AutoMatters & More: 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid trounces the competition
Several years into the future, when solid state batteries for cars can be produced economically and in very large scale, driving ranges that are literally 10 times that of the best current electric vehicles will likely relegate gas-powered vehicles to history, making them extinct like the dinosaurs that their fuel comes from.
Today, however, the new 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime decisively beats all competitors, thanks to its exceptional, uncompromising combination of ample electric range, generous cargo capacity, comprehensive active and passive safety features, standard all-wheel-drive high performance, economical operation, a wide range of standard and available comfort and convenience features, bold good looks, affordability and, of course, legendary Toyota quality control.
This is Toyota’s first-ever plug-in hybrid RAV4. It can be plugged in and charged to run on electricity alone (EV Priority Mode) for up to 42 miles (EPA-estimated 94 MPGe) on potentially clean, low-cost electricity; and it can also be driven for long distances in Hybrid Mode on a combination of electricity and quickly refilled gas, avoiding EV range anxiety and the necessity that EVs must make long stops – and potentially wait in line – to recharge. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 40/36/38 MPG (city/highway/combined) using 87-octane gas. With EV and HV capabilities combined, the estimated total range is an impressive 600 miles!
Not only is the 2021 RAV4 Prime the most fuel-efficient RAV4, but with 302 combined net hp, it is also the most powerful RAV4 ever, and the second quickest vehicle that Toyota makes. Only the mighty Supra accelerates more quickly. Foot-to-the-floor acceleration is quick (0-60 in 5.7 seconds), truly providing “a superior performance-oriented driving experience.” According to Toyota, “a recent Consumer research project showed the RAV4 Prime outperformed the Porsche Macan in key categories including: Acceleration, Engine Sound and Pedal Feel.” The ride is firm but not harsh, and the cornering inspires confidence.
For light off-road use there are over eight inches of ground clearance. In Trail Mode, torque is automatically distributed to the tires and wheels to prioritize vehicle stability and traction.
Since electric range decreases when driving at high speeds, you can “save” the electricity for when you are driving more slowly. RAV4 Prime can also recharge itself to 80% capacity, using its gas engine.
Unlike older generations of plug-in hybrid SUVs, whose cargo area was substantially reduced by a large, under-the-floor battery, the RAV4 Prime’s 18.1 kWh Lithium-ion battery is located forward and low, under the seats – without compromising the passenger volume. That frees up the no-compromises cargo compartment for up to 63 cu. ft. of space with the second row of seats folded (33 cu. ft. with the seats up), and an under-floor temporary spare tire. Major shopping trips can be tackled with confidence.
Active and passive safety are a high priority in the RAV4 Prime. The standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite includes Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, to help keep you in your lane; Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian and Bicyclist Detection, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Hill Start Assist Control, Trailer Sway Control, Traction Control and Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control.
Optionally available features include a Bird’s Eye View camera with curb view; Stolen Vehicle Locator and Automatic Collision Notification (by subscription, after the one-year free trial); Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automated Braking, windshield wipers with a de-icer function, adaptive front LED projector headlights, and an exceptionally convenient Color Head-Up Display that works in conjunction with the navigation system to help you keep your eyes on the road.
Inside the quiet interior, the long list of standard or available comfort and convenience features continues, including a tilting and sliding Panoramic moonroof that spans the optionally heated and ventilated front seats, and heated outboard rear seats – the backrests of which can be independently adjusted to either of two positions, for comfort; foot-activated power liftgate, Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging, 120V/1500 W AC power outlet in the cargo area, 11-speaker JBL Premium Audio with subwoofer and amplifier, nine-inch multimedia touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Starting MSRP for the 2021 RAV4 Prime SE is $38,100. The XSE starts at $41,425. Government incentives, including rebates, may be available. Visit https://cleanvehiclerebate.org/eng and https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxevb.shtml
To learn more, visit: https://www.toyota.com
To see additional photos, visit www.drivetribe.com, click on the magnifying glass, select “POSTS” and enter “AutoMatters & More #651” in their search bar. Please send your comments to AutoMatters@gmail.com.
Copyright © 2020 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #651
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