First Drive: 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Is Powerful and Luxurious

Plug-in hybrid SUV gives buyers a stepping-stone to taking the full electric leap

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Consumer Reports

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid gives small-SUV buyers the ability to drive up to 42 miles on electric power. Unlike many hybrids, which are designed with fuel efficiency as the number one concern, performance is part of the RAV4 Prime’s game, too. Toyota claims it is the second-fastest model in its lineup, trailing only the Supra sports car in acceleration.

Consumer Reports members will find our detailed first drive impressions below, including what we like and what we don’t like so far.

The RAV4 Prime builds on the features of the regular RAV4 Hybrid, but brings more performance—with 302 horsepower on board, it’s the most powerful RAV4 ever. Toyota retuned the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and endowed the Prime with a newly developed, high-capacity lithium-ion battery to power dual electric motors. All-wheel drive comes standard.

Prices for the RAV4 Prime start at $38,100 for the SE model and top off at $41,425 for the XSE.

Update: Since this first drive was originally published in July 2020, we finished testing the Toyota RAV4 Prime.

Read the complete RAV4 Prime road test.

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The RAV4 Prime bridges the gap between other small hybrid SUVs, such as the Ford Escape Hybrid, Honda CR-V Hybrid, and the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, as well as the fully electric Tesla Model Y.

If you’re a Consumer Reports member, our initial expert assessment of the new RAV4 Prime XSE we rented from Toyota is available to you below. We later purchased a RAV4 Prime of our own and put it through more than 50 tests at the CR Auto Test Center, including those that evaluate acceleration, braking, fuel economy, handling, car-seat fit, and controls. See the completed road test.

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What we rented: 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE
Powertrain: 302-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid; continuously variable transmission; all-wheel drive
MSRP: $41,425
Destination fee: $1,120
Total cost: $42,545

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