2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime plug-in hybrid review: electrifying power
If we asked you to imagine the fastest cars in Toyota’s current lineup, which cars would you imagine? On a scale of 1 to 10, how surprised would you be to find that Toyota’s fastest vehicle includes the 2021 Rav4 Prime plug-in hybrid SUV? If you answered “12” we would not be shocked. The Rav4 Prime is their new and exciting plug-in hybrid (PHEV) offering that is expected to compete this year with brands like Hyundai, Kia and Ford. There’s been a lot of buzz about the Rav4 Prime, but does this PHEV crossover live up to it all?
Speed and power abound
The first thing to note is that the 2021 Rav4 Prime is undoubtedly quick for this segment. Its gasoline side is powered by a 2.5L Atkinson cycle in-line 4-cylinder engine generating 177 hp, while its electric side has two permanent magnet synchronous AC motors generating an additional 179 hp on the front axle. . This can be increased with the additional 53hp rear engine that provides a standard AWD transmission.
When everything works in harmony, you get a combined output of 302 horsepower, which is 83 horsepower more than the regular Rav4 hybrid model. Even though it actually weighs 579 pounds more than the regular hybrid, it can go 0 to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds and complete the quarter mile in 14 seconds. When measured from 5 to 50 mph, 30 to 50 mph, and 50 to 70 mph, the Rav4 Prime can even outperform the 4-cylinder Toyota Supra sports car – take a moment to breathe and let it in.
On the electrical side, the Rav4 has an additional attribute in the PHEV sector – the all-electric range. It’s EPA rated for 42 miles of electric range, which puts it above the Ford Escape PHEV (37 miles) and even the Hyundai IONIQ PHEV (29 miles). With the manufacturer’s estimated 94 MPGe, we’re taking a look at the most efficient Rav4 ever released.
Same 5th generation Rav4 styling
Those who want the all-new PHEV but are worried about styling changes don’t have to worry. The Rav4 Prime will get the same exterior shape and finesse as the other fifth-generation Rav4 models. That boxier, bolder, and more masculine aesthetic that helped catapult the Rav4 into popularity again. Two trim levels are available, the SE and the upgraded XSE.
The interior design is also solid with a choice of black SofTex upholstery on the seats for a more luxurious feel. Contrast stitching is also available for those who want to add a more athletic and sporty look to the interior.
Heated front seats are standard, as is the 7-inch multi-information digital instrument panel. Driver HUD is available on the XSE, but its design looks more like an early 2000s video game than a peak offering in 2021, which is a small sore point.
Other interior upgrades include a panoramic sunroof, paddle shifters, and soft leather trim for the steering wheel and shift knob.
Another sore spot inside is the infotainment screen. While they’re big (up to 9 inches when upgrading to XSE) and proud to ‘float’ on the center console, the control and resolution feels more like a 2015 model than a new 2021 offering. These are in serious need of a quick update. The saving grace of the infotainment screen is that Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard, at least allowing you to bypass Toyota’s dated system.
Verdict: a great performer, but awaiting further updates
It’s interesting how Toyota can update the Rav4 to create the Prime in so many fundamental and enjoyable ways – speed, horsepower, electric range, 2,500 lb towing capacity, great exterior appearance, nice upgrade options for inside, especially on XSE – but fail to spot other key areas in desperate need of upgrading, such as the display and infotainment system.
All in all, it’s an absolutely solid and fun ride and no one can doubt Toyota’s build quality and attention to detail in a universally appealing way. But have your checkbook ready because the Rav4 Prime starts at $ 38,250 for the SE model and $ 41,575 for the XSE model.