2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime first drive review: Have your cake and eat it, too

Gasoline-electrical cars do not have to be boring and sluggish. I indicate, they can be, but Toyota has demonstrated that functionality and performance aren’t mutually exceptional. Situation in stage: the 2021 RAV4 Prime. This plug-in hybrid SUV is the automaker’s second-quickest model soon after the Supra sports vehicle. With 302 horsepower on faucet, it can zip from a standstill to 60 mph in as very little as five.seven seconds, a time that is legitimately swift. And many thanks to enough minimal-close electrical torque, it feels even fleeter.

Providing that potent functionality is a two.five-liter 4-cylinder engine, an Atkinson-cycle unit borrowed from the RAV4 Hybrid but retuned for Prime time. Devoid of heading also significantly into the technological weeds, it truly is augmented by a trio of electrical motor-turbines, two in the entrance transaxle assembly, and a 3rd at the rear. The latter supplies on-desire all-wheel push by turning the aft tires. Serving as an electron reservoir is an 18.one-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, mounted below the primary-cabin floor in a way that does not detract from passenger house. It’s cooled applying air-conditioning refrigerant and is backed by a 10-calendar year/one hundred fifty,000-mile guarantee. Drivers are even further shielded from fix charges by a individual, eight-calendar year/100,000-mile guarantee that addresses other hybrid parts.

That generously sized battery will help deliver an performance score of 94 miles per gallon equal (MPGe) and an formal electrical-only assortment of forty two miles. Driving it cautiously and with the climate regulate off a good portion of the time, I managed to coax 45 miles out of the RAV4 Prime although functioning entirely on electrons. Truthfully, I expected a very little additional considering I was driving very conservatively and the conditions have been ideal, with temps in the upper 70s. However, Toyota has sent on its assortment promise.

As for performance, functioning this car or truck about fifty{394cb916d3e8c50723a7ff83328825b5c7d74cb046532de54bc18278d633572f} on electric power and then fifty{394cb916d3e8c50723a7ff83328825b5c7d74cb046532de54bc18278d633572f} on gasoline as soon as the battery pack was depleted, I averaged an indicated 45.three mpg, nevertheless that determine is probably deceptive because real-entire world economy depends enormously on the ratio among people two operating modes. If, for occasion, you push fifty miles and forty two of them are all electrical, the normal gasoline economy is heading to be a lot greater than if you just take a 600-mile road journey burning fossil gasoline the complete way. In that use circumstance, when operated as a traditional hybrid, the RAV4 Prime is rated at a nonetheless-outstanding 38 mpg by the EPA.

The occasions, they are a-chargin’

Hook the RAV4 Prime up to an everyday one hundred twenty-volt household outlet, and it can take around twelve several hours to entirely replenish the battery pack. Plug it in to a 240-volt line with 16 amps of juice, and that time drops to around four.five several hours. However, if which is not speedy more than enough, XSE styles with the high quality package deal (a $three,765 upcharge, which also requires the $815 weather package deal and the $one,620 audio package deal) can recharge in as very little as two.five several hours if you have accessibility to a 6.6-kilowatt, 240-volt outlet.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

As general public charging stations become additional and additional common, it will be less complicated and less complicated to dwell with an electrical car or truck.


Craig Cole/Roadshow

After depleting the battery through screening, I observed a nearby ChargePoint public station. Hooked to a Stage two outlet functioning at 6.6 kW, the car or truck received 13 miles of EV assortment soon after about 45 minutes of charging, right in line with Toyota’s two.five-hour declare.

Irrespective of in essence inventing the modern hybrid, this is Toyota’s initial plug-in SUV. There is no lack of comparable crossover SUV styles available nowadays, but they’re primarily at the upper close of the market. There aren’t also numerous immediate opponents to the RAV4 Prime. Subaru’s Crosstrek is a single, but it only features 17 miles of electrical assortment. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is an additional, with an advertised 22 miles of juice. It’s conceivable you may possibly cross-shop this Toyota with plug-in versions of the Kia Niro or even the Chrysler Pacifica, but none of these are a ideal in shape, possibly. Actually, this RAV4’s number-a single rival is the new Ford Escape PHEV, which features slightly fewer electrical assortment at 37 miles and has around 93 fewer horsepower, but at least it truly is a touch additional effective at 100 MPGe.

Forceful however mild-mannered

Driving the RAV4 Prime purely on electric power is a fantastic experience. It’s punchy, smooth and almost silent. As with other EVs, you can find tons of minimal-close torque, which makes this Toyota leap off the line when you nail the accelerator. Its enthusiasm does wane at greater speeds, but its functionality is nonetheless reliable, equipped to hit 60 mph in around 9.two seconds. On the other hand, this vehicle’s functionality shines most when driven as a hybrid. Throw that internal-combustion engine into the blend and this RAV4’s sprinting talents improve by leaps and bounds, with its -to-60-mph time dropping by almost forty{394cb916d3e8c50723a7ff83328825b5c7d74cb046532de54bc18278d633572f}.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

Strong and effective, what additional could you question for?


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When navigating corners, the Prime feels like it has a touch additional system roll than the RAV4 TRD I reviewed not too long ago. This is likely because of its softer ride, which is partly thanks to loads of added weight. At about four,three hundred kilos in XSE trim, this car or truck is around five hundred kilos heavier than the bulkiest RAV4 Hybrid, many thanks to its a lot bigger battery pack. To accommodate that further mass, the vehicle’s chassis has been retuned. The steering is light to the touch, nevertheless it truly is not as crisp as in other RAV4s. The Prime is, however, particularly silent within many thanks to laminated entrance aspect glass and further audio deadening, alterations that make for a serene driving experience. Braking sense is also praiseworthy. This plug-in SUV’s pedal has wonderful weight to it and is easy to modulate, with no discernible weirdness when transitioning from regenerative to friction braking.

A cozy and multipurpose interior

Inside of the RAV4 Prime, you can find not a lot to get excited about, and which is a good detail. Just like the non-plug-in model, this Toyota’s cabin is a single of the better offerings in this segment, currently being attractively created and designed of high-quality supplies. My XSE tester is even further gussied up with purple stitching on the door panels, dashboard and somewhere else, in addition the seats are lined in SofTex imitation leather-based, which not only feels wonderful but makes a convincing argument that cow hides aren’t necessary.

As in additional run-of-the-mill RAV4s, the Prime’s rear seat is generously portioned and very cozy, with good help, in addition lots of house for knees and noggins. A pair of two.one-amp USB-A ports provide riders relegated to the back again, nevertheless the car or truck is fitted with a complete of five these kinds of outlets, in addition XSE styles aspect Qi wi-fi charging, so nobody’s telephone has to go without having juice.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

This Toyota’s infotainment system is fairly middling, but the substantial display screen is apparent, vibrant and easy to access.


Craig Cole/Roadshow

When it truly is time to make an Ikea run for a load of marginal high-quality, affordably priced, flat-packed furnishings, the RAV4 Prime makes an outstanding schlepper. It features 33.five cubic ft of hauling house at the rear of the second-row seat, a determine that grows to a claimed 63.two when the backrests are dropped. These figures are slightly at the rear of what the standard RAV4 and its hybrid counterpart offer you. They each max out at 69.eight cubes. All in, the Prime nonetheless features a couple additional cubic ft of house than the Escape plug-in.

Although you can find lots to like about the Prime’s interior, a couple matters could be enhanced. The chicklet-like climate regulate buttons are simply also compact to effortlessly manipulate although driving, and some of the switches on the steering wheel sense unbelievably low-cost. 

Technological know-how bonanza

On that note, I’m not heading to even further bludgeon a deceased equine, but as I’ve outlined numerous occasions prior to, I have a tendency to discover Toyota’s multimedia offerings to be unattractive and illogical, and which is regretably nonetheless genuine in the RAV4 Prime XSE. But it truly is not all lousy information.

This infotainment system is at least speedy, and the pill-design and style 9-inch display screen it truly is splashed across is big and easy to access, as it truly is mounted large on the dashboard. Lower-close SE styles aspect an eight-incher. With all that exhibit real estate, Apple CarPlay (which, together with Android Auto and Amazon Alexa compatibility comes standard) is super easy to use, showing up wonderful and huge.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

The RAV4 Prime features lots of functions and features. 


Craig Cole/Roadshow

If you nonetheless have to have additional screens in your everyday living, do not fret, because all Prime styles aspect a reconfigurable seven-inch exhibit nestled in the gauge cluster. It’s apparent and easy more than enough to cycle by means of the numerous menus for matters like gasoline economy and the journey odometer. If which is not more than enough, XSE styles can even be fitted with a 10-inch color head-up exhibit, which tasks relevant driving information on to the windshield. This item is bundled with the $three,765 high quality package deal, which also gets you the aforementioned 6.6-kW charger, ventilated entrance seats and an wonderful digital rearview mirror. The latter functions however an additional display screen at the rear of the glass in which a online video feed from the reversing digicam is displayed to deliver a a lot broader discipline of perspective at the rear of the car or truck.

That package deal also contains a 360-degree digicam system, which can be helpful for certain parking conditions — in theory at least. For some motive, this aspect, and even the RAV4’s standard reversing digicam, are appallingly lousy, super gritty and difficult to see on the infotainment display screen. This is notably unusual because the digital rearview mirror, which is available on XSE styles, looks fantastic, offering a apparent, crisp impression.

When it comes to sophisticated driver aids, Toyota Safety Sense two. is standard products on the RAV4 Prime, bringing matters like automated emergency braking and road-sign recognition to the desk. Lane-retaining guide is provided, also, and works very properly, even if it feels a little bit gentle-handed. It doesn’t lock you into the middle of the lane very as strongly as competing programs do, ensuing in additional wandering. You also get adaptive cruise regulate, nevertheless it truly is fairly middling. On the highway, it truly is fantastic, seamlessly modifying car or truck speed to match surrounding cars, but in halt-and-go targeted traffic it can be fairly jerky.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

Like other customers of the RAV4 family, the Prime model is very handsome. 


Craig Cole/Roadshow

Pounds and (typical) sense

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is slated to start off arriving at dealerships in all fifty states later on this thirty day period. Maintaining matters easy, it will be presented in two trims: SE and XSE. My best-shelf tester arrived fitted with all 3 available alternatives deals, matters that inflate its value tag to right around $49,000 like $one,one hundred twenty in shipping and delivery fees. Which is a steep value to fork out for what is a mainstream compact crossover SUV, however, that determine does not include any probable bargains. The RAV4 Prime could be qualified for up to $seven,five hundred in federal tax credits, in addition other bargains presented by personal states. Of training course, you can save a huge chunk of adjust by receiving an SE model. They kick off right around $39,195. Which is nonetheless a little bit pricier than Ford’s entry-level Escape plug-in hybrid, which starts at roughly 35 grand, but the RAV4 does have additional power and a nicer interior, plus  Toyota enjoys a better status for extensive-phrase high-quality and resale benefit.

Punchy and effective, the Prime is effortlessly my pick of today’s RAV4 litter. The addition of a plug-in hybrid powertrain has designed a good SUV even better. If you can manage the upcharge, this is the RAV4 to get.

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