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  • 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Winds Up in the Windy City - Chicago Auto Show

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Winds Up in the Windy City - Chicago Auto Show

39 Miles of Range and Seriously Quick Performance

Feb 13, 2020

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid crossover first seen at the Los Angeles Auto Show, made another public appearance at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show. But unlike many eco-minded vehicles, the Toyota RAV4 Prime will boast a strong performance roster in addition to its estimated 39 miles of electric-only range when fully charged.

Thanks to 302 combined hp, the RAV4 Prime sprints to 60 mph in a projected 5.8 seconds, a stellar number for a small crossover. If Toyota's guess is correct, the RAV4 Prime will outsprint the company's entire lineup save the mighty and legendary Supra sports car. The RAV4 Prime will also keep up with a Range Rover Sport P400 and outsprint the mild-hybrid Range Rover Sport P360. Think on that for a sec—pulling up next to a $70,000 sporty SUV in your plug-in hybrid RAV4 and dusting the other guy in a whir of instant electric torque.

Photo 2/11   |   2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime Exterior Side Profile
 

Toyota RAV4 Prime: Newest Member of the Family

By the looks of it, "Prime" is now Toyota-speak for plug-in hybrid. First introduced on a variant of the Prius, the Prime nameplate has now been attached to the 2021 RAV4. The RAV4 Prime uses a larger lithium-ion battery than what would be found in the related RAV4 Hybrid, but somewhat miraculously, it doesn't encroach on interior room.

Toyota hasn't yet copped specifics on the Prime's battery specs, except to say it has an electric-only range of 39 miles. The 8.8-kWh battery in the Prius Prime enables a range of 25 miles, so we'd expect the RAV4 to boast a larger energy source, particularly since it's probably larger and heavier than the Prius. Expect a charging time of about 3 hours using a 240V outlet for the Toyota RAV4 Prime.

Photo 3/11   |   2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime Exterior Rear Quarter 02

Hybrid Hustle

It's truly amazing that a RAV4 variant will be the second-quickest vehicle in Toyota's stable. With 83 additional horses relative to the RAV4 Hybrid, the Prime has the most power in its admittedly limited plug-in hybrid small SUV segment. But regardless of its competition, the Prime's 302 hp are nothing to sneeze at.

The Toyota RAV4 Prime gets motive force from an Atkinson-cycle 2.5L I-4 (similar to the one found in the non-pluggable RAV4 Hybrid), boasting 176 hp and 168 lb-ft. The gas engine is paired to three electric motors—two on the front axle and one on the rear, and the total system output is impressive. Paddle selectors on the steering wheel turn up or down the regenerative braking function, putting the driver in control and helping recuperate energy or provide reduced-resistance coasting.

Photo 4/11   |   2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime Exterior Front Quarter 01

That rear-mounted electric motor provides through-the-road all-wheel drive—the gas engine isn't connected to the rear wheels at all. The motor will provide some torque vectoring, improving handling, and a "Trail" drive mode helps route torque from slipping wheels to ones that have purchase on the road surface.

Sporty Styling to Back Up Acceleration

Perhaps to blunt the inherently higher cost of plug-in vehicles, the Toyota RAV4 Prime will come only in SE and XSE trim levels, representing two of the company's sportiest means of expressing itself. Aggressively styled 18-inch wheels, piano black exterior accents, and an exclusive front fascia set the "base" Prime SE apart from other RAV4s. Heated front seats, an 8-inch touchscreen, a power liftgate, blind spot monitoring, and more come standard.

The XSE goes even further, with available two-tone styling courtesy of a black roof panel—which we think looks a bit tacky. Alloy wheels measure 19 inches, while a unique front fascia with vertical LED accent lights add even more aggression. SofTex synthetic leather seats, a 9-inch touchscreen, and a moonroof come standard.

Photo 5/11   |   2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime Interior Dashboard
Photo 6/11   |   2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime Interior Instrument Cluster
Photo 7/11   |   2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime Interior Rear Seats

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 comes on every RAV4, including the Prime. Forward collision monitoring with pedestrian detection, automated emergency braking, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beams, and lane centering come bundled with TSS 2.0.

How Much Will It Cost

Pricing hasn't been determined yet, but we expect a premium of at least $3,000 relative to a comparable RAV4 Hybrid. That means a 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE could start at $37,000, rising to $40,000 when loaded down with all available features. An SE trim isn't currently available on the RAV4 Hybrid, but we predict it should start at $34,000 or so.

The Toyota RAV4 Prime arrives at dealers this summer, and we can honestly say it's the first time we've ever looked forward to driving a Toyota hybrid aggressively.

Photo 8/11   |   2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime Exterior Front Quarter 02

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