Efficiency doesn’t have to be slow, thats why the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is faster than any other RAV4 before it. With 302 horsepower and an unconfirmed 0-60 of 5.7 seconds, the prime makes a compelling case for hybrid technology. But just how does it compare to a gasoline-engined car? To find out just how much of a difference electrification makes, we put the Prime up against the 301 horsepower Toyota Camry TRD.
Powering the Camry is an old-school, naturally-aspirated 3.5 liter V6. Though electric power gives the RAV4 powertrain an edge at altitude, the Camry TRD weighs only 3,572 lbs. Thats roughly 700 pounds less than the plug-in RAV4. As a result, the surprisingly evenly matched Toyotas both post a claimed 0-60 time of just under 6 seconds.
On paper, the two are comparable in terms of performance. In the real world with a mile of elevation, though, they perform very differently. That said, thanks to its sport exhaust, the Camry TRD makes a noise that the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder RAV4 Prime simply cannot.
To bolster handling, the Camry is fitted with lower springs, tuned shocks and sway bars, chassis bracing, uprated brakes, and lighter wheels with more aggressive tires.
While Toyota claims the aero kit “improves high speed vehicle stability to aid in driver confidence,” the car is front wheel drive. As a result, confidence may be the rear wing’s primary effect on the driver.
However, for every blow the Camry deals in handling, the RAV4 responds with efficiency.
Though official ratings have not been released, Toyota claims the RAV4 Prime to achieve up to 94MPGe combined. The Prime may also drive as far as 42 miles on electric power alone.
Compared to the TRD Camry’s gas only MPG rating of 25 MPG combined, there is no comparison.
The TRD Camry starts at $32,125, and the RAV4 Prime at $39,220 (including destination). However, since it is a plug-in model, the Prime is eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500, which brings the two fairly close on final price.
The 2021 RAV4 Prime can be had in both SE and XSE trim levels. The SE trim comes with heated seats, a power liftgate, and an Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible 8.0-inch infotainment screen.
The XSE starts at $42,545 and offers a standard moonroof, larger 19-inch wheels, a larger 9-inch screen, and wireless charging. However, both models can be optioned with additional packages. The most expensive of which is the $5,760 “Weather with Audio and Premium Package.”
All Toyota RAV4s and Camrys come with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which includes a pre-collision system, radar cruise control, lane departure with steering assist, and more. The RAV4 Prime will make it to dealers in the summer of 2020.