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Toyota RAV4 charges up with an appealing hybrid offering
Prime is more rugged than cut
 
Published Friday, May 7, 2021
by Winfred Cross

PHOTO | TOYOTA
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime has lots of space.

Toyota’s RAV4 has come a long way since its two-door, tiny first iteration.


With each version Toyota made it into one of America’s favorite cute Utes.


The 2021 RAV4 gets a Prime version that is more rugged than cute, and far better on the environment with its plug-in hybrid offering.


With the Prime you can get a 6.6 kW charger that will recharge the prime in 2.5 hours, which us not bad. The range on a full charge is 42 miles which is twice as far as the Prius Prime. In a city the size of Charlotte that’s significant because you can get a lot done on a daily basis without using any gas. Of course, when you run out of charge the hybrid/gas engine takes over and you are still good to go.


If you are thinking you will be putting around in  an oh-so slow hybrid SUV, think again. The RAV4 prime has three engines – 177 horsepower gasoline, 179 hp (front wheels) 53 hp (rear wheels). The combined output is 302 hp which makes this one of the fastest small SUVs on the market. You can hit 60 miles per hour in about 5.7 seconds.


Going in a straight line makes the quickness wonderful. I just wish Toyota would have given this RAV4 better handling chops. There is body roll and torque steer if you are going to get aggressive. The steering is also a bit numb and doesn’t communicate well with road conditions.


But after a week with the Prime I’m guessing Toyota didn’t mean for this thing to be a racetrack star, at least not yet. No, this is a confidence inspiring everyday driver that rides exceptionally smoothly and quietly, giving you ample power to pass and carry five people in comfort without getting winded. If you are looking to pass – especially quickly – you can without hesitation. The RAV4 is more of a well-suited workhorse and not so much a thoroughbred derby winner. It knows it’s place.


The RAV4 Prime looks much like the other RAV4s, all of which were all-new in 2019. There is lots of space for passengers - five tall ones even. Somehow Toyota’s found a perfect height and door opening width that allows tall or short passengers to enter with little drama and for that I thank them.


The RAV4’s interior is nicely done. The dash has a clean, uncluttered design. Controls are big enough to grab and the really large touch screen is bright and responds quickly. It’s not angled towards the driver so it’s a little hard to reach. I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing since it’s easier to get distracted while driving if it’s easier to reach.
The seats are nice, covered in a ventilated fake leather with red accent stitching and trim. The front seats are heated and cooled while the rear seats are heated.
There are two Prime trims: SE and XSE. My test car was an XSE and was loaded to the gills.


Standard features include all wheel drive, adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, lane keeping assist (which is slightly over aggressive), two tone roof, paddle shifters, nine-inch touch screen, wireless charging pad and interior ambient lighting. You can empty your wallet for the premium package, and get a panoramic sunroof, hands-free lift gate, digital rear view mirror, adaptive headlights, head-up display, 120 volt outlet, driver seat memory and 360 degree camera.


The RAV4 Prime’s as-tested price pushed $48,000. It seems pricey but there is a $7,500 tax credit for buying a hybrid. Also, you can push 600 miles per tank when mixed with all electric driving, which is outstanding. For me, any RAV4 is a winner but this Prime model has really got my attention.


Pros:
• Lots of interior space


• Brisk acceleration


• 42-mile electric only range


• Excellent fit and finish


• Another great RAV4


Cons:
• Pricey


• Spongey brakes


Email Winfred Cross at: cross@alldaytech.com.

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