2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime first drive review: High performance, low consumption

Do not feel that gasoline-electric powered autos are something but dull and slow? Nicely, it’s time to alter your tune, because the RAV4 Key is the second-fastest Toyota right after the Supra sporting activities car or truck. With 302 horsepower on faucet, this plug-in hybrid SUV can zip from a standstill to 60 mph in as minor as 5.seven seconds, a time that is legitimately swift. And many thanks to sufficient very low-end electric powered torque, it feels even fleeter.

Delivering that powerful overall performance is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder motor, an Atkinson-cycle device borrowed from the RAV4 Hybrid but retuned for Key time. With no likely much too far into the technical weeds, it’s augmented by a trio of electric powered motor-turbines, two in the entrance transaxle assembly, and a 3rd at the rear. The latter provides on-demand from customers all-wheel push by turning the aft tires. Serving as an electron reservoir is an eighteen.1-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, mounted underneath the main-cabin ground in a way that does not detract from passenger place. It is cooled using air-conditioning refrigerant and is backed by a 10-calendar year/one hundred fifty,000-mile guarantee. Motorists are further shielded from repair service expenditures by a different, eight-calendar year/100,000-mile warranty that covers other hybrid components.

That generously sized battery helps offer a preliminary EPA effectiveness ranking of ninety four miles for each gallon equal (MPGe) and an electric powered-only variety approximated at 42 miles. Driving it carefully and with the climate manage off a excellent portion of the time, I managed to coax forty five miles out of the RAV4 Key while functioning exclusively on electrons. Honestly, I anticipated a minor additional thinking about I was driving very conservatively and the disorders were being excellent, with temps in the higher 70s. Nevertheless, Toyota has shipped on its variety assure.

As for effectiveness, functioning this auto about fifty% on electricity and then fifty% on gasoline once the battery pack was depleted, I averaged an indicated forty five.3 mpg, while that determine is perhaps deceptive because genuine-environment economic climate is dependent enormously on the ratio between all those two running modes. If, for instance, you push fifty miles and 42 of them are all electric powered, the normal fuel economic climate is likely to be a lot bigger than if you take a 600-mile street vacation burning fossil fuel the full way.

The moments, they are a-chargin’

Hook the RAV4 Key up to an ordinary 120-volt household outlet, and it requires all over twelve hours to entirely replenish the battery pack. Plug it in to a 240-volt line with 16 amps of juice, and that time drops to all over 4.5 hours. Nevertheless, if that’s not fast sufficient, XSE products with the quality package (a $3,765 upcharge, which also demands the $815 weather conditions package and the $1,620 audio package) can recharge in as minor as 2.5 hours if you have obtain to a 6.6-kilowatt, 240-volt outlet.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

As public charging stations grow to be additional and additional prevalent, it will be easier and easier to stay with an electric powered auto.


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After depleting the battery for the duration of testing, I found a nearby ChargePoint public station. Hooked to a Amount 2 outlet functioning at 6.6 kW, the auto gained 13 miles of EV variety right after about forty five minutes of charging, appropriate in line with Toyota’s 2.5-hour assert.

Irrespective of fundamentally inventing the present day hybrid, this is Toyota’s to start with plug-in SUV. There is no lack of very similar crossover SUV products offered these days, but they are primarily at the higher end of the sector. There are not much too a lot of immediate rivals to the RAV4 Key. Subaru’s Crosstrek is 1, but it only presents 17 miles of electric powered variety. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is another, with an marketed 22 miles of juice. It is conceivable you may possibly cross-store this Toyota with plug-in versions of the Kia Niro or even the Chrysler Pacifica, but none of these are a excellent match, either. Genuinely, this RAV4’s number-1 rival is the new Ford Escape PHEV, which presents a little bit much less electric powered variety at 37 miles and has all over ninety three much less horsepower, but at least it’s a contact additional efficient at 100 MPGe.

Forceful nevertheless moderate-mannered

Driving the RAV4 Key purely on electricity is a wonderful encounter. It is punchy, easy and virtually silent. As with other EVs, there is certainly tons of very low-end torque, which makes this Toyota leap off the line when you nail the accelerator. Its enthusiasm does wane at bigger speeds, but its overall performance is continue to good, in a position to hit 60 mph in all over 9.2 seconds. Even so, this vehicle’s overall performance shines most when pushed as a hybrid. Throw that interior-combustion motor into the mix and this RAV4’s sprinting talents strengthen by leaps and bounds, with its -to-60-mph time dropping by virtually forty%.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

Strong and efficient, what additional could you check with for?


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When navigating corners, the Key feels like it has a contact additional overall body roll than the RAV4 TRD I reviewed just lately. This is likely because of its softer ride, which is partly because of to masses of additional pounds. At about 4,three hundred pounds in XSE trim, this auto is all over five hundred pounds heavier than the bulkiest RAV4 Hybrid, many thanks to its a lot greater battery pack. To accommodate that further mass, the vehicle’s chassis has been retuned. The steering is light-weight to the contact, while it’s not as crisp as in other RAV4s. The Key is, having said that, really tranquil inside of many thanks to laminated entrance aspect glass and further sound deadening, alterations that make for a serene driving encounter. Braking feel is also praiseworthy. This plug-in SUV’s pedal has wonderful pounds to it and is simple to modulate, with no discernible weirdness when transitioning from regenerative to friction braking.

A relaxed and multipurpose inside

Within the RAV4 Key, there is certainly not a lot to get enthusiastic about, and that’s a excellent point. Just like the non-plug-in model, this Toyota’s cabin is 1 of the far better offerings in this phase, staying attractively made and produced of quality resources. My XSE tester is further gussied up with purple stitching on the doorway panels, dashboard and in other places, moreover the seats are protected in SofTex imitation leather-based, which not only feels wonderful but makes a convincing argument that cow hides are not required.

As in additional run-of-the-mill RAV4s, the Prime’s rear seat is generously portioned and very relaxed, with excellent support, moreover a great deal of place for knees and noggins. A pair of 2.1-amp USB-A ports provide riders relegated to the back, while the auto is equipped with a full of 5 such shops, moreover XSE products feature Qi wi-fi charging, so nobody’s cellphone has to go without having juice.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

This Toyota’s infotainment system is very middling, but the huge monitor is clear, vibrant and simple to attain.


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When it’s time to make an Ikea run for a load of marginal quality, affordably priced, flat-packed home furnishings, the RAV4 Key makes an fantastic schlepper. It presents 33.5 cubic toes of hauling place at the rear of the second-row seat, a determine that grows to a claimed sixty three.2 when the backrests are dropped. These figures are a little bit at the rear of what the regular RAV4 and its hybrid counterpart provide. They both equally max out at 69.eight cubes. All in, the Key continue to presents a several additional cubic toes of place than the Escape plug-in.

Though there is certainly a great deal to like about the Prime’s inside, a several points could be enhanced. The chicklet-like climate manage buttons are just much too modest to effortlessly manipulate while driving, and some of the switches on the steering wheel feel exceptionally inexpensive. 

Know-how bonanza

On that take note, I am not likely to further bludgeon a deceased equine, but as I have outlined a lot of moments before, I are inclined to uncover Toyota’s multimedia offerings to be unattractive and illogical, and that’s sad to say continue to accurate in the RAV4 Key XSE. But it’s not all negative information.

This infotainment system is at least fast, and the pill-model 9-inch monitor it’s splashed throughout is massive and simple to attain, as it’s mounted significant on the dashboard. Lower-end SE products feature an eight-incher. With all that show genuine estate, Apple CarPlay (which, together with Android Vehicle and Amazon Alexa compatibility will come regular) is tremendous simple to use, showing up wonderful and massive.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

The RAV4 Key presents a great deal of characteristics and amenities. 


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If you continue to require additional screens in your life, really don’t fret, because all Key products feature a reconfigurable seven-inch show nestled in the gauge cluster. It is clear and simple sufficient to cycle via the numerous menus for points like fuel economic climate and the vacation odometer. If that’s not sufficient, XSE products can even be equipped with a 10-inch shade head-up show, which jobs suitable driving knowledge onto the windshield. This item is bundled with the $3,765 quality package, which also receives you the aforementioned 6.6-kW charger, ventilated entrance seats and an great digital rearview mirror. The latter characteristics nevertheless another monitor at the rear of the glass in which a movie feed from the reversing digital camera is exhibited to offer a a lot broader field of view at the rear of the auto.

That package also incorporates a 360-degree digital camera system, which can be useful for certain parking situations — in idea at least. For some cause, this feature, and even the RAV4’s regular reversing digital camera, are appallingly negative, tremendous gritty and difficult to see on the infotainment monitor. This is notably weird because the digital rearview mirror, which is offered on XSE products, seems wonderful, supplying a clear, crisp image.

When it will come to sophisticated driver aids, Toyota Security Perception 2. is regular machines on the RAV4 Key, bringing points like computerized emergency braking and street-indicator recognition to the desk. Lane-maintaining assist is bundled, much too, and is effective very very well, even if it feels a little bit smooth-handed. It isn’t going to lock you into the middle of the lane very as strongly as competing programs do, resulting in additional wandering. You also get adaptive cruise manage, while it’s relatively middling. On the highway, it’s wonderful, seamlessly modifying auto pace to match encompassing autos, but in cease-and-go website traffic it can be very jerky.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

Like other users of the RAV4 spouse and children, the Key model is very handsome. 


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Dollars and (frequent) feeling

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is slated to start out arriving at dealerships in all fifty states later on this month. Preserving points basic, it will be offered in two trims: SE and XSE. My prime-shelf tester arrived equipped with all 3 offered selections offers, points that inflate its price tag to appropriate all over $forty nine,000 such as $1,120 in delivery service fees. That’s a steep price to pay back for what is a mainstream compact crossover SUV, having said that, that determine does not include any possible special discounts. The RAV4 Key may perhaps be suitable for up to $seven,five hundred in federal tax credits, moreover other special discounts offered by personal states. Of program, you can save a massive chunk of alter by receiving an SE model. They kick off appropriate all over $39,195. That’s continue to a little bit pricier than Ford’s entry-degree Escape plug-in hybrid, which commences at around 35 grand, but the RAV4 does have additional electrical power and a nicer inside, plus  Toyota enjoys a far better popularity for extended-expression quality and resale benefit.

Punchy and efficient, the Key is effortlessly my choose of modern RAV4 litter. The addition of a plug-in hybrid powertrain has produced a excellent SUV even far better. If you can take care of the upcharge, this is the RAV4 to get.