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2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Preview

FAST FACTS
  • New plug-in hybrid version of the Toyota RAV4
  • Offers about 39 miles of driving range
  • Earns a projected 90 MPGe rating from the EPA
  • Makes a combined total of 302 horsepower
  • Accelerates to 60 mph in a claimed 5.8 seconds
  • Goes on sale in the summer of 2020

Introduction

A new plug-in hybrid version of the RAV4, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime blends power and performance with efficiency and utility. The result might just be the best RAV4 ever made.

Based on existing RAV4 Hybrid, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that can travel about 39 miles purely on electricity before it switches to gas-electric hybrid operation. Total driving range amounts to hundreds of miles before you must find gas or an electrical outlet.

2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime Supersonic front view in red

Available in sporty SE and XSE trim levels, the powerful RAV4 Prime is styled and tuned for on-pavement performance. It goes on sale in the summer of 2020, and while Toyota will release pricing closer to its arrival in dealer showrooms, the RAV4 Prime is likely to cost about $40,000 before adding options or applying federal, state, and local incentives.

Exterior Features

Minor design details differentiate the RAV4 Prime from other versions of the SUV. The grille design, front spoiler, and gloss-black exterior accents are unique to the Prime, and the SE trim includes 18-inch machined-surface aluminum wheels. A power rear liftgate is also standard, and Supersonic Red is a new paint color for the 2021 RAV4.

Interior Features

Standard interior equipment includes an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob get red stitching, too.

Optional Features

A Weather & Moonroof Package is available for the RAV4 Prime SE, adding rain-sensing wipers, a wiper de-icer system, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and a power sunroof.

Upgrade to XSE trim, and the RAV4 Prime wears 19-inch two-tone alloy wheels, two-tone exterior paint featuring a black roof, and vertical front LED accent lights. Inside, the XSE includes ambient lighting, simulated leather upholstery, a new 9-inch infotainment system touchscreen display, and a power sunroof. Wireless smartphone charging is also standard with XSE trim, along with an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a garage door opener.

A Premium Package is available for the RAV4 Prime XSE. It includes Weather & Moonroof Package contents, along with a JBL premium sound system, embedded navigation, a head-up display, and a panoramic glass roof. Ventilated front seats help keep the driver and front passenger cool on summer days, and this package also includes memory for the driver’s settings, a 4-way power front passenger’s seat, and passive keyless entry for all doors.

The list of Premium Package contents also includes a hands-free power liftgate, a digital rearview mirror, a 360-degree surround-view camera system, front and rear parking sensors with automatic braking, and rear cross-traffic automatic braking.

Power and Performance

With a combined horsepower rating of 302 ponies, this is the most powerful version of the RAV4 ever built. Toyota says it accelerates to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, half a second quicker than the third-generation RAV4 with its optional V6 engine.

Toyota also says this is the most efficient RAV4 ever. Pure electric driving range is about 39 miles, and Toyota projects a total efficiency rating of 90 MPGe. Once the battery reaches its minimum state of charge and the RAV4 Prime operates as a gas-electric hybrid, expect it to get nearly 40 mpg in combined driving.

Based on the RAV4 Hybrid, the RAV4 Prime uses the same 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine, but equips this version of the SUV with more powerful electric motor-generators, a high-capacity lithium-ion battery mounted under the floor, and an enhanced heat-pump climate control system to help conserve electric driving range. Note that the battery has a 10-year, 150,000-mile warranty.

The RAV4 Prime features the same on-demand all-wheel-drive system found in the RAV4 Hybrid. It uses a rear electric motor to power the back wheels, and a driver-activated Trail mode tells the system to send power to the wheels with the best traction.

Both RAV4 Prime trim levels include a sport-tuned suspension for athletic handling. The XSE trim includes paddle shifters that adjust the amount of regenerative braking. The more aggressive the setting, the more kinetic energy the RAV4 Prime captures when coasting, converting it into electricity and feeding it back into the battery.

Safety

Every 2021 RAV4 Prime includes Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0), a collection of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). These include forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, lane-centering assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and traffic sign recognition. In addition to TSS 2.0, Toyota equips the RAV4 Prime with blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning.

Available safety features include front and rear parking sensors with automatic braking, rear cross-traffic automatic braking, and an adaptive front lighting system that adjusts the headlights to help the driver to see around dark corners.

Technology

Choose the RAV4 Prime SE and your new plug-in hybrid SUV will have an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa integrations. The XSE trim adopts a new, larger 9-inch touchscreen display that can be paired with an available JBL premium sound system and an embedded navigation system.

With navigation, the RAV4 Prime features Predictive Efficient Drive. It uses navigation system data to optimize the powertrain for maximum efficiency along the planned driving route.

The RAV4 Prime also debuts a new head-up display, representing the first time Toyota offers this technology in Toyota’s popular compact SUV. It's included in the XSE Premium Package, along with a digital rearview mirror. Using a live video feed to show what’s behind the SUV, the digital rearview mirror offers numerous adjustments to help improve the view to the back of the vehicle.

Toyota is the source of the information in this article. It was accurate as of February 22, 2020, but may have changed since that date.