Skip to main content

How Comfortable is 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime? An Inside Look at Space

I investigate passenger space, cargo capacity, and ride comfort in 2021 RAV4 Prime. You may be surprised by my findings.


There is a new vehicle in the Toyota lineup that you probably know about.

You may have researched it. You may even be on a waiting list to get one. Some people now own one and are driving them as I write my story for you. However, few have even sat in one or test driven one to this point.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime.

RAV4 Prime Specs

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE Supersonic Red profile view front end

You see, Toyota only manufactured several thousand RAV4 Prime vehicles initially. Plus, they are only sold in select regions across the United States. And they are very popular and in high demand it seems.

I am fortunate to be evaluating a 2021 RAV4 Prime XSE this week. In Supersonic Red. This is the very first time I have ever sat in a RAV4 Prime, so I am learning on the fly as I go.

What is the best way to describe a Prime? First, imagine a traditional 2021 RAV4 or RAV4 Hybrid. The Prime is nearly identical in exterior and interior dimensions.

Then, add the ability to plug it in and run it on electric power some of the time, and hybrid power (gasoline and electric) the remainder of the time.

Here is what Toyota RAV4 Prime offers. 302 horsepower. A 42-mile electric driving range. 94MPGe fuel efficiency ratings. A 0-60 time of 5.7 seconds.

Yes, it is powerful and zippy and quiet and mpg friendly.

In fact, it is the most powerful and the fastest Toyota RAV4 to-date.

But is it comfortable?

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime comfort

There are two trim levels for Toyota RAV4 Prime – SE and XSE. Buyers can upgrade their XSE with a Premium Package that offers many useful upgrades.

In my opinion, this makes three trim levels (SE, XSE, XSE with Premium Package).

The reason I say this is that seating varies between these three. We shall start there – with the seats.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime SE interior rear seats black colorRAV4 Prime SE seats

A RAV4 Prime SE features standard fabric seats with embossed seat inserts and red stitching. XSE has SofTex seats with fabric seat inserts and red stitching. XSE Premium Package gives owners full SofTex seats with red accents and stitching.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE interior front seats black colorRAV4 Prime XSE Premium Package seats

My test vehicle is a 2021 RAV4 Prime XSE with Premium Package. I am finding the seats to be quite comfortable.
Not hard or stiff at all. This vehicle comes with both heated and cooled front seats, as well as heated rear seats. It also has memory seat positions for two people.

Earlier I compared RAV4 Prime to Toyota RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid. This is because interior dimensions are mostly identical in all three models.

Front seat leg room is 41 inches. Front head room is 37.7 inches.

Rear seat leg room is 37.8 inches. Rear head room is 39.5 inches.

Most passengers should find plenty of room to sit up straight or stretch out a little on long road trips. Of course, much taller people may want to visit a Toyota dealership and sit inside a RAV4 or RAV4 Hybrid or RAV4 Prime just to double check.

One “hidden” feature I like is that you can adjust each rear seat to recline a couple inches with a lever on top of the seat. This slight adjustment could add to overall ride comfort for many people.

2021 RAV4 Prime cargo space

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime interior cargo space cargo capacity

Another facet of comfort is the ability to successfully haul your luggage, crates, coolers, and other gear on trips. Cargo space.

Again, look for nearly identical interior dimensions between RAV4 Prime and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and RAV4 when discussing cargo space.

This video from my “Toyotajeff” YouTube channel digs deeper into both passenger space and cargo capacity. I packed it with boxes and storage tubs to show what it can store. I hope you find it helpful in your research.

Total passenger volume is 98.9 cubic feet. Cargo volume behind the front seat is 69.8 cubic feet. Cargo volume behind the rear seat is between 33.5 and 37 cubic feet, depending on if you have the panoramic moonroof or not.

My measurements found about 40 inches from back of the rear seat to the tailgate. I also found about 72 inches from back of the front seat to the tailgate. Hopefully, this can assist you with research as well.

RAV4 Prime ride comfort

In my opinion, 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime rides smooth and comfortable.

We know it is powerful from its 302 horsepower. You can feel the low-end torque right from start-up. To me, the most significant burst of power comes when you are aggressively accelerating from about 35mph to highway speeds of around 70mph. RAV4 Prime flies and it does it relatively quietly, all things considered.

Prime takes bumps mostly soft and it hugs country road curves tightly. I suspect this is due to its multi-link rear suspension.

There are different driving modes and configurations that I am still learning.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime driving modes interior

EV mode is all-electric and this is what allows you to drive up to 42 miles without using any gasoline.

HV is hybrid vehicle and this is when your Prime uses a combination of gasoline and electric motor power (this is similar to RAV4 Hybrid). Toyota suggests you drive highways in HV mode for best results, but you can play around with this to see what works for you.

You can also let your RAV4 Prime choose your mode for you when you are in Auto HV/EV mode.

The really cool mode is when you put your car in Charge mode. This recharges electric range so that you have additional miles to run in all-electric. The negative seems to be that you sacrifice gas mileage in performing this function.

Yesterday, I was driving in the city and had 20 electric miles left. I was averaging 38.3mpg (in just hybrid mode). I switched into Charge mode and within 10 minutes I was back up to 22 miles of electric range. However, my mpg slipped to 37.2 in that time.

Charge mode is a give and take. A pros and cons. But an interesting feature to explore and get to know more.

Time for your Toyota RAV4 thoughts

Do you own a RAV4 Prime and what are your experiences so far? What are your impressions with comfort?

Are you interested in getting one and are you currently on a waiting list?

I have this vehicle all week so let me know if there is any topic or aspect of 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime that you want me to investigate and report back.

Thanks for reading everyone. See you next story when I discuss a potential time frame for 2022 Toyota Tundra Hybrid.

READ MORE: Toyota has a fix for RAV4 gas tank issues.

Follow Jeff Teague on social media:

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

Thank you everyone for following me.


Tom (not verified)    February 23, 2021 - 2:36PM

Thanks for the video. Planning to purchase the Prime later this Spring from an out of state dealer. When you test drive would be interested to know if you use the shifting paddles. I also have a Volvo XC60 Recharge and even though it only achieves 20 miles electric, I use the available shifting paddles, while in town driving to achieve additional EV miles.
Was this video done in Raleigh? Noted Texas plates. I am located in Western N.C.

Dan (not verified)    February 23, 2021 - 8:37PM

Hi Jeff,
I've had mine since August and am thrilled with it. Two things I would like to know. In cold weather and EV mode at startup, there is a super load groan and vibration for several seconds, the suspect is the heat pump. The other item, Toyota says no added regen from using the paddles, however in EV mode again, OBD readings of current flow absolutely indicate increased regen using the paddles to slow you down.A bunch of us would really like to know what Toyota has to say on these issues, thanks.

Wayne H (not verified)    February 24, 2021 - 2:38PM

RAV4 Prime Questions:
Is a front passenger assist handle standard?
Width in inches of rear storage space (for fold-down walkers with built in seats used by elderly)?
Uses regular gas?

Callum (not verified)    February 24, 2021 - 3:43PM

I've recently ordered an XSE model for the larger wheels and higher ground clearance than the SE, and for the Prime's towing capacity for our little RV trailer. Glad to hear you find it comfortable.

Jerry (not verified)    February 24, 2021 - 6:45PM

I've had mine for almost 2 months in SoCal. Mostly city driving. Pretty awesome vehicle. I can say it feels a little heavy to drive, but this may be because i used to drive a civic. Interior is pretty comfortable as well. What i can also say is my first few charges were giving me ~38 mile range but this range adjusts depending on your driving habits. My last 3 charges have been giving me 49 mile EV range! If you can take advantage of the tax credit or don't care for the price, i would definitely recommend it.

Alex (not verified)    February 24, 2021 - 6:59PM

I have been driving RAV4 XSE Prime since September. Very happy so far, but have been wondering about its regenerative braking mode which other EVs have. Like the e-pedal on Leaf, or B drive mode on eGolf - they go into regenerative braking when you release gas pedal. Is Charge that mode? I believe that paddles only take you into sport mode but maybe not. I wish their manual was easier to understand.

Anon (not verified)    February 24, 2021 - 8:12PM

What are the diagonal dimensions of the cargo area?? Like from top right of the hatch to bottom left??

Alain (not verified)    February 24, 2021 - 9:07PM

Hi Jeff,

I own a RAV4 Prime XSE since early January 2021 in Ottawa, Canada.

I love the vehicle for all the reasons it was announced and purchased for, it really meet my expectations.
I will go directly to my single review of minor hiccups which are not complaints, just want to share.
1- the key fob does not remote start my engine with the 3 press/hold on the door lock. I wish it did to warmup the inside on cold mornings. Basically I don’t have a remote start the warmup the interior.
2- the A/C button on the key fob only start the battery/ light heat but nothing like a heat pump at all. Way too cold after the 20 minutes A/C remote button. The APP does exactly the same poor heating.
I believe the A/C button and the app would be only convenient for the summer A/C.

2- head room: the passenger seating had very limited head room. I am 6 feet tall, not considered very tall these days and my head is only one inch from the roof. Anyone taller than 6 feet tall should not consider purchasing this vehicle unless getting the XSE UPGRADE PACKAGE which allows for more passenger seat ajustement.
3- on the winter below minus 15 Celsius (5F), even if running only on EV mode, the gas engine kicks in, therefore unable to run on battery only for these cold days. Unfortunate since I bought this vehicle to avoid the need of consuming gas since I work 5 km from my home. There are maybe only 30 of those cold days at worst per year.
This is my experience so far, loving this ride and the performance and cannot wait for the summer to keep it clean.


Samuel (not verified)    February 24, 2021 - 10:39PM

In reply to by Alain (not verified)

The headroom- eas this for the BACK passengers seat?
I am slmost 6'4". I sat in a rav 4 hybrid, in the driver seat, seemed to be comfortable.

Alain (not verified)    February 26, 2021 - 9:20AM

In reply to by Samuel (not verified)

It is for the front passenger seat.
My friend is 6’2 tall and his head is touching the roof.
I am 6 feet tall and my head with Sun glasses Resting on my head are touching slightly.
My friend had to tilt his head slightly to the left inside the alcove of the Sun roof area to clear.
If he reclined the backrest, it was helping but it is not plesent to be much reclined.
I believe the difference from the RAV4 you tried and mine perhaps may be the 3 inch roof drop to accommodate the sun roof and sliding sun cover panel??

FGP (not verified)    February 24, 2021 - 11:00PM

I have had my RAV4 Prime SE since Sept. 2020. Before buying the RAV4 Prime, I considered and test drove the Mercedes GLC 350e, BMW X3 and Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60 all plug in hybrids. I live in California, so the coldest weather I have experienced is about 33F, when I noticed at full charge I only get 40 miles of EV. I suspect this would be worse in colder weather. That aside, the car is perfect. The ride is comfortable both in driver seat and passenger seat. It handles potholes and bumps very well. Flexibility of driving modes is perhaps where RAV4 prime shines the best. Most of my trips, to and fro, are within the 42 mile range. Therefore for a full tank of gas I have been able to get just under 950 miles. Another way I look at it, is that for 40 miles on all electric mode, I am paying about 4.5c/mile to charge the battery whereas for the same distance with a gas engine car that offers 30MPG, I would have to pay 12c/mile. By the way, there are not many gas engine cars that would offer 30MPG, where the roads are quite hilly! But I have tried to be as conservative as possible in my assessment. I have also learned that if my trip includes small sections that are hilly, for all the short Hill climbs I change to HV mode and for downhill and flat sections I go back to EV. This allows me to get better efficiency on the combined EV/HV without burning too much gas and yet get extended electric range. There are still quite a few things I have to learn about the RAV4 Prime, such as how it fairs on long hilly drives. On long highway rides best option I have had is the auto EV/HV mode. The car's control system is quite clever to switch back and forth between the modes without me having to do a whole lot of thinking and the switchovers are seamless. When gas engine kicks-in the noise is of course noticeable but it is by no means intrusive. The battery is never fully depleted so, it is always available for any on demand accelerations. This is by far the most practical car I have ever owned and belive me, I have owned a few! The cargo space is perfect for my needs. I often load my bicycle in the back without having to take the front wheel off after I lower only one side of the rear seats. My only complain about this car is that the interior could do with a little more lighting on some of the switches at night, or at least some accent lighting to make them a little more visible. Visibility throughout the car is excellent. The rear view camera could be a little better in terms of Visibility, particularly at night. In general,, I am very happy and I love driving this car and give Toyota close to perfect score for it.

CM (not verified)    March 7, 2021 - 7:22PM

In reply to by FGP (not verified)

I currently own a BMW x3 and though I like it - in all honesty, I don't LOVE it. Bought it on a whim and let go of a perfectly good Subaru Outback. My biggest question about the Rav4 prime is how quiet is it? How pronounced is road noise? Most of my favorite past cars: Lexus, Highlander and even the Subaru were supremely quiet and road trips were easily managed with road noise. I am particularly interested in how quiet the prime is. One review I saw said the prime is quite a bit more quiet than the regular hybrid. Thoughts? Experiences?

Amparo DeCarlo (not verified)    February 25, 2021 - 8:10AM

Why keep advertising this vehicle when is not available
I go to a dealership or visit online and they don’t even advertise
Anyhow my area is south Florida

FGP (not verified)    February 27, 2021 - 7:48PM

In reply to by Amparo DeCarlo (not verified)

You are right! I looked for a while and managed to find one Toyota dealership that had 2 Prime SE's. This dealership is 100 miles from where I live! I did not waste time, drove there the next day and picked it up! By the time I got to the dealership one of the cars had already been sold!

Michael (not verified)    February 25, 2021 - 11:14AM

I'm completely thrilled with all the reviews, my basic question is when does Toyota plan to make them more widely available, does anyone know?

Adam O (not verified)    June 25, 2021 - 1:48AM

Is there a way to make the rear seats lie perfectly flat? I know in the video you said the incline is "nothing to write home about" but for people who consistently travel with items for their living or who might want to sleep in the back this is actually a really important question. Not being able to put the back seats flat is a deal breaker for me.