This SUV has the potential to rule the PHEV market single-handedly

Toyota is going rampant with the RAV4 lately. After launching the fifth-gen of the beloved crossover last year, the company launched the TRD Off-Road model, and now, it is being offered with a plug-in hybrid system. We’re talking about the RAV4 Prime, a fuel-efficient version of the crossover that can deliver a combined fuel economy of 90 MPGe. Surprisingly, it also happens to be the most powerful version of the RAV4 yet. Toyota sure knows how to keep a 25-year-old nameplate fresh and running.

The RAV4 Prime Is Toyota’s Second-Fastest Production Vehicle

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Is More Efficient Than Ever, Nearly As Fast as a Toyota Supra to 60 MPH
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Toyota is not averse to selling greener RAV4s. There is a RAV4 hybrid model in the lineup already. In fact, Toyota has made use of the same powertrain here as well.

The 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle gas engine receives an increase of 83 horses, thus taking the combined power output to 302 horses.

Thanks to this power bump, the 2021 RAV4 Prime gallops to 60 mph from a standstill in 5.8 seconds. This is a big leap over the RAV4 Hybrid that takes 7.8 seconds to do the same run.

Fun fact: the 2021 RAV4 Prime is the second quickest vehicle in the Toyota lineup now, trailing behind the 2020 Supra, which takes 4.1 seconds to dispatch the 0-60 mph sprint.

It Beats The RAV4 Hybrid By A Big Margin

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Power is sent to all four wheels via an electronic, on-demand, all-wheel-drive system - the same configuration found in the RAV4 Hybrid. The separate rear-mounted electric motor powers the rear wheels when needed, something that also helps in better stability. Power is sent proactively to the rear wheels during acceleration startup and also in reduced-traction conditions.

The 2021 RAV4 Prime can also run solely on electric power for up to 39 miles.

This happens to be the highest EV range on any plug-in-hybrid SUV currently available on the market. Despite the increased power and performance, the RAV4 Prime can deliver 90 miles per gallon equivalent, according to Toyota.

The SUV Comes With Many Firsts In The RAV4 Lineup

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Is More Efficient Than Ever, Nearly As Fast as a Toyota Supra to 60 MPH
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Toyota has upped the game big time to make the RAV4 an even more desirable product. The Japanese has plonked a bigger battery pack under the floor, but that doesn’t bite into the cargo space. It offers the same 37.6 cubic feet of cargo space as the RAV4 Hybrid, and the RAV4 Prime doesn’t look radically different from the fifth-generation RAV4. In top trim, it rides on 19-inch wheels and can be had in a dual-tone paint scheme that looks quite stunning. The RAV4 Prime will be available in SE and XSE trims. Given the difference in the feature list between the trims, you can expect a substantial price gap as well. The base SE trim comes with stuff like:

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Is More Efficient Than Ever, Nearly As Fast as a Toyota Supra to 60 MPH
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  • heated front seats
  • leather steering wheel
  • eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment
  • seven-inch multi-information display in the Instrument cluster
  • eight-inch infotainment system
  • supports Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa
  • Blind Spot Monitor
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Is More Efficient Than Ever, Nearly As Fast as a Toyota Supra to 60 MPH
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On the top-end XSE trim, Toyota will be offering features like:

  • 19-inch wheels
  • vertical LED DRLs
  • dual-tone exterior paint scheme
  • paddle shifters
  • moonroof
  • SofTex synthetic leather seat surfaces
  • wireless smartphone charging
  • ambient lighting
  • nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system

Final Thoughts

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Is More Efficient Than Ever, Nearly As Fast as a Toyota Supra to 60 MPH
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Toyota has not announced the prices yet, but we believe the Prime will start at around $35,000. In comparison, the RAV4 Hybrid currently starts at $28,100. The RAV4 Hybrid saw a jump of 72 percent in sales last year and is currently the best-selling hybrid vehicle in the U.S. Perhaps that is why the company decided to go ahead with the RAV4 Prime. However, unless there’s a huge price difference, I don’t see any reason to choose the Hybrid over the Prime.

Does this mean the RAV4 Hybrid will be phased out despite the huge spike in sales? We don’t think that’s a smart move, but we’ll have to wait until the RAV4 Prime goes on sale in the summer of 2020 to know for sure. What do you think about the 2021 RAV4 Prime? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
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