Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs. Toyota RAV4 Prime

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009 and has been published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also hosts a web-series car-review show and dabbles in the world of personal-finance writing.

His specialty is in the high-performance realm, but he has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Before diving into the world of writing, Justin was an automotive technician and manager for six years and spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - October 8, 2020

The Toyota RAV4 was one of the first green crossovers with its super-limited EV model way back in 1997. This electrified crossover lasted only through 2003, but it paved the way for the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid in 2016.

As the hybrid crossover segment starts to fill up, the automaker is looking to shake things up again with the all-new 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid with serious performance chops.

We take a closer look at both models to see if it's worth the extra cash to bump up to the RAV4 Prime instead of sticking with the more wallet-friendly RAV4 Hybrid.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid & Toyota RAV4 Prime »

What the RAV4 Hybrid Gets Right

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid gets an immediate head start on its plug-in sibling with a starting price of $29,675, which is over $9,500 cheaper than the $39,220 Toyota RAV4 Prime.

The RAV4 Hybrid also has superior fuel economy in hybrid mode, as it gets 40 miles per gallon combined to the RAV4 Prime’s 38 mpg combined, according to the EPA. The RAV4 Hybrid is also 500 pounds lighter than the RAV4 Prime, making it nimbler in corners.

The RAV4 Hybrid’s smaller battery allows up to 37.6 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats upright and 69.8 with them folded. This beats the RAV4 Prime by 4.1 cubic feet with the second row in place, but they have the same cargo capacity with it folded.

What the RAV4 Prime Gets Right

The Toyota RAV4 Prime’s key advantage is its powertrain. Its combination of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors gives it 302 horsepower and a 5.7-second 0-60 mph sprint. This makes it the second-quickest Toyota – only the Supra is quicker to 60 mph. This powertrain also allows it to tow up to 2,500 pounds, beating the RAV4 Hybrid by 750.

The RAV4 Prime also boasts an 18.1-kWh battery pack, which gives it a 42-mile all-electric range, which fits most commutes.

Though most of its added costs is due to its powertrain, the RAV4 Prime also throws in the SE trim’s sportier standard.

Craving Power? Go Prime

The Toyota RAV4 Prime is a great option for buyers who want a thrifty crossover that can also perform with the big boys. This is a narrow niche, but there's some demand for it.

Our Verdict: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid checks most of the necessary boxes for a family crossover: low price, great fuel economy, decent performance, roomy interior, ample standard features, and loads of options. This makes it a better overall choice for the average family.

Take a closer look at the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid »

Take a closer look at the Toyota RAV4 Prime »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009 and has been published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also hosts a web-series car-review show and dabbles in the world of personal-finance writing.

His specialty is in the high-performance realm, but he has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Before diving into the world of writing, Justin was an automotive technician and manager for six years and spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Twitter

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