Toyota RAV4 Prime 2021 – Review, Specs, Photos

The plug-in-hybrid Prime version of Toyota’s best-selling RAV4 is finally here and will land in dealerships this summer. The 2021 RAV4 Prime will start at $39,220. Toyota says the vehicle can cover an estimated 42 miles on battery power alone. Plus, Toyota claims it will be able to go from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds via a 2.5-liter inline-four engine. Combine that powerplant with the Prime’s electric motors, one powering the rear wheels, and you get a combined 302 horsepower. Not bad for a “green” SUV.Full review and all information about the car – 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime.

New Toyota RAV4 Prime 2021

Both versions will have Toyota’s Safety Sense (TSS 2.0) driver-assist package that includes adaptive cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist, automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane centering. Much like the RAV4 Hybrid, the RAV4 Prime’s acceleration is smooth and linear from a stop. Despite the extra horses, it doesn’t feel radically more powerful from a stop than its sibling. The gas engine is quick to jump in with an extra kick when you’re switching lanes on the freeway in hybrid mode. When the engine engages, however, you hear a loud groan. Toyota says it tweaked the RAV4 Prime’s suspension for a smoother ride, but we didn’t notice a significant improvement from the RAV4 Hybrid. It massages out small bumps well enough but acts jittery over harsh pavement. Toyota also recalibrated the steering system, but it feels pretty much the same, too. It’s just as dull as it is in the RAV4 Hybrid. Toyota RAV4 Prime 2021 – photos colors and price in this article!

Interior

The interior should feel familiar if you’re driven a RAV4 Hybrid. Buttons are smartly laid out on the dashboard, giving the cabin an uncluttered feel. Large, grippy knobs allow you to adjust the climate without taking your eyes off the road. On the lower center console, the shifter and cupholders are placed for easy access. Like with the RAV4 Hybrid, soft-touch materials everywhere make the cabin feel more comfortable. The RAV4 benefits from excellent visibility. It’s easy to see out the vehicle thanks to the low windows and unobtrusive pillars. Our XSE tester came with a long list of standard features, including plush leatherette seats and ambient lighting. On the tech front, there are five USB ports and wireless phone charging. This top trim also includes a 9-inch touchscreen. On the options roster, a premium package brings along a 10-inch head-up display, exclusive to the Prime. It also includes a foot-activated tailgate, panoramic moonroof, adaptive headlights, perforated and ventilated front seats, and a bird’s eye view camera. With the battery mounted under the floor, the RAV4 Prime has the same passenger volume as the RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid. But cargo space suffers modestly. It offers 33.5 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 63.2 with the seats folded, compared to 37.5/69.8 cubic feet for its siblings. Toyota RAV4 Prime 2021 – see the photo in the gallery on our website.

Exterior

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid gives small-SUV buyers the ability to drive up to 42 miles on electric power. Unlike many hybrids, which are designed with fuel efficiency as the number one concern, performance is part of the RAV4 Prime’s game, too. Toyota claims it is the second-fastest model in its lineup, trailing only the Supra sports car in acceleration. Consumer Reports members will find our detailed first drive impressions below, including what we like and what we don’t like so far.

Colors

Perennially a best-selling SUV, the Toyota RAV4 offers a trim for every budget. The price-leading LE trim is pretty basic, but the high-end Limited can challenge the Lexus NX with its many luxury features. The new TRD Off-Road model promises improved capability when hitting the trails, and its rugged styling makes it look right at home alongside the Toyota 4Runner SUV and the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. The ute’s driving dynamics tend toward the mundane side of the spectrum, but most consumers will find the 2021 RAV4’s ride comfortable and its handling agreeable. Adult passengers will be pleased with the generous amount of legroom in the front and rear seats. And cargo room is competitive with the best in the segment. If it’s fuel economy you’re after, consider the RAV4 Hybrid, which we review separately.

Fuel economy

One key differentiator between the RAV4 Prime and its siblings is its ability to cover distances on EV power alone. Some customers will be able to commute to work every day without using a drop of gasoline. The RAV4 Prime is expected to travel 42 miles on a single charge, giving it the highest EV range of any plug-in hybrid SUV on the market. Ford’s plug-in hybrid Escape isn’t far behind with an EV range of 37 miles, except the RAV4 Prime has all-wheel drive, while the Escape plug-in hybrid is only available with front-wheel drive.

Horsepower

The RAV4 Prime builds on the features of the regular RAV4 Hybrid, but brings more performance—with 302 horsepower on board, it’s the most powerful RAV4 ever. Toyota retuned the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and endowed the Prime with a newly developed, high-capacity lithium-ion battery to power dual electric motors. All-wheel drive comes standard.

Technical specifications

Charging times vary dramatically depending on the method. Included with the RAV4 Prime is a 3.3-kW, 120V Level 1 charging cable, allowing customers to recharge the battery in about 12 hours from home. With a 3.3-kW 240V charger, the time drops to 4.5 hours. XSE models with the Premium package feature enhanced 6.6-kW charging capability to replenish the battery in 2.5 hours on a faster Level 2 charger. With the gas and electric bits combined, total driving range is expected to be 600 miles. After initially estimating a fuel economy rating of 90 mpg-e, Toyota is now anticipating greater efficiency. The SUV is expected to deliver 94 mpg-e, an impressive number, but lower than the Escape PHEV’s 100 mpg-e rating.

Price

LE: $27,070; XLE: $28,365; XLE Premium: $31,070; Adventure: $34,175; Limited: $35,600; TRD Off-Road: $36,400. It’s hard for us to resist the cool new TRD Off-Road, but we’d practice restraint and choose the mid-range XLE Premium. It provides plenty of standard equipment that the LE and XLE don’t offer, such as 19-inch wheels, a power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, faux-leather upholstery, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Toyota makes its suite of driver-assistance features standard across the lineup, so there’s not much reason to go with a pricier trim—unless, of course, you really want ventilated seats.

Safety

Toyota has been applying a “Prime” moniker to its Toyota Prius for a few years now. That plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the Prius has a slightly higher price and a somewhat bigger battery that enables 25 miles of electric driving before the engine comes to life. It’s sensible — if you can plug it in and recharge it nightly — but that’s about all. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime shares that nondescript suffix, and perhaps unfortunately so. This is a much more interesting and more compelling plug-in hybrid than the Prius Prime.

Motors

The RAV4 Prime builds on the features of the regular RAV4 Hybrid, but brings more performance—with 302 horsepower on board, it’s the most powerful RAV4 ever. Toyota retuned the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and endowed the Prime with a newly developed, high-capacity lithium-ion battery to power dual electric motors. All-wheel drive comes standard. Prices for the RAV4 Prime start at $38,100 for the SE model and top off at $41,425 for the XSE.

Configurations

The RAV4 Prime arrives this July, and it will be sold in all 50 states. In the launch year, Toyota expects to sell 5,000 copies for the U.S. Afterward, 20,000 units are planned yearly. You can get a RAV4 Hybrid for as little as $29,470. But if you want a Prime, you’ll need to spend almost $10,000 more. Prices start at $39,220 for the base SE model, which is admittedly well equipped. The RAV4 Prime XSE starts at $42,545, plus an extra $3,765 if you want the Premium package. Keep in mind the Prime will be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit and any applicable state credits, which should lighten some of the load.

Review

The Toyota RAV4 Prime starts with the top-selling full-hybrid vehicle in the U.S. market, and adds plug-in hybrid capability for an anticipated 42 miles—3 miles more than previously estimated—of all-electric driving. And then there’s the punchline: With a higher power output from the hybrid system—302 horsepower—it’s the quickest-accelerating RAV4, the quickest four-door Toyota, and the second-quickest of all Toyota models, behind the Supra sports car. If that isn’t enough, Toyota has put a price tag on the Prime plug-in hybrid SUV and added more detail about features and options. The takeaway: The Prime could end up costing less than the Hybrid if you can claim state plug-in vehicle incentives; and provided you were planning to get one of the better-equipped models in the lineup, the RAV4 Prime is looking like the better deal over the RAV4 Hybrid no matter where you are.

Release date

Separately on the XSE, a Weather Package adds a heated steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, and rain-sensing wipers with a wiper de-icer for $815, while a $2,435 Weather and Audio Package adds to that JBL premium audio, three years of dynamic navigation, and one year of Destination Assist. Fully optioned XSE models will include the $5,760 Weather with Audio and Premium Package, piling on the aforementioned upgrades plus a 120V AC power outlet in the cargo area, a panoramic moonroof, hands-free “kick” power-hatch actuation, heated-and-ventilated front seats, parking assist, a head-up display, and adaptive front headlights. That puts the grand-total cost of a loaded XSE at $49,305—before including any additional a la carte options.

Video

Considering only the federal tax credit, the RAV4 Prime XSE adds up to $35,045. The 2021 RAV4 Hybrid XSE, which we call the best hybrid for the U.S. market—starts at $35,420. And this is all before the inflation of a model year catches up with the RAV4 Hybrid’s sticker price. Toyota says that the Prime will be the quickest and most fuel-efficient RAV4 ever. It won’t be the most expensive ever, though. That nod goes to the all-electric, Tesla-powered 2012-2014 Toyota RAV4 EV. In that model’s last year, it started at $50,660, including destination.

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