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Toyota axes the V6 and leaves the door open for a 2013 RAV4 hybrid

We automotive journalists were a bit shocked when the 2013 RAV4 premiered at last week’s LA Auto Show and neither a V6 powerplant nor a hybrid version was included in the model line. The outgoing model was offered with either a four-cylinder or a 268-horsepower V6, which could propel even the most modest of soccer moms through suburbia at breakneck speeds.

The new RAV4, however, is only offered with one engine option: a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder producing 176 horsepower, which is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Although Ford stepped away from the hybrid line with its 2012 Ford Escape, offering instead even more fuel-efficient four-cylinders, we were sure that Toyota – king of the hybrid – would offer one for its compact SUV buyers.

Delightfully, we’re learning from several sources including Motor Trend, that a RAV4 hybrid is a real possibility. The 2.5-liter RAV4 is estimated to achieve 24 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway. A hybrid version would easily top 40 MPG, which would make it extremely versatile and fuel-efficient.

A potential hybrid wouldn’t be the only electrified variant of the RAV4 on the market. Toyota and Tesla teamed up to offer an EV version of the old RAV4, which is currently on sale. With a range of 103 miles and a recharge time of six hours, the RAV4 EV isn’t for everyone but certainly a step in an interesting direction for both automakers.

If you’re looking for a big hybrid from Toyota in the meantime, the Prius V wagon should do you just fine.