2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE AWD

The RAV4 Prime is the first-ever plug-in hybrid version of Toyota’s popular crossover and is all-new for 2021. It has 42 miles of all-electric driving. Like the gas-powered and hybrid versions of the RAV4, the RAV4 Prime has a smooth ride, a pleasant interior and lots of standard features and tech, and it also boasts peppy acceleration.

Base Price: $41,425
As Tested: $49,776
Horsepower: 302
Mileage: 94 MPGe electricity + gas/38 MPGe gasoline only

The five-passenger RAV4 Prime comes in two trims: SE and XSE. Starting prices are $38,100 and $41,425, respectively. These are relatively high compared to other hybrid and electric crossovers and SUVs.

All-wheel-drive is standard. The RAV4 Prime has the same AWD system as the RAV4 Hybrid. There’s a separate rear-mounted electric motor that powers the rear wheels when needed.

Toyota says the RAV4 Prime is the most powerful and quickest RAV4 ever. It’s also the quickest four-door model in the Toyota line-up as it can go from zero to 60 mpg in just 5.7 seconds. Only the two-door Toyota Supra can beat that.

The RAV4 Prime is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 177 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque, combined with an electric motor. Total output is 302 horses. A continuously variable transmission is standard.

You can choose between EV and Hybrid drive modes. As the name suggests, in EV mode, the RAV4 Prime uses only electric power. Hybrid mode uses electric, gas or a combination of both.

While it’s not the sportiest hybrid or EV crossover, the RAV4 Prime has spirited acceleration and plenty of power for merging and passing at freeway speeds, although the gas engine can be a bit noisy when you floor the accelerator. The ride is smooth even over rough roads and bumps but there is some body lean when cornering. The brakes feel pretty normal without that squishy feel of some regenerative braking systems. The CVT is smooth. Visibility is good all the way around. All in all, the RAV4 Prime is pleasant to drive and has livelier performance than its gas-powered sibling.

The RAV4 Prime can be fully charged with a 240-volt outlet in 2.5 to 4.5 hours. It takes 12 hours with a regular 120-volt household plug.

Fuel efficiency is good among plug-in hybrids. EPA ratings for my tester are 94 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) with electricity and gasoline, and 38 mpg with gas only. I got 99.9 MPGe during my week with a mix of city and highway driving. I found that 42 miles of all-electric range was enough for most of my daily driving needs. And if you drive more miles, there’s no range anxiety because the gas engine seamlessly kicks in.

The interior is pleasant, comfortable and spacious. Even taller passengers enjoy good leg- and headroom in both rows. Materials look and feel nice and most are soft-touch. The seating has fashionable red stitching, whether you have the cloth or faux leather seating. The cabin is pretty quiet.

Standard features include proximity keyless entry, rearview camera, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual-zone automatic climate control, seven-inch digital multi-information display, eight-inch touch screen, six-speaker audio system, satellite radio, Bluetooth, five USB ports, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and Wi-Fi hot spot.

All RAV4 models come standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 which includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, lane tracing assist, pedestrian detection, traffic sign recognition, and automatic high beam headlights.

Available features include bird’s eye camera, nine-inch touchscreen, 11-speaker JBL premium audio system, navigation, wireless device charging, moonroof, ambient interior lighting, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, moonroof, household-style power outlet, universal garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Available driver assistance technologies include rear cross traffic braking and front and rear parking assist with automated braking.

The infotainment system is user-friendly, whether you have the eight-inch- or nine-inch screen. The graphics, though, are looking a little old school. The volume knob is rubber which makes it easy to use. However, some of the other physical buttons are rather small, making them challenging to use especially while driving.

The RAV4 Prime has about the same cargo room as its gas-powered sibling. There are 33.5 cubic feet with both rows of seating in place and 63.2 cubes with the second row folded. The 60/40 split-reclining rear seats fold down almost completely flat, providing room for large and/or bulky items. A power liftgate is standard and a hands-free liftgate is available.

The good:

40-mile electric driving range

Peppy acceleration

Smooth ride

Pleasant, roomy interior

Lots of standard and available features and tech

Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

The not-so-good:

Less sporty handling than some rivals

Relatively high starting prices

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $41,425. The Premium Audio Package is $1,620 and includes a nine-inch touchscreen, navigation, 11-speaker and JBL audio system with subwoofer and amplifier. The Weather Package is $375 and includes heated leather-trimmed steering wheel and rain-sensing variable intermittent windshield wipers with de-icer function. Special color is $425. The Premium Package is $3,765 and includes a 10-inch color head-up display, 6.6 kW onboard charger, panoramic glass roof, bird’s eye view camera, SofTex-trimmed seats with sporty red accents and stitching, heated and ventilated perforated front seats, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with two-position memory, four-way power adjustable front passenger seat with seatback pocket, digital rearview mirror with HomeLink universal garage door opener, smart key system on all doors, 120-volt power outlet in cargo area, adaptive front headlight system, LED projector headlights with auto level control and auto on/off feature, height-adjustable foot-activated power liftgate, and front and rear parking assist with automated braking. The mudguard is $129. The roof rack cross bars are $315. Carpet floor mats and cargo mat are $269. Door sill protector is $199. Rear bumper applique is $69. The wheel lock is $65. Delivery fee is $1,120 bringing the grand total to $49,776.

Bottom line:

The RAV4 Prime has everything you’d expect in a RAV4 with the added bonus that it can go 40 miles on all-electric power and is quicker than its gas-powered sibling. It does cost more than the gas-powered RAV4, but many drivers feel that’s a small price to pay for being more environmentally friendly. If you can spend upwards of 40-grand, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is worth consideration.

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