MG, to be honest. Two directional air vents, a centre armrest with cup holders and two USB charge points are standard. Two ISO-fix positions and three tether anchors can also be found in the RAV4. Both vehicles have electric tail gates, but the RAV4 will store more than the MG because it’s smaller hybrid battery pack, stores neatly under the rear seats. Both vehicles feature 60-40 split fold seats.

The MG has a tyre repair kit and the RAV4, a space saver. A 1,500 kilogram break towing capacity is common to both. Now it’s time to see how they differ, behind the wheel. Jumping in the MG, the startup sequence is absolutely silent because at that stage it’s relying on battery power only. But even when you do kick into that petrol engine, it’s still a pretty quiet drive.

The MG will employ its pure EV mode at the press of a button or when it deems fit. However, the MG’s hybrid engine reverts to the petrol engine at the hint of heavy pedal work, even at freeway speeds. It’s not as effective or as keen to employ its hybrid system as we expected. Overall comfort in the MG is really good. It does have a little bit of a firm ride, but it’s not harsh and particularly around city streets with speed humps and the like, it’s actually really comfortable, and that sort of combined with really, really soft and supportive seats, it’s a great combination. The steering has quite a bit of weight to it, but I actually really like it. It gives you a good sense of feedback.

It’s the MG’s power delivery that could probably do with a little bit of refinement. But having said that, the transition between the petrol power and EV mode is actually quite seamless, as it should be in a hybrid like this where you really are leaving it to the car to make most of the decisions for you. Outward vision is good in all directions.

So again, in the RAV4, when you jump in, it has that same eerily quiet startup, it’s relying on its battery power as well. But once this engine kicks in, it is a little bit noisier than we find in the MG. The Toyota takes any decision work away from the driver employing its hybrid system as and when it deems fit. The RAV4 does feel like a much larger car when, dimensionally, there’s actually not that much in it. And it also gives you a more commanding view of the road, so it has got a very different feel behind the wheel, and that’s before we even get into any kind of ride and handling dynamics.

It’s a close call, but the RAV4 feels like the more versatile vehicle where ride and comfort is concerned. The suspension feels better suited to the duties these mid-sized SUVs are going to endure. The RAV4’s CVT is smooth and it’s also pretty quiet. What I do find in here though, is there’s a little more noise when you transition from one power source to the other. It’s more noticeable than we saw in the MG. And while there may be a little more noise to the RAV4, it certainly still does things pretty seamlessly, switching through power modes as it deems fit. Much like the MG, the RAV4 has very good outward visibility.

The MG has a 37-litre fuel tank and uses 95 RON fuel and, theoretically, is capable of an average combined consumption of 1.7 litres per 100 kilometres. The RAV4 has a 55-litre tank and that will settle for 91 RON, and its claimed fuel economy is 4.8 litres per 100 kilometres. An identical test recorded a 5.6-litre average for the RAV4 against 3.9 for the MG. Parking the MG is a breeze thanks to rear sensors and a 360-degree camera. Dynamic guides and rear sensors help your parking efforts, but again, the screen itself is frustratingly slow to respond. The RAV4 also features a 360-degree camera, but adds front sensors to its credentials. The screen is of good clarity and quick to switch view modes when you need it. Our test vehicles’ hybrid systems both deliver more economical motoring than their petrol-only counterparts, but the RAV4’s hassle-free hybrid system trumps the MG’s plug-in variety that requires more effort for little real-world reward.

The MG definitely wins the design and style stakes, however, but all-around competence, versatility and everyday liveability favours the Toyota RAV4 making it our winner.


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