2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime arrives: 39 miles of electric range, sporty performance from crossover SUV

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The Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid unveiled Tuesday night ahead of 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 pound-feet to 168 pound-feet, compared to the RAV4 Hybrid. The difference between the RAV4 Prime and RAV4 Hybrid is new motor-generators, a booster converter, and a larger lithium-ion battery. Total output is up in the RAV4 Prime by 83 horses to an estimated 302 hp and will launch the RAV4 Prime from 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds, two seconds quicker than the 203-hp Hybrid.

Toyota said that the RAV4 Prime is 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, but Toyota didn\’t specify the size of the battery pack.

The RAV4 Prime can use optionally equipped navigation data to read topography and driving patterns to \”predict\” the most efficient way to use available charge for electric propulsion. 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 eight-way power-adjustable front seats; a 7.0-inch digital instrument panel display; an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility; blind-spot monitors; and a power liftgate. The SE gets 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 and transmission behavior, a sunroof, synthetic leather seats, wireless smartphone charging, ambient lighting, a 9.0-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 surround-view camera system.

All models get a full suite of active-safety features that includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, 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 in summer 2020.

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