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  • Writer's pictureMarc Gonzalez

Why Toyota RAV4 Prime is the Ultimate Plug-in Hybrid SUV

The Toyota RAV4 needs no introduction; it has established itself as North America's best-selling vehicle (excluding pick-up trucks) for the last three years. You see them everywhere since they're offered in 11 versions with three different powertrains, with the RAV4 Prime as the star of the lineup, with its potent powertrain on paper and excellent battery range in full EV mode. We got to try it out to see if this vehicle was worth all the hype; our test model had an MSRP of $63,926.50$ and was built at the Nagakusa, JPN plant.

Toyota RAV4 Prime
Photo by Vince P. Szigeti

The Toyota RAV4 lineup still looks fresh, even though everyone has seen them on the road for the past few years. It is one of the reasons why it's been a strong seller for the Japanese automaker since 2018. You can check out here our review from 2019 of the Toyota RAV4 hybrid. Styling-wise, the RAV4 Prime has certain specific characteristics that differentiate it from the rest of the lineup, such as an exclusive front grille with chrome accents, 19-inch alloy wheels and glossy plastic all over the vehicle's lower body. Overall, the popular compact SUV looked like a boxy SUV with smooth edges to soften the ensemble. You can see the sharp edges around the lighting units in front and back, while the alloy wheels bring out a more upscale and classy look. The design has a balanced personality and commonality, a massive upgrade over the previous generation.

Inside the RAV4 Prime, the interior is totally Toyota. The materials may not look the nicest at first glance, but durability is the name of the game for the Japanese automaker. Toyota has always taken a pragmatic approach to interior design, and the RAV4 is no different: many hard plastic surfaces are present throughout the cabin. Sitting behind the wheel, our test model was the XSE Technology package, which is equipped with the larger, fully digital 12.3-inch display with certain parts customizable but not all, unfortunately. For example, you cannot get a full-screen map, which isn't a huge turnoff, but we still wish it was available, at least on one side of the screen. Moving over to the center console and infotainment system is simple and efficient. The climate controls are large and super easy to manipulate; the same goes for the heated and ventilated seat controls. Moving up, you will find a 7-inch touchscreen with the latest Toyota Multimedia system. The good news is all RAV4 Prime are available with Wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The bad news is that the system is slow; it takes a few seconds to respond to a command. If your phone battery is running low, you will find many types of chargers to plug it in, and the Technology package also adds a wireless charger, albeit it's placed on a flat source, which isn't optimal placement.

As for the rest of the interior, starting with the seats, are cushy and offer good support. The interior room is quite decent within the category; in front and back, no one will feel cramped except for the fifth passenger sitting in the middle. The trunk also has good cargo space to bring the luggage with the family, and the battery doesn't use too much space. As for child seats, the RAV4 is equipped with ISOFIX ports, which aren't indicated, but there's a cut out for a parent to see them. On the other hand, the rear anchors are present, so that's good news.

Under the hood, the Toyota RAV4 Prime is the most powerful RAV4 by a longshot. It combines a 2.5L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and two electric motors (on the front and rear axle), which together develop 302 hp. This powertrain is tied in with an e-CVT, and the vehicle also has an 18.1-kWh battery, providing roughly 68 km of electric range. We achieved this figure without sweating too much; we spent almost the week (about 500 km) in EV mode. Another good news is that all Primes are AWD thanks to its twin-motor setup, which works as an electronic all-wheel drive rather than the conventional configuration on the gasoline-only RAV4. The vehicle is surprisingly fast for a compact model; it can get up to 100 kph in 5.7 seconds and has a powerful feeling in the pedal when needed, like highway ramps. We're not saying that it will knock your socks off like a Lamborghini; quite the contrary, the RAV4 Prime focuses more on comfort than performance. The suspension is cushy, and the handling is average in the segment; the steering isn't too soft or hard. Braking is also typical for a vehicle like this one, steady and predictable. Overall, after the initial impression of the acceleration, the RAV4 Prime operates like a RAV4, a means of transportation more than anything else, which is excellent.

2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime

The Toyota RAV4 Prime is a versatile vehicle that excels in multiple areas. It is practical, powerful and efficient thanks to a plug-in hybrid system that can move the vehicle on battery power alone for quite a while. Although it isn't perfect, Toyota could upgrade the materials inside the cabin for a car at over sixty thousand dollars; the RAV4 strikes a balance between electric and gasoline power. With a total driving range of 979 km and 68 km of EV range, it can be a day-to-day commuter and a road trip vehicle on the weekends!

Toyota has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Toyota Canada. The above reflects our personal opinion of the car referred to above.

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Mar 02

Can’t get the PHEV here in MN!


Jack Gonzalez
Jack Gonzalez
Dec 14, 2023

I own a 2021 Rav4 with gas engine with 96k kms and my wife a 2022 Rav4 Hybrid with 65k kms. Both have been great with very low maintenance and no problems at all. Both vehicles still ride like almost new.

Cannot ask for anything else


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