The best-selling Toyota RAV4 just got a new upgrade, one that may be the best combination of AWD, EV-range, crossover versatility, and, believe it, speed! We’re talking about the limited edition 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid with 42 miles of pure electric vehicle range. After using up the 18 KwH battery, the car’s 2.5-liter, 4-cyl. engine kicks in and runs in hybrid mode.
In our video, Tommy takes the Prime on a 71.3-mile jaunt through town, the highway, and up to 9,000-plus feet in elevation and back to see how efficient this drivetrain truly is. He starts with a full tank of gas and the battery at 95 percent charged. The Toyota’s trip meter says that charge is good for 30 miles of all-electric range. That’s a lot less than the car’s advertised 42-mile range, and leaves us scratching our heads as to whether or not that remaining 5 percent battery charge really adds 12 miles of the vehicle’s range. So let’s find out.
Yep. The RAV4 Prime is primetime
Between the EV motors, one intertwined with the gas engine up front and another to drive the rear wheels for AWD when necessary, this Prime is quick. And it should be with a 302 horsepower rating. Toyota claims a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds, which is VW GTI -fast. The steering is satisfyingly heavy, and Tommy calls this easily the best driving RAV4 ever.
On the mileage loop, the Prime finally runs out of battery after 31 miles as the road starts to climb high into the Rocky Mountains. By the time he reaches the gas station back in town to refuel, the regen system on the Toyota has added back 5 miles of EV range thanks to the long downhill. In all, the car only needed 0.82 gallons of fuel to top it off again. That works out to a better than 86 mpg. Granted, Tommy started with a nearly full battery, but as an everyday driver, where an owner will be recharging the battery every night, it’s possible that trips to the pump will go from weekly to monthly or beyond, and total MPG between fill-ups will be off the charts.
The Bad: The RAV4 Prime is sold out!
Yep, Toyota only sent the U.S. 5,000 of these remarkable RAV4’s, and they were quickly snatched up even though they come with a base price of just under $40,000. That’s a lot of money for what still looks like a budget AWD crossover. But it’s still much, much cheaper than a new Tesla Model Y.