2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Plug-in Hybrid EV Resets the Performance Bar In America’s Largest Family Segment

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The all-new 2021 RAV4 Prime has stunning speed and efficiency numbers. Will the sales numbers be equally impressive?

Toyota officially launched its 2021 RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) this week, showing off the production version at the Los Angles Auto Show and providing fans and shoppers with all the specifications one could dream of. The numbers are very impressive. There isn’t a high-volume automaker with anything quite like this new RAV4 Prime in America. We suspect that it will sell well. The RAV4 Hybrid, upon which this plug-in is based, is presently the top-selling green crossover vehicle in America by a long shot.

Toyota RAV4 Prime – Range

Let’s start with its all-electric range. 39 miles. That is seven miles longer than the average America’s round-trip daily commute. So, for many buyers, the RAV4 Prime will function in their daily use as an electric vehicle. However, unlike a battery-electric vehicle, the RAV4 Prime can also operate for hundreds of uninterrupted miles as a super-efficient gasoline hybrid that can be fueled up at any corner. How efficient? Toyota says that the RAV4 Prime will sport a 90 MPGe rating from the EPA. For most buyers, there will be no meaningful difference in energy costs between this RAV4 PHEV and a fully-electric vehicle. Some green vehicle fans consider PHEVs to be more than a bridge to fully-electric. Or at least a very long one. The RAV4 Prime will test that theory.

Toyota RAV4 Prime Acceleration

Fans of the RAV4 know that the V6-equipped RAV4s from 2012 to 2016 was not only loved by owners but also pretty quick. Toyota says the 0-60 MPH time was about 6.3 seconds. The new RAV4 Prime is a half-second quicker to sixty with an official number of 5.8 seconds according to Toyota. Do we really care? Heck no. But 0-60 times are a metric. They give one an understanding without driving the vehicle how they feel and perform. With a 2.5-liter gas engine and dual electric motors – one at each end – we suspect the RAV4 Prime will be very satisfying to drive. The EV-torque should be very strong when starting off. Once underway, the total system hp is 302. There have been a lot of very successful sports cars with less power and slower performance than that. For example, the first handful of Supra generations. Miata owners may want to politely wave, rather than flick the headlights if a RAV4 Prime rolls up at a stoplight. With standard AWD, the RAV4 Prime will also be quick off the line in any weather.

Toyota RAV4 Prime – What Else Did Toyota Update

In addition to nearly quadrupling the fuel economy of America’s most popular family vehicle, Toyota fixes its infotainment system with the RAV4 Prime. Instead of a nav app almost nobody outside of Toyota’s corporate think tank had heard of (Scout?), the new RAV4 Prime gets Alexa, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto standard on both trims. Toyota also plans to throw the usual “sporty bits” at the Prime version of the RAV4. Including 19-inch low profile tires. That gives us some cause for concern. Hopefully, the ride comfort will not suffer.

With a history of electric RAV4 vehicles in America six years older than Tesla’s existence, Toyota is the world’s leader in green vehicles and has been for two decades. We can’t wait to test this new updated RAV4 Prime PHEV from Toyota.





John Goreham

John Goreham

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