Toyota's RAV4 Prime is the plug-in hybrid you want
2022 is shaping up to be the year of the electric SUV, with Toyota, Subaru, Chevrolet and many other automakers announcing new all-electric offerings. The new vehicles are exciting, but for many buyers a plug-in hybrid can offer the best of both worlds.
The RAV4 Prime has only been around for one model year, but this version of Toyota's popular compact SUV is worth your attention. As a plug-in hybrid, the RAV4 Prime can drive up to 42 miles on electric power before kicking in its gasoline engine. For most people, that's plenty of range to cover the drive to work, errands, and home again every day. With the RAV4 Prime, a normal driver might only use gasoline on long-distance trips.
Figuring out the horsepower and torque ratings on this vehicle is a little complicated. The gasoline engine puts in 165 pound-feet of torque, along with 199 pound-feet from the front-mounted electric motor, and then 89 pound-feet from the electric motor that drives the rear wheels. So the amount of torque varies depending on what driveline parts are active at any given time. The same is true with the horsepower, though Toyota states that the RAV4 Prime has 302 combined system horsepower, which is a pretty bold figure for this class of SUV.
But from a practical perspective, what the driver cares about is whether the vehicle feels underpowered. The RAV4 Prime has plenty of power. Toyota estimates the 0-60 acceleration time at 5.7 seconds, and independent testers have done even better. For comparison, a Ferrari 308 from the 1980s (think Magnum PI) takes 6.5 seconds to hit 60 MPH. What you need to know is that the RAV4 Prime feels like it has a much larger engine than it really has.
Inside, the RAV4 Prime has all the same stuff that has made the basic RAV4 one of the best-selling SUVs of all time. It's comfortable, and as a premium model the Prime offers all the best upholstery, technology, and everything. You can get the Prime with the more basic SE trim, but upgrading to XSE is just a few thousand dollars, about 10% of the total purchase price.
If you've got a thrifty frame of mind, just remember that you'll be saving quite a bit in gasoline costs. The RAV4 Prime is rated at 40 MPG in city driving and 36 MPG on the highway, but that's when you're running the gasoline engine. Most Portlanders won't burn a drop most of the time.
You won't sacrifice utility with the RAV4 Prime. You'll still get 63.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the back seats folded down, or 33.4 cubic feet with the rear seats in use. So you can take four people to the airport with all their luggage, or have enough space to bring an appliance home from the home supply store. The RAV4 Prime will also tow up to 2,500 pounds, so you can still pull that camping trailer, boat, or your outdoor toys. With the electric AWD system, you can go anywhere a conventional RAV4 can go.
Best of all, the RAV4 Prime is fun to drive. You'll enjoy the acceleration, driving by the gas station, and the overall high quality of the Toyota vehicle. If you're feeling like it's time to make the switch to electric, the RAV4 Prime is a great way to make the shift without worrying what happens if you need to drive to Seattle.
2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE
Base price: $39,800
Price as tested: $44,340
Type: Compact crossover SUV
Engine: 2.5-liter plug-in hybrid (302 hp, 199 lbs-ft)
Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission
EPA estimated mileage: 40/36
Overall length: 180.9 inches
Curb weight: 4,300 pounds
Final assembly: Georgetown, Kentucky
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