Since it was just introduced last year, not much has changed for the Toyota RAV4 Prime, but it remains one of the strangest vehicles in the Toyota stable. It’s a plug-in hybrid compact crossover with some off-road flair equipped with a combined electric and gas powerplant that makes it the second-fastest vehicle Toyota makes, slotting between the Supra and GR 86 sports cars. At the same time, it isn’t very well equipped compared to most RAV4 models, yet features a much higher purchase price than gas models.
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2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime Overview
Choosing Your Toyota RAV4 Prime
There’s one engine choice for the 2022 RAV4 Prime, and it’s fantastic. All Primes come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder combined with two electric motors and an 18.1 kWh battery pack. This gives the crossover a whopping 302 horsepower, which more than offsets the extra 500 lbs that the battery adds.
The hybrid powertrain allows the Prime to achieve about 38 mpg combined, while the 18.1 kWh battery allows the Prime to travel up to 42 miles on electric-only range.
All Prime models receive all-wheel drive, but it’s a bit different than most other crossovers. Instead of power being directed from the gas engine, the rear wheels are just driven by one of the electric motors. This only kicks in when the vehicle feels the need for rear traction, so most times it is essentially a front-wheel-drive vehicle.
Passenger and Cargo Capacity
The RAV4 Prime features seating for five with a roomy back seat and enough headroom for most adults.
However, the big battery pack of the Prime does require a slight reduction in cargo space behind the second row compared to the gas-powered RAV4; it gets 33.5 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 69.9 cubic feet with the seats folded. Comparatively, the regular RAV4 has 37.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat, while somehow remaining practically the same with the seats flat.
Toyota quite possibly offers the best standard suite of safety features in the car business today, and the RAV4 is no different. All models come with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic high beams.
The RAV4 Prime has also been crash tested well, but the cars receive marginal ratings for the LED headlights, reflecting the major issue with the standard RAV4. However, the XSE can receive the “Good” rated adaptive headlights as a part of the top option package.
All Prime models come standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa connectivity. Base SE models receive an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display, while the XSE models receive an upgraded 9.0-inch display. XSE models also receive a few other cool features such as a foot-activated tailgate, advanced all-wheel-drive modes, and an extra display.
Optionally, the XSE is capable of adding navigation and a premium audio system as well, but the SE models do not receive access to these upgrades.
SE models come standard with cloth upholstery, heated seats, dual-zone climate control, an eight-way power seat for the driver, 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and keyless entry. We wouldn’t call that well-equipped for a car that exceeds $40,000, but we concede that most of that money goes towards the fancy hybrid powertrain of the Prime.
The only option pack available for the SE is the $1,665 Weather and Moonroof package, which adds some great features like a heated steering wheel, rear outboard heated seats, rain-sensing wipers, and a power moonroof.
The XSE is better equipped, but you still only get leatherette-trimmed fabric seats for that price. Moving up to the XSE also provides paddle shifters for the gearless CVT transmission, 19-inch wheels, some red interior accents for a sporty feel, red-painted shock absorbers for a sporty feel, ambient interior lighting, wireless smartphone charging, a 9.0-inch infotainment system, and a moonroof.
What the XSE really offers is the ability to spend money on four additional option packages. Thankfully, these packages are offered sequentially, so you can select the level you want to spend.
The base package is the $815 Weather Package that is basically the same as the package available on the SE. This can be rolled into the $2,435 Premium Audio, Dynamic Navigation with Options package which adds premium audio and navigation to the Weather Package or the confusingly-named $3,235 Premium Audio, Dynamic Navigation with Options package which is the same as the previous level but adds a 6.6 kW charger cable that almost halves the charging time.
Finally, at the top of the list is the $5,345 Premium Package which includes everything below along with pretty much every other option available on the Prime, including a head-up display, a panoramic roof, a 360-degree surround-view camera, leatherette seats, adaptive headlights, the foot-activated tailgate, and parking assist.
The base SE RAV4 Prime offers essentially the same list of features and options as the gasoline-powered base-level $29,210 RAV4 XLE at an eye-watering $12,000 price premium. If you are going to spend over $40,000, you may as well upgrade to an XSE and seriously consider the option packages. Otherwise, you may be left wondering where your money went whenever you’re not blasting off the line in between traffic lights. That being said, if you do not regularly drive more than 40 miles per day, you may be able to make up the price difference in a few years in gas savings.
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