The Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid unveiled on Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show is both the most-powerful and most-efficient version of the brand’s compact crossover.
Called the RAV4 Prime, it uses the same Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine as the RAV4 Hybrid and it makes the same 176 horsepower though torque is up slightly from 163 to 168 pound-feet. The difference is new motor-generators, a booster converter, and a larger lithium-ion battery that up the total output by 83 horses to an estimated 302 hp that will launch the RAV4 Prime from 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds, 2 seconds quicker than the 202-hp Hybrid.
It’s the second-quickest Toyota behind the Supra.
One of the Prime’s three motors is an e-Axle at the rear that, like in the RAV4 Hybrid, gives this SUV all-wheel-drive capability. Toyota says the AWD system helps reduce understeer by sending the power to the outside rear wheel in turns. A Trail mode helps the RAV4 Prime brake a stuck or spinning wheel on the rear axle by sending the power to the wheel with traction.
2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime
The larger battery provides 39 miles of electric driving range and an estimated 90 MPGe EPA efficiency figure. The RAV4 Prime runs on regular fuel. Toyota hasn’t said how big the battery pack is.
The RAV4 Prime also has the RAV4 Hybrid’s Predictive Efficient Drive system that Toyota says acts like an invisible “hyper-miler” co-driver. It learns driver patterns and uses the navigation system to read the road ahead to optimize hybrid battery charging and discharging based on driving conditions. The system learns routes and remembers hills and lights to create a more-efficient driving experience.
Toyota will offer the RAV4 Prime in two sporty trim levels, SE and XSE. The SE will come standard with heated 8-way power-adjustable front seats; a 7-inch digital instrument panel display; an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility; blind-spot monitors; and a power liftgate. It’s exterior look will be defined 18-inch alloy wheels, an exclusive grille, a lower front spoiler, and piano black exterior trim.
2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime
The XSE’s look will feature a two-tone exterior paint scheme with a black roof, 19-inch wheels, and vertical LED accent lights. The XSE also features paddle shifters (a first for the RAV4) that allow drivers to increase regenerative braking, a sunroof, synthetic leather seats, wireless smartphone charging, ambient lighting, a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, and premium JBL speakers, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, memory for the driver’s seat, a hands-free power liftgate, and a 360-degree camera system.
All models get a full suite of active-safety features that includes forward-collision warnings with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, active lane control, road-sign recognition. An XSE Premium Package adds rear-cross traffic alerts with automatic braking, and front and rear park assist also with automatic braking.
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is scheduled to arrive in dealers next summer.