Chevy Bolt owner switches to Toyota RAV4 Prime
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Why One Battery-Electric Vehicle Owner Switched To the Toyota RAV4 Prime Plug-in Hybrid

A new Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle owner from Orange County, California explains why she gave up her battery-electric Chevy Bolt.

Battery-electric vehicles work splendidly for many owners in many circumstances. Yet, there are jobs that a plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV) can do better than a battery-only vehicle. A happy Chevy Bolt owner, MF, recently posted a farewell picture and brief comment in the Facebook Bolt owners group. That club is a great one, and the membership wished her well. We reached out to MF to learn more details on why an EV owner would switch to a vehicle like the Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEV.

Related Story: Tesla Owners Are Buying Toyota RAV4 Prime Plug-in Hybrids – Here’s Why

- Tell us about your past cars concluding your Bolt. What have you owned and what did you like about them?
MF - Prior to my 2018 Bolt Premier EV, I owned a 2006 Mazda Tribute for 11 years that I purchased new. The Tribute was a great car until the repairs cost more than the car's value. My favorite features of the Tribute were the spacious interior for hauling stuff, trailer hitch (with light towing capacity), leather seats, easy to drive, 6 cylinders that had more "gitty-up" than the 4 cylinder trim. Also, it was a great-looking car!

TN - How long did you own your Bolt?
MF - A little over 3 years. All this time, I've been preaching about how wonderful it is to be free of gasoline, oil changes, smog checks, etc so it's bittersweet to have to go back to a vehicle with a gas engine.

TN - You switched from the Bolt to a PHEV crossover. What can the RAV4 Prime do that the Bolt could not?
MF - Although I've only driven the RAV4 Prime twice (test drive and drive home), I have high expectations for this vehicle.
RAV4 should allow me to:
1. road trips/camping
2. dirt roads
3. long-haul drives
4. up to 2500 pound towing capacity; tow trailer or small camper
5. haul bikes, kayaks, etc.
3. more interior space for hauling stuff/moving my things
4. more comfortable (seats)
5. maintain resale value
6. best of both worlds (EV range with added hybrid range reliability)

TN - Did you consider the new Bolt EUV coming in a couple of months?
MF - Yes, I thought about it for a moment. However, I needed a car that I could just get in and drive across the country or take on dirt roads and camping. So, until EV-only vehicles can match the range, AWD, towing capacity of a plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle like the RAV4 Prime, unfortunately, I have to revert back to a vehicle that isn’t fully electric, even if it's just for the next five years or so.

TN - Dealer markups are a hot topic. Do you feel you got a fair deal on your RAV4 Prime? How was your purchase experience?
MF - The dealer had just one XSE (mine) and two SEs on the lot when I got mine. I missed out on some features I would have wanted (in the Premium package). However, I didn't really want to wait any longer for my new RAV4 Prime, so I just took what they had on the lot. The old game of pushing for the best price and walking away as a bluff is not realistic today. I think I got a fair price considering their limited inventory and high demand. I added some accessories, a maintenance plan, and an extended warranty that brought the price to above MSRP. I find that tough negotiating, while necessary, makes the car buying process so negative and I really wanted a positive experience.

TN - Thinking about your typical month, do you think you will use the RAV4 Prime primarily as an EV in your normal daily use?
MF - I plan to use my RAV4 Prime mainly as an EV. I'm actually worried about stale gas, LOL!
My daily errands don't exceed the 42 mile EV range that the RAV4 Prime offers.

TN - How do you charge? Home, away, mix?
MF - I have a detached garage and 120 volt (level 1) charging has met my needs so far.

TN - You’ve walked the walk for three years as an EV owner. Can you add any perspective to help folks understand why you moved to the RAV4 Prime from an all-electric vehicle?
MF - EV’s are great! I think people need to really think about their lifestyle and get a car that will serve them to live their best life, as long as it doesn't break the bank. A car is a depreciating asset but it can really add value to one's life by getting you to the places and sights that make this life worth living.

Related Story: Comparison Nails Why Toyota PHEVs Feel Different Than Competitors' Efforts

TN - You chose Toyota as a brand. Any comments on that aspect of your purchase?
MF - Toyota has a great reputation for their vehicles maintaining their value over the years, so paying more for a Toyota doesn't sting as bad as overpaying for another brand. The Chevy Bolt community folks that I've had the pleasure of learning from are a very special breed and I'm hoping the RAV4 Prime community is just as inviting, helpful and friendly.

We’d like to thank MF for offering to share her personal experience. Feel free to offer your comments below on the subject of BEV owners also owning plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles.

Related Story: Why One Toyota RAV4 Prime Owner Passed On The Tesla Model Y and Honda CR-V Hybrid

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

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Good article. I can totally see her point in moving away from a full EV and I agree with all her points in buying the Prime. I am a Prime owner as well and thought about getting a full EV at first. I could not justify it, especially here in Alberta where charging stations are few and far between. I make a few long trips per year and I do not want to be stopping every 250 miles and waiting an hour or more to charge my EV. The Prime allows me to be in EV full time while I am in the city and then allows me to travel 500+ miles on the gas engine when I do my longer trips.
The wife and I took our RAV4 XSE, with the XSE premium package, on an 8500 mile shake down cruise. It handled flawlessly, including camping using the 1500w inverter as the only energy source, (no propane) for cooking and light. We have a low power, 120v or 12v, compressor cooled, cooler that can keep frozen items frozen. The 6.6 charger, was a boon, giving us a full charge in 2.5 hours, but we wished we were equipped for type 3 charging.
The wife and I took our RAV4 XSE, with the XSE premium package, on an 8500 mile shake down cruise. It handled flawlessly, including camping using the 1500w inverter as the only energy source, (no propane) for cooking and light. We have a low power, 120v or 12v, compressor cooled, cooler that can keep frozen items frozen. The 6.6 charger, was a boon, giving us a full charge in 2.5 hours, but we wished we were equipped for type 3 charging.
There's no way I'll buy an EV until solid-state batteries come of age at reasonable cost per kWh. There would have to be enough high-power charging stations available wherever I plan on traveling. I wanted a white RAV4 Prime SE last summer, but thought it would be at least 2 years before getting one at retail or below. So, I bought a 2020 Lexus ES 350 to keep me happy until the right Toyota or Lexus PHEV came along. Last week, a friend in Colorado managed to get the exact RAV4 Prime I wanted at retail. He had to fly to California to get it. Oh well, I do like my Lexus and hope I can still get the full federal tax credit when it's time to switch to a Toyota or Lexus PHEV. After a 4,000 mile road trip, I now realize how good a highway car the Lexus is. It was so quiet on many road surfaces and got an average of 35 mpg at 75 MPH on the highway. I was expecting an average of only 30 MPG. Not bad for a V6. I'd love to see a Lexus ES PHEV with the same equipment going into the RAV4 Prime, but won't mind giving up a little luxury if I choose the RAV4 Prime a year or so from now. The NX 450h+ may appeal to me even more at the right price.
We have one car, PIEH like the Rav PIEH, and only need one car. In town ev, combined on trips, use about a tank of gas a year. Have ebikes for most trips locally. What is the Carbon Foot print of a 2nd car? EVs are great until you are forced to buy the ICE car for trips.
I have a 2018 BMW I3 with a range extender and a 2018 Subaru Outback. I love my BMW EV but I use the Subaru for camping etc. all the time. I don't want to have to rely on finding a charging station to continue traveling so I am considering trading in the Outback fora new or used Subaru Crosstrek hybrid or maybe the RAV4 Prime. I just wish the battery range on both was larger. Thoughts??