2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime Plug-In Hybrid Review: Electrifying Power
If we asked you to imagine the fastest cars in Toyota’s current lineup, what cars would you be imagining? On a scale of 1 to 10, how surprised would you be to discover that the fastest vehicle from Toyota includes the 2021 Rav4 Prime plug-in hybrid SUV? If you answered “12” then we wouldn’t be shocked. The Rav4 Prime is their new and exciting Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) offering that’s set to compete this year with the likes of Hyundai, Kia and Ford. There has 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. It’s gasoline side is powered by a 2.5L Atkinson-cycle inline-4 engine generating 177-hp, where its electric side has two permanent-magnet synchronous AC motors generating a further 179-hp on the front axle. That can be augmented with the additional rear motor with 53-hp which delivers a standard AWD drivetrain.
When everything works together in harmony, you get a combined rating of 302-hp, which is 83-hp more than the regular hybrid Rav4 model. Even though it’s actually a whole 579 pounds heavier than the regular hybrid, it can cover 0 to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds and finishes 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 outmatch the 4-cyl Toyota Supra sports car —- take a moment to breathe and let that sink in.
MORE FOR YOU
On the electric side, the Rav4 is blessed with one additional attribute in the PHEV sector —- all-electric range. It is EPA-rated for 42 miles of EV range, which sets it above the Ford Escape PHEV (37 miles) and even the Hyundai IONIQ PHEV (29 miles). With the manufacturer-estimated 94 MPGe, we’re looking at the most efficient Rav4 ever released.
Same 5th-Gen Rav4 Styling
Those wanting the all-new PHEV but worrying about style changes needn’t be concerned. The Rav4 Prime will get the same upgraded exterior shape and finesse as the other fifth-generation Rav4 models. That boxier, edgier and more masculine aesthetic which has helped catapult the Rav4 back to popularity. Two trim levels are available, the SE and the upgraded XSE.
The interior design is also solid with a choice of black SofTex trim on the seats for a more luxurious feeling. There’s available contrast stitching too for those who want to include a more athletic, sporty look to the interior.
Heated front seats are standard, as is a 7-inch multi-information digital instrument cluster. Driver HUD is available on the XSE, but it’s design looks more like that of an early 2000s video game than a cutting-edge offering in 2021, which is a small sore point.
Further interior enhancements include a panoramic sunroof, paddle shifters, and a soft-leather trim for the steering wheel and shift knob.
One other sore point on the interior is the infotainment screen. While standing large (up to 9 inches when upgraded on XSE) and proud “floating” on the center stack, the control and resolution look more like a 2015 model than a 2021 new offering. These are in a serious need of an update, fast. The saving grace of the infotainment display is that Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come as standard so at least you can 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 pleasing ways —- speed, power, electric range, towing capacity of 2500lbs, great exterior looks, nice upgrade options for the interior, especially on XSE —- but fail to spot other key areas in desperate need of upgrade, such as the infotainment screen and system.
On the whole, it’s an absolutely solid and fun ride and no one can doubt Toyota’s signature build quality and attention to detail in a way that’s universally appealing. But do get your checkbook ready as the Rav4 Prime starts at $38,250 for the SE model and $41,575 for the XSE model.