Toyota RAV4 vs. RAV4 Prime: Which Is Better?
If you follow our long-term vehicle evaluation fleet, you know that we currently have a 2019 Toyota RAV4 SUV for a one-year trial. These tests are great for testing reliability, day-to-day roominess and fuel economy, but there is always a risk that the range of vehicles in question will receive major updates while we have one under our control. . Luckily for us, only one major change hit the RAV4 lineup during this time, and that is the arrival of the 2021 RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid model. Does this change our view of the benefits of gas-only RAV4?
RAV4 vs RAV4 Prime: power
After spending a lot of time in both SUVs, it’s clear that the Prime has a very different personality than our one-year-old RAV4. (We also looked at the regular non-plug-in RAV4 hybrid versus the Prime.) One of the main reasons for this: the Prime is much more powerful than the standard model. Equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and electric motors, the Prime produces a total system power of 302 hp, compared to 203 hp of the gasoline-powered RAV4. The extra weight of the plug-in keeps it from feeling as powerful as its potency suggests. At 4,300 pounds in the top XSE version, the Prime weighs 785 pounds more than our long-range model. That said, the added mass doesn’t affect much beyond the perceived liveliness; the two are similar in terms of steering and ride quality.
Our spin in the RAV4 Prime really highlighted the relative lack of refinement displayed by our RAV4’s engine. The plug-in accelerates smoothly in both hybrid and electric mode, which we can’t say for the somewhat thrashing conventional inline-four. That said, we probably wouldn’t mind as much if we hadn’t driven the Prime.
RAV4 vs RAV4 Prime: fuel economy
The regular RAV4 is efficient, peaking at 30 mpg combined. As expected, the RAV4 Prime takes efficiency to a new level, as it is capable of traveling on pure electricity or using the gas engine. It achieves 94 mpg (equivalent miles per gallon) on electricity and gas and 38 mpg on regular gas. One of the biggest advantages offered by the Prime is the range. Toyota says it can go 42 miles on an electric charge, which is pretty close to what we got in our short-term loan with the plug-in. With the gasoline engine engaged, it can travel a total of 600 miles. We know less than 400 miles on a tank with the regular RAV4, although this is not unusual for a gasoline SUV. And in a previous update, we found that our long-term RAV4 drastically beat its EPA estimated highway fuel mileage rating, which is impressive.
RAV4 vs RAV4 Prime: finishes / price
Prices for the gas-only 2021 RAV4 range from $ 27,225 for the base LE trim to $ 36,955 for the butch-looking all-terrain TRD. The RAV4 Prime is much more expensive, ranging from $ 39,275 for the SE to $ 42,600 for the XSE. (Only these two versions are offered for the Prime). Keep in mind that the Premium is eligible for a federal tax credit of $ 7,500 and other state credits, but these are post-purchase incentives. Also note that the Prime offers a few fancy features that the regular RAV4 doesn’t, including a larger 9.0-inch touchscreen and 10.0-inch color head-up display. While our long-term RAV4 doesn’t offer these goodies, we don’t particularly miss them. We’re pleased with the value offered by its interior, which offers comfortable cloth seats, efficient interior layout and excellent visibility for an affordable price of $ 31,509. Keep in mind that our long-term model is a 2019 model and the prices are a bit different for 2021. There is definitely a place for Prime, but based on the trim and pricing structure, we think that most customers will be very happy with the standard RAV4.
If you had to ask us which one we’d like to spend a weekend in, we’d probably say the RAV4 Prime for its great power and smooth electric operation. But if you were to ask us which one we would buy, it would be hard to overlook the huge selection and get some for the money you can get with the traditional RAV4.
Learn more about our long-term 2019 Toyota RAV4 XLE: