LOS ANGELES (Nov. 20, 2019) – The fifth-generation Toyota RAV4, on the market for barely a year, is going more places than it has ever gone before. The arrival of the first-ever RAV4 TRD Off-Road model was announced earlier this year, and today, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota debuts a new premium, fun-to-drive RAV4 performance model with an estimated 302-horsepower, advanced all-wheel drive, sport-tuned suspension and exclusive design features.
It just happens to also be the first-ever RAV4 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). And so, in addition to an ability to do 0-60 mph in a projected 5.8 seconds, which is the second quickest acceleration time in the Toyota lineup, it can drive an estimated 39 miles on battery alone on a single charge, which is the highest EV range of any PHEV SUV on the market. The RAV4 Prime also has a manufacturer-estimated 90 combined MPGe. Welcome to a new chapter of Toyota SUV performance.
The Toyota RAV4 Prime, a 2021 model that will arrive in summer 2020, breaks ground as the most powerful and quickest RAV4 ever while also being the most fuel-efficient.
The 2021 RAV4 Prime will be available in SE and XSE grades, both emphasizing athletic on-road performance and premium comfort and style. With its plug-in hybrid technology advancing, Toyota sees such vehicles as critical to an overall electrification strategy that will also include standard hybrids and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), along with fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) like the second-generation Mirai unveiled in October.
The Toyota RAV4 Prime builds on the RAV4 Hybrid, which is currently the most powerful and most fuel-efficient model in the line with sales up 72% over last year and currently the best-selling hybrid vehicle on the market. The RAV4 Prime amplifies both performance and efficiency, reflecting Toyota’s 20+ years of hybrid vehicle leadership.
With more powerful motor-generators, a newly developed high-capacity Lithium-Ion battery and a booster converter, the 2021 RAV4 Prime yields an 83-horsepower (hp) jump in total system output over the RAV4 Hybrid and has the most horsepower in its segment. The resulting boost in performance is striking: Toyota projects 0-60 mph acceleration in 5.8 seconds which is quicker than the RAV4 Hybrid (7.8 sec.) and in a league with luxury/performance SUVs that come nowhere near this Toyota’s remarkable fuel economy. And, notably, the RAV4 Prime uses regular-grade gasoline — just not much of it.
A comparison with an older RAV4 offers a vivid illustration of the march of technology. The 2006-2012 RAV4 offered an optional 269-hp, 3.5-liter gas V6 engine that reached 0-60 mph in 6.3-seconds, which is a half-second slower than the RAV4 Prime. And, that model’s 21 combined MPG fuel economy rating simply pales in comparison.
Sporty and Sportier
Toyota engineered the 2021 RAV4 Prime for the performance-oriented driver and is therefore offering it in the sporty SE and XSE grades. The SE grade is new for the RAV4 Prime, and the XSE is currently exclusive to the RAV4 Hybrid. The SE flaunts its sporty attitude with 18-in. painted and machined alloy wheels and an exclusive front grille design and front lower spoiler. Piano black exterior accents and a painted grille/diffuser complete the premium look.
The SE’s equipment is quite comprehensive, with standard heated front seats, 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment, 7-in. Multi-Information Display, Blind Spot Monitor, a leather steering wheel and shift knob with red stitching, power liftgate, and Audio with 8-in. touch-screen and Amazon Alexa, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The available Weather & Moonroof Package lets in the sun, moon and stars while keeping the cold at bay with a heated steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, and windshield wiper de-icer, while rain-sensing windshield wipers add to convenience.
As on the current RAV4 Hybrid XSE, the Prime version of this grade stands apart with a two-tone exterior paint scheme pairing a black roof with select colors, including the striking new-to-RAV4 Supersonic Red. Exclusive 19-in. alloy wheels, the largest ever offered on a hybrid RAV4, have a unique two-tone design. Vertical LED accent lights give the XSE a distinct look, while the optional Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS) with headlamp auto-leveling partially aims the beams into turns as the driver steers.
Inside, XSE steps up the sport, luxury and tech with RAV4’s first-ever paddle shifters, along with moonroof, unique SofTex synthetic leather seat surfaces, wireless smartphone charging, ambient lighting, auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated garage door opener and the largest multimedia screen in any RAV4 ever. The standard Audio Plus system comes with a 9-in. touch-screen and there is an available Premium Audio that includes Dynamic Navigation and JBL speaker system.
An available Premium Package pushes the RAV4 Prime XSE further with Premium Audio with Dynamic Navigation and JBL speakers, perforated and ventilated SofTex front seats, RAV4’s first head-up display, heated rear SofTex outboard seats, heated steering wheel, panoramic moonroof, digital rear-view mirror, memory driver’s seat, 4-way power passenger seat, 5-door SmartKey system, kick-type power rear liftgate, Bird’s Eye View Monitor and yes, more.
How Does It Do That?
Toyota hybrids have for years demonstrated high performance with low fuel consumption, and now the 2021 RAV4 Prime makes one of the strongest cases yet. The RAV4 Prime uses a differently tuned version of the RAV4 Hybrid’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle gas engine. It produces the same projected 176 hp as in the hybrid, but paired with the electric motors, total system output equals 302 horsepower.
The RAV4 Prime’s passenger space isn’t compromised by the larger Lithium-Ion battery, as it is mounted under the floor. The mounting position also gives the RAV4 Prime a low center of gravity and enhanced driving stability.
The RAV4 Prime’s enhanced heat pump HVAC system, based on Prius Prime’s and tailored to fit RAV4 Prime, contributes to an increasing EV range, as energy consumption for cabin temperature control can significantly decrease EV driving range.
The RAV4 Prime employs the same version of Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive (AWD) as the RAV4 Hybrid. In both models, a separate rear-mounted electric motor powers the rear wheels when needed, including proactively on acceleration startup and also in reduced-traction conditions.
The AWD system also reduces understeer during cornering for enhanced steering stability. Off-pavement, AWD enhances hill-climbing performance. A driver-selectable Trail mode makes it possible to get unstuck by braking a spinning wheel and sending torque to the grounding wheel.
With available paddle shifters, the driver can “downshift” to increase the regenerative braking in steps, which fosters greater control when driving in hilly areas, for example.
As on the RAV4 Hybrid, the innovative Predictive Efficient Drive feature acts like an invisible “hyper-miler” co-driver. Using the available navigation system, Predictive Efficient Drive essentially reads the road and learns driver patterns to optimize hybrid battery charging and discharging operations based on driving conditions. The system accumulates data as the vehicle is driven and “remembers” road features such as hills and stoplights and adjusts the hybrid powertrain operation to maximize efficiency.
All Toyota RAV4 models come equipped with standard Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0), which groups a long roster of active-safety technologies and capabilities:
- Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD)
- Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
- Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA)
- Automatic High Beam (AHB)
- Lane Tracing Assist (LTA)
- Road Sign Assist (RSA)
The XSE Premium Package adds Rear Cross Traffic Braking (RCTB) and Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automated Braking (PA w/AB).
Starting with the 2020 model year, every Toyota Hybrid Battery Warranty has been increased from 8 years or 100,000 miles to 10 years from original date of first use, or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Rod is a blogger, writer, filmmaker, photographer, daydreamer who likes to cook. Rod produces and directs the web series, CUPIC: Diary of an Investigator. He is also the editor, producer and administrator of TNC Network.