The current fifth-generation that debuted three years ago is available for the 2021 model year in a wide range of models with various levels of equipment, FWD or AWD drivetrains, and four powertrain options.
If you’re among potential customers who are considering a new RAV4 with an efficient, eco-friendly hybrid powertrain, you can choose between the plug-in Prime or the self-charging Hybrid models. However, deciding which one is best for you depends on several factors.
They’re both aided by electric motors, but the Hybrid’s are less powerful and get their power from a small 1.6 kWh Ni-MH battery for a combined system output of 219 hp.
On the Prime, the more powerful motors are supplied with electric energy by a bigger 18.1 kWh Li-ion battery, resulting in a total output of 302 hp. This figure makes the Prime the most powerful RAV4 ever.
Fuel efficiency and pure electric driving rangeSince we’re talking about hybrids, both models are highly fuel-efficient. The Hybrid achieves 40 MPG (5.9 liters per 100 km) combined, according to the manufacturer.
The Prime takes it up a notch with 38 MPG (6.2 liters per 100 km) combined and can also be driven for up to 42 miles (67.5 km) on pure electric power, a feat that cannot be accomplished by the Hybrid.
According to Toyota, the Prime takes about 4.5 hours to recharge using a 3.3kW 240V Level 2 charger, or 12 hours using the included 3.3kW, 120V Level 1 charging cable.
Hybrid owners never have to worry about recharging since the small battery can be easily recharged using the motors' and braking system’s energy recuperation capabilities.
Towing Capacity and Cargo Space
However, because it has a much smaller battery, the latter offers slightly more cargo space. The maximum trunk capacity is rated at 37.6 cubic feet (1,065 liters) compared to the Prime’s 33.5 cubic feet (949 liters).
When the second row is folded, the cargo space increases to 69.8 cubic feet (1,976 liters) and 63.2 cubic feet (1,790), respectively.
Starting prices for the Hybrid model range from $28,650 for the base LE trim to $37,180 for the high-end Limited. The Prime is more expensive, with the entry-level SE trim starting at $38,100, and the top XSE model can be bought for $41,425.
Keep in mind that these are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) and do not include shipment costs and additional taxes. Also, it’s worth noting that the Prime is eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 as well as other state credits, but these are post-purchase incentives.
In conclusion, the RAV4 Prime is more powerful and more fuel-efficient, it can tow heavier loads, and it offers 42 miles (67.5 km) of pure electric driving range. On the other hand, the Hybrid is cheaper, doesn’t require recharging, and offers more cargo space. In the end, it’s up to you to decide which factors are more important.