2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Review: Is It Better Than the Regular Hybrid?
Toyota’s greatest strength is its hybrid technology, and in our SUV-obsessed market, the RAV4 Hybrid has overtaken the Prius as the best-selling hybrid in the brand’s line-up. The RAV4 Hybrid has several advantages over the standard RAV4, including a smoother powertrain and better fuel economy. Now, Toyota presents a plug-in version of the RAV4, a more powerful version, more fuel efficient and offering impressive electric range. This makes the Toyota RAV4 Prime 2021 the jewel in the brand’s SUV lineup.
2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Range, fuel economy and load
A key differentiator between the RAV4 Prime and its siblings is its ability to cover distances only on EV power. Some customers will be able to get to work every day without using a drop of gas. The RAV4 Prime is expected to travel 42 miles on a single charge, giving it the highest EV range of any plug-in hybrid SUV on the market. Ford’s Escape plug-in hybrid is not far behind with 37 miles of electric range, except that the RAV4 Prime has all-wheel drive, while the Escape plug-in hybrid is only available with front-wheel drive.
Charging times vary considerably depending on the method. The RAV4 Prime includes a 3.3 kW, 120 V level 1 charging cable, allowing customers to recharge the battery in approximately 12 hours from home. With a 240 kW 3.3 kW charger, time goes up to 4.5 hours. The XSE models with the Premium pack offer an improved charging capacity of 6.6 kW to recharge the battery in 2.5 hours on a faster level 2 charger. With the gas and electric bits combined, the total range should be 600 miles.
After initially estimating a fuel economy of 90 mpg-e, Toyota now plans greater efficiency. The SUV is expected to deliver 94 mpg-e, an impressive number, but less than the 100 mpg-e rating of the PHEV Escape.
2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Performance
It is counter-intuitive to think of a RAV4 as sporty, but Toyota wanted this variant to focus heavily on performance. The automaker says the RAV4 Prime is its second fastest vehicle, just behind the Supra.
Under the sheet, the RAV4 Prime has a lot in common with the RAV4 hybrid. It uses the Hybrid’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder petrol engine, set to slightly higher horsepower. A new lithium-ion battery, a booster / converter and more powerful motor-generators give the Prime 83 more overall power compared to the ordinary hybrid RAV4. The total power of the system is 302 hp, much more juice than you would think for a small consumer crossover. The Prime is also much heavier, however, weighing around 4,300 pounds in the higher version of the XSE.
So how does it work? There are three different electrical modes. In auto / HV mode, the engine starts to provide additional power when needed, such as when you press the accelerator pedal. You can select an EV priority mode to run on electric power only, even when using the throttle aggressively. A battery charging mode uses the power of the engine to recharge the battery, adding an EV range while driving.
If you only use electric power, the acceleration is slower. Toyota estimates a 0 to 60 mph time of 9.2 seconds in pure EV mode. It’s far from hybrid mode, when Toyota claims that it can reach 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, regardless of the state of charge.
Like the RAV4 hybrid, the acceleration of the RAV4 Prime is smooth and linear from a stop. Despite the extra horses, he doesn’t feel radically more powerful from a stop than his brother. The gasoline engine is quick to jump with an extra kick when you change lanes on the highway in hybrid mode. However, when the engine starts, you hear a loud moan.
Toyota says it has modified the RAV4 Prime’s suspension for a smoother ride, but we haven’t noticed any significant improvement over the RAV4 hybrid. It massages small bumps enough but acts nervously on hard roads. Toyota has also recalibrated the steering system, but it feels pretty much the same too. It is just as dull as in the RAV4 hybrid.
Many hybrids suffer from a pasty brake feel compared to traditional motor vehicles. On the RAV4 Prime, the brakes take a little longer to bite completely, but we think we could get used to it over time.
Interior of the Toyota RAV4 Prime 2021
The interior should look familiar if you are driving a RAV4 hybrid. The buttons are cleverly arranged on the dashboard, giving the cabin a sleek feel. The large adhesive buttons allow you to adjust the climate without taking your eyes off the road. On the lower center console, the shifter and cup holders are placed for easy access. As with the RAV4 hybrid, the soft-touch materials everywhere make the cabin more comfortable. The RAV4 has excellent visibility. The vehicle is easy to see thanks to the low windows and the discreet pillars.
Our XSE tester comes with a long list of standard features, including plush faux leather seats and ambient lighting. On the technology side, there are five USB ports and a wireless phone recharge. This top trim also includes a 9-inch touch screen. On the list of options, a premium package provides a 10-inch head-up display, exclusive to Prime. It also includes a foot-operated tailgate, a panoramic sunroof, adaptive headlights, perforated and ventilated front seats and a bird’s-eye view camera.
With the battery mounted under the floor, the RAV4 Prime has the same volume of passengers as the RAV4 and the RAV4 hybrid. But the cargo space suffers modestly. It offers 33.5 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 63.2 cubic feet with the seats folded down, compared to 37.5 / 69.8 cubic feet for its siblings.
2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Price and availability
The RAV4 Prime arrives in July and will be sold in all 50 states. During the launch year, Toyota plans to sell 5,000 copies to the United States. Thereafter, 20,000 units are planned each year.
You can get a hybrid RAV4 for as little as $ 29,470. But if you want a Bonus, you will have to spend almost $ 10,000 more. Prices start at $ 39,220 for the base SE model, which is certainly well equipped. The RAV4 Prime XSE starts at $ 42,545, plus an additional $ 3,765 if you want the Premium package. Remember that the Premium will be eligible for a federal tax credit of $ 7,500 and any applicable state credit, which should lighten some of the burden.
|Specifications of the Toyota RAV4 Prime 2021|
|STARTING PRICE||$ 39,220 – $ 42,545|
|DISPOSITION||Front engine, all-wheel drive, 5-pass SUV, 4-door|
|ENGINE||I-4 DOHC 16-valve 2.5-liter electric motors / 176 hp / 163 lb-ft plus 179 hp / 199 lb-ft (front) + 53 hp / 89 lb-ft electric motors (rear); Comb 302 hp|
|TRANSMISSION||Cont variable auto|
|EDGE WEIGHT||4250-4300 lb (MT is)|
|L x W x H||180.9 x 73.0 x 66.9 inches|
|0-60 MPH||5.7-9.2 * dry (mfr east)|
|EPA FUEL ECON||40/36/38 mpg; 90 mpg-e combined (east)|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY / HIGHWAY||84/94 kWh / 100 miles (east)|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.51 lb / mile (east)|
|ON SALE||Summer 2020|
|* 9.2 second time in EV mode only.|