Like their distant relative, hybridized Prius hatchbackThe 2023 RAV4 Hybrid and RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid aim to deliver impressive fuel efficiency in the compact SUV segment. And they succeed. But their electrified powertrains have other benefits, including better performance. For one thing, both are quicker than the non-hybrid RAV4 — especially the Prime model, which surprisingly manages to overtake the Supra four-cylinder sports car up to 60 mph. It’s a shame that the RAV4 Hybrid’s handling isn’t as sharp as a sports car—quite the opposite, because its steady road manners are unlikely to please drivers who value athleticism in their daily commute. For those who want a little more driving involvement—remember, we’re talking mass-market SUVs here, not sports sedans—there’s Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucsonand Kia Sportage. All of them also offer hybrid models. Still, the RAV4 Hybrid is a good-looking, practical, and comfortable small crossover that doesn’t guzzle gas, which is more than enough to make the SUV-loving American feel good.
What’s new in 2023?
New rough Woodland Edition The RAV4 Hybrid joins the lineup for 2023. Along with all-terrain tires, the Woodland Edition features a TRD suspension kit, bronze-colored wheels, a roof rack, mudguards, black exterior badging, and a special set of all-season floor mats with the Woodland Edition logo. Exterior colors are limited to black, blue and white. All models now come with Toyota’s next-generation infotainment interface—a welcome upgrade over the previous one—which includes standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as over-the-air upgradeability.
Pricing and which one to buy
If you can claim $7500 tax credit for electric vehicles, the RAV4 Prime is a no-brainer, as government financial incentives lower its price significantly, and you get a RAV4 with more power and a significant electric-only range. Of the two models, the Prime XSE has more standard features, including 19-inch wheels, a sunroof, and an infotainment system with a large 10.5-inch display. If you don’t qualify for the tax credit, we recommend the XLE Hybrid, which offers more standard equipment than the base LE without a significant price increase. XLE buyers will enjoy amenities like passive keyless entry, a power driver’s seat, LED projector headlights with automatic high beam, heated exterior mirrors, blind spot monitoring and front fog lights.
Engine, transmission and performance
The RAV4 Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine assisted by two electric motors for a combined output of 219 horsepower. All-wheel drive is standard – one of the electric motors drives the rear wheels, while the other motor and petrol engine drive the front – as does a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The RAV4 Hybrid is not only more efficient than the non-electrified model, but also faster. He broke away from a Acceleration to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds in our hands, for now the gas-only model took 8.0 seconds for the same task. Drivers will feel that pep too, especially around town, where the electric motor’s delightfully instant power delivery gives it an extra boost when taking off from a standstill. If you want even more performance, the Prime model is happy to oblige. In our testing, The RAV4 Prime sprinted to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds. Like the standard RAV4, the Hybrid and Premier models handle competently and ride comfortably, but don’t expect cornering heroics here.
Range, charging and battery life
The RAV4 Prime Hybrid stores its electrons in an 18.1 kWh battery pack, and the EPA estimates it has an electric-only range of 42 miles. We managed 32 miles on electric power alone during our testing, but that was on the highway; we expect more driving range in the city. A 3.3kWh built-in charger is standard and a 6.6kWh charger is optional on the Prime XSE; this reduces charging time to just 2.5 hours from a 240 volt outlet. If only a 120-volt outlet is available, expect a charge time of around 12 hours.
Fuel economy and real mpg
Compared to the all-wheel drive RAV4, which runs on a gas engine, the hybrid model is much more efficient. It’ll get an EPA-estimated 41 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 40 mpg combined, beating the regular RAV4 by 14 mpg, 5 mpg, and 11 mpg, respectively. When we tested the RAV4 Hybrid on our 200-mile highway fuel economy route, it returned 37 mpg, 1 mpg less than the EPA rating. The Prime received an EPA combined rating of 94 MPGe, and it delivered 73 MPGe during our highway fuel economy test. For more information on the RAV4 Hybrid’s fuel economy, visit EPA website.
Interior, comfort and cargo
The RAV4 Hybrid’s interior is well built and nicely appointed, but practicality is prioritized over style. With plenty of bins and bins to choose from, you’ll have plenty of space to store small cargo, and all buttons and controls are easy to find and operate. Toyota adds plenty of niceties at the base level, such as dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and a height-adjustable cargo floor. Moving up the trim ladder, you get luxury features like heated front and rear seats, ambient interior lighting, and upgraded faux leather upholstery that Toyota calls SofTex. The RAV4 Hybrid offers the same cargo and passenger space as the regular RAV4, and in our testing we were able to fit 10 carry-ons behind the second row and 22 with the rear seats folded down.
Infotainment system and communication
LE and XLE models come with an 8.0-inch infotainment display that rises from the dash, while XSE, Limited and Prime XSE models have a 10.5-inch screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wireless integration and an on-board Wi-Fi hotspot are standard. Most models also come with a 7.0-inch digital display, but a larger 12.3-inch one comes on the Limited and Prime XSE trims and is optional on the XLE Premium. There is navigation and an 11-speaker JBL stereo system. Otherwise, you get a six-speaker system.
Safety features and driver assistance
Toyota was an aggressive adopter driver assistance functions and offers many of them as standard across the RAV4 lineup. For more information on the RAV4 Hybrid’s crash test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute of Road Safety (IIHS) websites. Key security features include:
- Standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane departure warning with assistance system
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and maintenance
All RAV4s come with a comprehensive warranty that matches that of competitors Honda and Nissan, but electrified models come with a long-term protection plan for their hybrid components. Toyota’s free scheduled maintenance policy is far from the norm, stretching over two years or 25,000 miles.
- The limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- The transmission is warranted for five years or 60,000 miles
- Hybrid components are warranted for eight years or 100,000 miles
- Free maintenance is covered for two years or 25,000 miles
2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE
front engine, four-wheel drive, 5-seater, 4-door station wagon
PRICE ACCORDING TO TESTING
$49,170 (base price: $42,545)
DOHC 16-valve 2.5-liter Atkinson inline-4, 177 hp, 165 lb-ft + 3 permanent magnet synchronous motors, front: 179 hp, 199 lb-ft; rear: 53 hp, 89 lb-ft; total power 302 hp; Lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 18.1 kWh
Suspension (F/R): Strut/Multilink
Brakes (Front/Right): 12.9-inch ventilated disc/12.4-inch ventilated disc
Tires: Yokohama Avid GT S35, 235/55R-19 101V M+S
Wheelbase: 105.9 inches
Length: 180.9 inches
Width: 73.0 inches
Height: 67.2 inches
Passenger volume: 99 feet3
Cargo volume: 33 feet3
Curb weight: 4,400 lbs
C/D EXAMINATION RESULTS
60 mph: 5.4 sec
100 mph: 14.0 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.6 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.7 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.4 sec
1/4 mile: 14.0 sec at 100 mph
Top speed (limited by governor): 117 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 195 feet
Road resistance, 300 feet in diameter: 0.75 g
Acceleration time in standing start mode will be omitted 1 foot deployment 0.3 sec.
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
75 mph highway, EV/Hybrid: 73 mpg/32 mpg
Highway range, EV/Hybrid mode: 32/460 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 38/36/40 mpg
Combined gasoline+electricity: 94 MPGe
EV range: 42 miles