Skip to main content

This Percent of Toyota RAV4 Prime Owners Use It As An Electric Vehicle

We polled owners of the Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle to see how many use it mostly as an electric vehicle and how many use it mostly as a hybrid. The answer was pretty clear.


Toyota’s RAV4 Prime is a plug-in hybrid-electric (PHEV) crossover vehicle that has come to define the segment. The RAV4 Prime can travel up to 42 miles on a full battery charge, more than enough for many, if not most, daily commutes and daily usage. We polled owners to see how many use their RAV4 Prime as mostly an electric vehicle and how many do the opposite, using it as mostly a hybrid. Like all modern PHEVs, the RAV4 Prime never operates as a traditional ICE vehicle. With its traction battery depleted, it reverts to a full hybrid with a 38 MPG rating.

Related: Need a Handy Vocabulary Guide For EVs? Here you Go!

The Poll
We asked the 3,000 owners/members in the Official RAV4 Prime Owners Club on Facebook “How do you use your RAV4 Prime? As a "range-extended" EV or as a hybrid that can sometimes operate on EV power alone?” We then added two choices for the members to select. 93% chose option 1, “Daily as an EV, but with extended range for occasional long trips.” Only 7% chose option two, “As a hybrid that occasionally operates on EV mode.”

Image by John GorehamMost PHEV Owners Use Their Vehicle As an EV
The poll was our attempt to learn how most plug-in hybrid electric vehicle owners put the vehicle to use in their daily life. For the most part, Toyota RAV4 Prime owners seem to use the vehicle as it was intended. As a vehicle that is plugged in each evening to boost overall MPGe to 94. The second group may well have opted for a RAV4 Hybrid to meet their needs. The RAV4 Hybrid actually gets better mileage at 40 MPG.

What Owners Told Us About Using a PHEV
Because a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle has a smaller battery than a battery-electric vehicle, EV range is limited to about what an average vehicle owner will travel in a given daily commute or around town. However, once that is range is depleted, the vehicle can travel over 500 miles without the need to refuel or recharge operating as a super-efficient hybrid. Here is what some owners told us in comments under ur post, and at another forum where we asked the same question but did not use a poll format. We did that in order to get replies back that were more detailed.

“All-electric commuter most days, average of one tank of gas a month due to out-of-town trips that average once or twice a month... Perfect vehicle for us.”

“Daily as an EV. Occasional HV trips. Pure EV most of the time with NO hesitation or range anxiety to go anywhere, anytime. I purposefully run it in HV every week or two, just to exercise the ICE. Love it!”

“Daily EV, when needed for longer trips or highway HV. Just had my 2nd fill up and celebrating 6 months! Love bypassing those gas stations!”

“I maximize the EV and hybrid after that. My driving has a wide range between highway city and towing. I’m always trying to “beat my score” and see how many miles I can pack into a tank.”

“My wife drives Rav4 Prime like it's a corvette! But she doesn't mess with the buttons. So the 1st 50 miles it is in EV mode. Rarely do we go into HV mode except for longer trips. Thankfully!! She does see her score and just argues with the R4P that she did much better than what it said she did..”

Some owners happily use the RAV4 Prime in hybrid mode. Here are two examples from the comments:
“I drive it like a hybrid. That’s fast. Tax credits made it the same price as rav4 hybrid.”

“Sports mode all day! Smoking people on the freeway! Don’t sleep on the prime!”

Both of the last two comments refer to the RAV4 Prime’s 300 hp and 0-60 MPH time of under six seconds.

The informal poll we conducted in the two largest clubs for the RAV4 Prime PHEV validate the positions we took in our recent story, “5 Plug-in Hybrid EV Myths Battery-Electric Purists Wish Were True.” Myth three is, “Owners of PHEVs Don’t Charge Them, Thus They Are Not Really Green.”

If you own a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle or plan to get one soon, describe your user profile in the comments below.

Also, watch Toyota suddenly bringing its BZ4X electric SUV concept to United States on Torque News Youtube channel and please subscribe us on Youtube and follow on Twitter for daily Toyota and EV news reports.

Image note: RAV4 Prime image courtesy of Kate Silbaugh

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin


DeanMcManis (not verified)    June 4, 2021 - 2:05AM

I recharge at home overnight every day, and use my 40+ miles for all city, EV-only driving and the stop-and-go commuter crawl, but when I have longer to drive, I switch it over as needed to gas operation and it works as a hybrid, getting 40MPG+(gas-only) and much better overall with the EV-only mileage figured in. Someday soon, I will own a BEV, but in the meantime my EREV is VERY economical.

John Goreham    June 4, 2021 - 9:01AM

In reply to by DeanMcManis (not verified)

Thanks for adding that comment, Dean. When I'm in commuter traffic and I look around at all the massive gas burners with one occupant I often think of the positive impact on the environment if every vehicle in that daily grind was either using EV operation or getting 40 MPG.

badmonkey (not verified)    June 7, 2021 - 12:06AM

In reply to by John Goreham

Got news for you, your rav4 outweighs most full size trucks and vans. You can babble about being green once you roll 150k miles on it which is what it takes to outweigh the extra battery and motor weight. Keep your smugness to a min. Please

John (not verified)    June 5, 2021 - 11:23PM

We’ve loved having our 2017 Volt and now have a Rav4 Prime on order.
Same EV quiet with twice the power and the room inside I’ve always wished the Volt to have.
The new Prime will join our two other RAV4’s … a 2006 Sport with 175,000 miles and our 2019 Rav4 Limited Hybrid with 29,000 miles.
PS - I added the Openpilot system to our 2019 and now have enjoyed 25,000 miles of hands free driving on our numerous long trips in the west and intend to install another Openpilot system to the new Prime when it arrives.

Rhaman (not verified)    March 28, 2022 - 1:30PM

In reply to by badmonkey (not verified)

Sorry but to say “tank of gas” is nebulous as you do no use all of the gasoline prior to refueling. Two measures, gallons purchased for 1200 miles or mpg achieved and recorded by the car are data based resultant. BTW, if I drive 7 days in electric mode, the MPG is infinite mpg. A trip of 80 miles is 40 in EV and 40 in hybrid mode at 40 mpg= 80 mpg. Right? In your case 1200 miles using 10 gallons = 120 mpg. Better data for management. Thanks

David Stone (not verified)    June 14, 2021 - 6:38AM

You wrote "Like all modern PHEVs, the RAV4 Prime never operates as a traditional ICE vehicle. With its traction battery depleted, it reverts to a full hybrid with a 38 MPG rating"
I don't understand what you're saying. If the battery is depleted, isn't the car running solely on its gasoline engine; i.e as a traditional ICE?

John Goreham    June 14, 2021 - 8:48AM

In reply to by David Stone (not verified)

Great question. No, the vehicle never opts to run as a traditional ICE. Like all hybrids, the vehicle manages its battery power so that starts always have electric motor assist, the rear AWD system always is in play with electric power, and the vehicle can coast without the gas engine being operation in many situations. The vehicle manages the battery system. When the EVmode is no longer an option, the battery still has ample power to maintain hybrid driving indefinitely. Regenerative braking provides constant inputs of power for the hybrid system to operate without interruption. To put it simply, the vehicle never lets the battery really get to zero, though it will disable EVMode at a certain point when the electric power has dropped low enough.