Skip to main content

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs 2020: What is New

Learn all that is new for 2021 RAV4. It may surprise you.


Toyota RAV4 was redesigned in 2019. It was built pretty much completely new from the ground up with a new Toyota New Global Architecture platform.

Drivers and their passengers can expect improved ride quality, technology, safety and comfort with this fifth generation RAV4.

Sales of Toyota RAV4 are high and buyers have made this the best-selling small SUV in the country for the last three years.

Keeping this in mind, there really should not be too many updates and changes to expect two years into a vehicle life cycle.

Still, I do have a few changes to mention that may assist you with your vehicle research.

2021 RAV4 Hybrid Updates

For 2020 model year, people interested in a RAV4 had 10 different grades to choose from – six gasoline (LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Limited, Adventure and TRD Off-Road) and four hybrid models (LE, XLE, Limited and XSE).

2021 Toyota RAV4 XLE Premium Hybrid Magnetic Gray Metallic profile view

Expect to see a new trim level for 2021. And it is a familiar one, of sorts.

Look for the 2021 RAV4 XLE Premium to reach dealerships this month (October). Supplies should continue increasing through the remainder of the year.

Features upgraded from a RAV4 XLE Hybrid you might enjoy are standard SofTex seats, power liftgate and moonroof. This is actually very similar to gasoline RAV4 XLE Premium models – just with a different powertrain and fuel economy.

2021 Toyota RAV4 XLE Premium Hybrid interior

This is the only new addition or change you will find for the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

Well, in a way at least.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

Even though this is already available in a handful of states scattered across the country, 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime should be counted as a 2021 RAV4 Hybrid update.

This new SUV is a game changer.

Specs to consider:
- 302 horsepower – this is the most powerful RAV4 ever.
- 0-60 time of 5.7 seconds – quickest RAV4 of all time.
- 42-mile driving range – no gasoline used during this range.
- 90 MPGe fuel efficiency.
- 2,500-lb. towing capacity.

The 2021 RAV4 Prime uses a combination of a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and three electric motors for power. This is matched with an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission with sequential shift mode.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE Supersonic Red profile side view alloy wheels

Since it uses hybrid power, as I mentioned we are definitely counting this as a RAV4 Hybrid change.

Now, if only people were able to purchase a 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime in every state (including my high-volume Southeast region). Come on Toyota. To quote Rob Schneider, “You can Do it.”

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: 2021 RAV4 TRD Off-Road adds an important feature you will need.

Time for your thoughts on 2021 RAV4

Thanks for reading everyone.

All RAV4 Hybrid models for model year 2019, 2020 and 2021 are powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and electric motors, along with an electronically controlled CVT with sequential shift mode. This produces 219 horsepower, which gives it a power advantage versus gasoline RAV4 models.

What trim level of Toyota RAV4 are you most interested in? Do you own one, and if so, what year and how many miles do you have?

What Toyota models would you like to see me review more on my Toyotajeff YouTube channel?

See you next story when I discuss new safety features on 2021 Camry and 2021 Highlander.

Follow Jeff Teague on social media:

- My website
- Torque News Toyota - my regular column
- YouTube channel - My "Toyotajeff" Toyota reviews
- My Facebook page
- Instagram page @toyotajeff1
- Twitter @toyotajeff1

Thank you everyone for following me.


jay wesley (not verified)    October 6, 2020 - 6:07PM

I'm loving this site. Well done Jeff. Do you know if the gas tank issue on the Hybrid RAV4 is fixed for 2021? Unfortunately, I have one of the affected 2020 models, and I'm amazed that Toyota kept selling the cars instead of asking dealers to send back the bad inventory. I want to love the Prime, but I'm now thinking that by the time I want to commit to one, another manufacturer who doesn't try to hide its problems will come up with something similar.

Ryan Schmidt (not verified)    October 7, 2020 - 11:07AM

In reply to by jay wesley (not verified)

Toyota was actually very transparent about the fuel fill "issue" once it was brought to their attention. They identified the problem and began working to address it right away. "Sending back the bad inventory" isn't how that process works, however. It's taken a little longer than other types of problems to address since it required a complete re-design of the fuel tank which in turn required all new regulatory approvals and safety testing.

As you know, Toyota is extremely rigorous in their testing. What's difficult about the fuel fill problem is that Toyota has not been able to identify what VIN range is affected and from what production time and factory. It presents itself seemingly randomly and is somewhat intermittent for many owners. Effective range is still over 400 miles for most people and while that's not the same as 480 miles, it's hardly something to make a sweeping generalization about a company over.

Jerry Wang (not verified)    December 17, 2020 - 3:30PM

In reply to by Ryan Schmidt (not verified)

It's hard to believe that Toyota does not know which VIN is associated with the fuel tank problem after almost 3 years in production. I came from mass production with VQC or Vendor Quality Control where all components can be traced back to the vendors' quality -- this has been practiced in Japan for decades. If it's not components then it's the manufacturing process at fault which is even more unbelievable for a Japanese manufacturer. So it's a design issue. I like Toyota for its quality but I am surprised by this answer.

Is it possible that the problem has been fixed in the latest production but Toyota is holding up information because they do not have a solution for the "old" RAV4 hybrid in the field already?

George (not verified)    December 20, 2020 - 7:14PM

In reply to by Jerry Wang (not verified)

It is a design issue. The issue is that the fuel sensors malfunction/loosen and tip up. That results in the sensor’s bottom being higher than the tank’s bottom: showing “empty” when it isn’t. It also shows a faulty “xxx until empty” reading for the same reason. So... owners have 4-5 gallons left in tank, but the car thinks it’s empty. You could still drive 150-250 miles, theoretically. The problem is that they break off on random cars at random times, to various degrees, so it threw Toyota off. There is a fix out though. Takes 3 hours at the dealership.

Eric (not verified)    December 13, 2020 - 9:55AM

Hello Jeff! I thoroughly enjoy your videos and knowledge of the RAV4. I am looking into whether I should get a 2020 RAV4 Limited/XSE vs 2021 RAV4 Limited/XSE. I feel like there is no difference but wanted to get your opinion on the matter, would greatly appreciate it! I was concerned with the gas tank issue and if was resolved in the 2020/2021 models? Thank you and keep up the work!

Sue B (not verified)    March 29, 2021 - 2:10PM

I have a 2006 RAV4 6-cylinder with only 130,050 miles on it and the optional third-row foldup seats. I LOVE this car, it has been part of my family since new; just starting to show its age. Looking half-heartedly for the inevitable replacement vehicle, thinking I will downsize now kids are grown but I still want a decent power to weight ratio. Have driven the Mazda CX-5, was not blown away, but it is affordable; also the Subaru Crosstrek Limited, which was nice to drive, but so much new technology I don't feel is necessary just jacks up the price.