Toyota has been applying a “Prime” moniker to its Toyota Prius for a few years now. That plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the Prius has a slightly higher price and a somewhat bigger battery that enables 25 miles of electric driving before the engine comes to life. It’s sensible — if you can plug it in and recharge it nightly — but that’s about all. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime shares that nondescript suffix, and perhaps unfortunately so. This is a much more interesting and more compelling plug-in hybrid than the Prius Prime.
The reason why boils down to two points. The Toyota RAV4 Prime ‘s battery is significantly bigger, and that gives this small SUV an estimated all-electric range of 42 miles. That’s a truly useful number that will cover most daily commutes — especially when you know you can safely run it to zero and let the gasoline engine seamlessly keep the party moving. On top of that, the RAV4 Prime has bigger electric motors that make it significantly quicker than any other RAV4. Or just about any other small SUV for that matter.
Even with 302 horsepower, the RAV4 Prime isn’t particularly fun to drive.