REVIEW: The Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid is perfect for those who want an EV but can’t quite commit yet

2021 Toyota RAV4 XSE AWD_KL_3

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The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is what you get when you take the best-selling passenger car in the US, make it a plug-in hybrid, and give it great all-electric range. To those still waiting on the so-called EV revolution, I say it’s already here — here in the form of highly capable plug-in hybrids like the RAV4 Prime. 

I already know the regular RAV4 is a champion at almost everything it does, so it was unsurprising that when I made a list of cars I was most excited to drive this year, the RAV4 Prime was near the top. It was time to see if the 302-horsepower, plug-in hybrid version of an already great car would be any better.

Spoiler alert: It is.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Optimus Prime: Plug-in hybrids, roll out

The RAV4 is Toyota’s most popular vehicle in the US, with 448,071 sold last year alone. It was the fourth best-selling vehicle in the US overall behind the Ford F-Series, Ram Pickup, and the Chevrolet Silverado — all pickup trucks.

The RAV4 is not a pickup truck, but it’s not a small car, either. It’s a two-row, five-seater SUV that’s now in its boxy-faced fifth generation. Length comes to 15 feet, width comes to nearly 6.1 feet, and height comes to 5.6 feet. There are 8.3 inches of ground clearance.

Partway through the current RAV4’s life cycle, Toyota unveiled the RAV4 Prime — the plug-in hybrid version of the SUV — at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. 

To be clear, Toyota already had a hybrid RAV4, just not a plug-in one. The RAV4 Prime became the second plug-in hybrid offering from Toyota, following the Prius Prime.

Details and safety ratings: The most powerful RAV4 ever 

A plug-in hybrid is different from a conventional hybrid because, as its name suggests, you can plug it in and charge the battery that way. Conventional hybrids have much shorter EV-only ranges, if they offer any at all. A plug-in hybrid’s batteries tend to be bigger and EV-only range is greater, but this also makes them more expensive. 

The RAV4 Prime uses a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine that produces a claimed 177 horsepower. When combined with the electric motors, total system output comes to a claimed 302 horsepower. 

That means the RAV4 Prime is part of a growing camp of Toyota cars and crossovers with more than 300 horsepower, with Toyota proclaiming it the “most powerful RAV4 ever.” Others include the Toyota Camry TRD, Toyota Avalon XLE, and the six-cylinder Supra. 

The RAV4 Prime has something Toyota calls “Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive,” which involves a separate, rear-mounted electric motor powering the back wheels when necessary, such as during acceleration and in low-traction situations. 

Toyota quotes the RAV4 Prime’s EV-only driving range to be 42 miles, which is impressively high. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates it to return 94 mpge (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent) and 38 mpg in hybrid mode on city and highway combined driving.

Comparatively, the average car sold …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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