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2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime: The best RAV4 ever made?

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2021 toyota rav4 prime

Could this be the best RAV4 Toyota has ever built? (Photo by Tim Esterdahl)

At first glance that $49,461 price tag on the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime seems a little steep for a Toyota compact SUV. Until you drive it. Publisher Tim Esterdahl recently did just that and said this little SUV is “pleasurable to drive.” That’s high praise, coming from a truck guy.

For a few years, the RAV4 has been one of the top-selling vehicles, second only to the Toyota Camry. This isn’t just for Toyota — it’s across the board. People love this compact SUV that has the same passenger capacity as a sedan, but offers a little more ground clearance, ride height for the passenger, and a fantastic amount of cargo space. And it doesn’t sacrifice fuel economy. Toyota has offered a hybrid version of the RAV4 since 2016, but the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime takes things a step further as a plugin-hybrid.

42 miles all-electric range

For a plugin hybrid SUV, even a small one, this is pretty impressive. We’ve seen a lot of 18-20 mile range PHEVs but the RAV4 Prime doubles that with 42 miles of all-electric driving. For many people, that’s their whole commute. For us country folks it probably covers at least one way, leaving us to drive on gas on the way home. Still, that’s a 90+ MPG combined average.

And this is not a weak powertrain. Thanks to the electric engine and the 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder gas engine the RAV4 Prime has a combined 302 horsepower. Talk about get-up-and-go. This little buggy moves when you punch it!

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime interior

Esterdahl points out the beautiful red stitching and stripes on the seats which are unique to the RAV4 Prime. There are also front-and-rear heated seats and a heated steering wheel. And, of course, this little SUV also comes fully equipped with all of Toyota’s safety sense technology.

For a compact SUV, the RAV4 is quite roomy. Esterdahl notes even in the back seat he has plenty of hip, leg and headroom. And the cargo space in these little cars is a thing of beauty.

The infotainment screen, however, feels a bit like a last-minute add-on.

What do you think of the RAV4 Prime? Is this a vehicle you’d consider for your family?

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Erica Mueller

Erica Mueller is a Texan, which means she believes that trucks are family vehicles and giant SUVs make good second cars. As part-time auto journalist for almost a decade, Erica enjoys driving all kinds of vehicles and sharing her experiences with others. Erica is the secretary of the board for the Texas Auto Writers Association as well as a contributor at A Girls Guide to Cars.

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