The Green Living Guy

The Most Powerful and Quickest RAV4 Ever

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. I test drove a hybrid RAV4 and also drive the electric RAV4 electric of old when working for the NY Power Authority.

However, the arrival of the first-ever RAV4 TRD Off-Road model was announced earlier this year. Then at the Los Angeles Auto Show Toyota debuts the new premium, fun-to-drive RAV4 performance model aka 302 hp.  It’s ok, well get back to that!

Head on view of RAV4 plug-in hybrid

Consequently, 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. Seems to be the second quickest acceleration time in the Toyota lineup. This one drives an estimated 39 miles on battery alone on a single charge. Then you get the hybrid. However that’s pretty hefty EV range for a PHEV SUV on the market.

So the RAV4 Prime also has a manufacturer-estimated 90 combined MPGe. We shall see when I test drive it.

Logo to RAV4 plug-in hybrid

The Toyota RAV4 Prime, a 2021 model that will arrive in summer 2020. It also breaks ground as the most powerful and quickest RAV4 ever. All the while also being the most fuel-efficient.

The Toyota RAV4 Prime builds on the RAV4 Hybrid. All which is currently the most powerful and most fuel-efficient RAV4 model in the line. That’s 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. Thereby reflecting Toyota’s 20+ years of hybrid vehicle leadership.

So with more powerful motor-generators and a newly developed high-capacity Lithium-Ion battery with a booster converter. Because the 2021 RAV4 Prime yields an 83-horsepower (hp) jump in total system output. That’s over the RAV4 Hybrid and has the most horsepower in its segment.

Therefore, 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.

Side shot while driving the Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid

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. Also, Piano black exterior accents and a painted grille/diffuser to complete the premium look.

The SE’s equipment is quite comprehensive, with standard heated front seats. In addition an 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment. Then you get the 7-in. Multi-Information Display, Blind Spot Monitor and a leather steering wheel and shift knob with red stitching. Coupled with a power liftgate and Audio with 8-in. touch-screen. That’s including 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. Then  heated rear outboard seats and windshield wiper de-icers. Finally and while rain-sensing windshield wipers add to convenience.

Exterior to fuel-efficient RAV4 plug-in hybrid

As on the current RAV4 Hybrid XSE, the Prime version of this grade stands apart with a two-tone exterior paint scheme. Then also pairing a black roof with select colors. Even including the striking new- to-RAV4 Supersonic Red. In addition, it’s exclusive 19-in. alloy wheels. These are 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.

RAV4 plug-in hybrid

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 fuel-efficient RAV4 Prime’s passenger space isn’t full of lithium-Ion batteries. Because it is mounted under the floor. The mounting position of electric vehicle batteries always gives the fuel-efficient RAV4 Prime a low center of gravity. Therefore and further enhancing driver stability.

The RAV4 Prime’s enhanced heat pump HVAC system is based on Prius Prime’s. It’s also tailored to fit the fuel-efficient RAV4 Prime. Most interestingly, it contributes to an increasing EV range. That also as energy consumption for cabin temperature control significantly decreases EV driving range.

Electrified Traction

The fuel-efficient RAV4 Prime is the same Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive (AWD) from as its Hybrid counterpart. In both models, a separate rear-mounted electric motor powers the rear wheels when needed. That’s  including proactively on acceleration startup. Especially 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 fuel-efficient 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. For example and such as hills and stoplights. Thereby adjusting the hybrid powertrain operation to maximize efficiency.

All Toyota RAV4 models come equipped with standard Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0). All which groups a long roster of active-safety technologies and capabilities:

The XSE Premium Package adds Rear Cross Traffic Braking (RCTB) and Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automated Braking (PA w/AB).

Finally and starting with the 2020 model year, every Toyota Hybrid Battery Warranty has been increased. Originally was 8 years or 100,000 miles to 10 years from original date of first use is now 150,000 miles. Therefore whichever comes first.

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