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Tale of the Tape: 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime vs RAV4 Hybrid

Compare specs for upcoming 2021 RAV4 Prime versus current RAV4 Hybrid. Pick your winner.

There is a lot to look forward to the remainder of this year if you are a Toyota fan. There will be a big announcement about two brand new hybrids next week May 18th. That is exciting enough on its own.

Plus, we have the much-anticipated launch of the 2021 RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

Today we compare some RAV4 Prime specs vs RAV4 Hybrid specs. Time for a tale of the tape.

RAV4 Prime vs RAV4 Hybrid performance

2020 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid Blizzard Pearl profile view

RAV4 Hybrid is powered by the combination of a 2.5-liter engine with electric motors. It produces 219 horsepower.

In contrast, RAV4 Prime has already generated a tremendous amount of excitement with its announced 302 horsepower. Although it is similar, RAV4 Prime features a re-tuned version of RAV4 Hybrid’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine.

Toyota RAV4 0-60 times

Just like John Travolta’s character in the movie Grease, we think both 2021 RAV4 Prime and RAV4 Hybrid can win at Thunder Road.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is fast. In fact, it will quickly become the fastest RAV4 of all time. Even faster than the mythical RAV4 V6 engine of yesteryear.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Supersonic Red front end

RAV4 Prime 0-60 time is a crazy 5.8 seconds. Even the super quick 3.5-liter V6 engine “only” achieved 0-60 in 6.3 seconds.

Please do not think this means I am raining on the RAV4 Hybrid parade. It is a zippy, swift SUV. Its 0-60 time is 7.8 seconds.

RAV4 Prime trim levels

Toyota introduced a full new lineup of RAV4 Hybrids for the 2019 model year. Buyers can choose between LE, XLE, Limited and the one-of-a-kind XSE.

Look for 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime to feature two trims: the SE and XSE. We are not sure if the pictures we have seen so far are for the SE or the XSE Prime. I suspect XSE. Most launch announcements highlight the highest grade initially with the rest of the lineup to follow.

MPG for RAV4 Hybrid vs RAV4 Prime

For an SUV, the current 2020 RAV4 Hybrid models get fantastic fuel efficiency. If you buy one you can expect somewhere in the range of 41 city / 38 highway and 40 combined. I always say somewhere because a good portion of MPG depends on your driving style and how much of a leadfoot you are.

RAV4 Prime MPG is rated a slightly different way than most of us are used to. Instead of MPG, look for MPGe ratings. This is a combined fuel score using both gasoline and plug-in electric efficiency.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Supersonic Red profile view

Imagine the places you can go in your Toyota RAV4 Prime when it averages 90 MPGe. Yes I said 90.

Give me “RAV4 Potpourri” for $800 please

A few other random notes of interest.

RAV4 Prime is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). This means it can be plugged in and recharged while you are work or sleeping at home overnight.

Charging times are not yet available. However, to give a baseline the Prius Prime produces a full charge in about 5 hours and 30 minutes with a standard 120V outlet, and 2 hours and 10 minutes while using 240V.

RAV4 Prime drivers will be able to travel up to 39 miles on just electric alone. Put in your advance orders for yours if you have a commute-to-work distance of under 40 miles.

VIDEO: I give a 2021 RAV4 Prime review of specs that I have so far.

We are not sure yet of the RAV4 Prime release date. I think it would be wise to plan on sometime between September and end of year until we have a firm date.

Pricing has not been announced yet. Factory MSRP for RAV4 LE Hybrid is $28,350, XLE Hybrid $29,645, XSE Hybrid $34,300 and Limited Hybrid $36,880.

Time for your thoughts on Toyota RAV4

What do you think about RAV4 Prime? Does it fit your lifestyle and how you would use it? Have you any experience yet with either 2020 RAV4 gasoline or RAV4 Hybrid versions and how do you like them?

Thanks for reading everyone. See you next story when I compare 2021 RAV4 Prime SE vs XSE.

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Mark Day (not verified)    May 15, 2020 - 8:44AM

“What do you think about RAV4 Prime?” Response: Silly, detrimental, mandatory "features" on the XSE model: 1) 19-inch wheels - Toyota, and other manufactures, should get off the ridiculous huge tire/wheel size race-to-the-bottom. Deterrents: harsh ride, worse mileage, expensive to replace. Rational size – as on my 2012 RAV4 V6, 225/65R17 2) Black roof – is Toyota kidding? Not a smart roof color in the southern sun – the AC will run more, fuel mileage will suffer and a hotter interior. 3) Moon roof – causes additional heat in the interior and prone to leakage, additional weight. The deal: Since Toyota is out to enhance the bottom line here’s what could close the sale for me: Eliminate the negative “features” on the XSE model by having a single option check-box to remove the black roof, 19-inch wheels, and moon roof. Price the deletions total at $300, and I’m in. What a deal for Toyota – customer paying for nothing.

Tom (not verified)    May 15, 2020 - 12:42PM

In reply to by Mark Day (not verified)

Mark, you know that is what the SE trim is for.
18 inch wheels, most likely the same style as the one on the current XSE trim.
No moonroom (this is an assumption, as the press release does not mention a moonroof on the SE).
No 2 tone roof (meaning the roof is not black, unless you choose a black exterior colour).
Best of all - you'll probably save 2k-3k.

Mark also (not verified)    May 15, 2020 - 7:15PM

In reply to by Mark Day (not verified)

I agree with you on the efficiency losses. I have opposed SUVs for this reason. I DO like a higher seating position and efficient packaging coupled with quiet tires.
The obvious solution is a tall station wagon. The Prius could be that if enlarged a bit with a better box on the back than the V.
The fact is that everyone likes wagons but want to look more "manly" with an SUV that postures its "strength" through its useless, efficiency robbing features.
I have driven recent RAV 4s and they are OK on the inside but not as roomy as they could be if the gave up some styling conceits in favor of practicality. The hood is annoying as it is so large it obscures the road for some distance ahead of the vehicle.

Dark May (not verified)    May 16, 2020 - 11:37AM

In reply to by Mark Day (not verified)

I agree, and stop packaging the JBL audio with only the upper trim levels. Offer it as a separate option like they have done in the past. Why not just make the front passenger seat fully adjustable as well?

Also, how can it be that they did not catch the tailgate sensor getting in the way of a hitch?

Robert Sheitz (not verified)    May 15, 2020 - 1:09PM

Is the 39 miles in EV at all speeds. I have three Toyota hybrids- Prius, Camry and Rav 4. 2013, 2012 & 2016.
All of them kick out of ev mode if I exceed 35 mph or go up an incline and need more power. I hoping the RAV4 prime will not be similar and maintain ev mode at all speeds and elevations.

Mark Day (not verified)    May 17, 2020 - 8:28AM

In reply to by Robert Sheitz (not verified)

R Sheltz , − Your information, regarding hybrid power, is most useful. I’ll be looking for the lack of power, in certain situations, on a Prime test drive. Also, curious as to the Prime's towing capacity. My RAV4 V6, with 4WD, tows 3,500 lbs.

Wilson Free (not verified)    May 30, 2020 - 2:26AM

In reply to by Robert Sheitz (not verified)

I drive the Prius prime and you can easily get up to 80 mph on electric. It switches to hybrid around then. I assume that the RAV4 prime will be the same, though with the beefed up electric motor it may have an even higher top speed for electric. That being said, the Subaru Crosstrek hybrid electric shuts off at higher than 35mph, which in my opinion is a waste of a plug-in. Also, electric range does tend to go down during freeway driving and alternatively up with stop and go traffic.

David (not verified)    May 15, 2020 - 4:20PM

Your article compares it to the hybrid with the advertised mpg however we all know that nobody has really gotten the 38-40mpg with the fuel tank issue. Nobody is getting that mpg from 2019-2020 models and people are getting less range than a regular gas version. Should clarify that in the article and the fact we don't know if the issue will also be present with the prime. Toyota knows about it and their response is to remove the range and gas tank info from the specs of the rav4 hybrid.

pikeviewer (not verified)    May 16, 2020 - 7:59PM

In reply to by David (not verified)

The tank issue affects range but not mpg. I and many others easily get over 40 mpg in most circumstances. My average over a year of ownership is 39 mpg. Also, Toyota still lists the tank capacity as 14.5, so i don't know where you get your info

mark (not verified)    May 18, 2020 - 5:16PM

In reply to by Jeff Pigott (not verified)

Expecting Prius mileage out of an SUV is naive. The weight, fat tires, Cd and frontal area all conspire to reduce efficiency. Physics just cannot be tricked.
OTOH , you look more manly to your neighbors than if you were driving a sissy Prius. ;)

John (not verified)    May 18, 2020 - 8:53PM

In reply to by pikeviewer (not verified)

As the mpg is calculated as an average over a period of driving time (greater full capacity) it does affect the mpg. Over a longer period of driving time between fill ups especially in the city is when you will see the highest and advertised mpg with a hybrid. Over a shorter driving time, the mpg is likely to be lower.

Pit (not verified)    May 15, 2020 - 5:52PM

Any news on whether the 2021 hybrids will have the fuel tank issue fixed? Both 2019 and 2020 hybrids are missing about a quarter of real world driving range due to fuel tank fault.

David (not verified)    May 15, 2020 - 7:55PM

I am interested in the Prime but I am hesitant to buy it until Toyota resolves the reported issues with the Hybrid's gas tank. I assume the Prime would use the same gas tank.

Jose Hernandez (not verified)    May 15, 2020 - 9:17PM

Add me to the list. I've been waiting to replace my 08 Highlander Sport for the last couple of years. Still rides great but looking to upgrade cause I plan on giving the 08 to my son who was scheduled to graduate end of this month high school. I like the HPs and I'll try consider the MPGs. My dog and me will be king of the road.

Jeff Pigott (not verified)    May 16, 2020 - 9:27PM

Wondering if the new 2021 Hybrid gas tank will be fixed as the 2020 will not fill up more than 10 gallons with no fixes yet. Maybe moving to no gas is the only option.

Cyndi Kamper (not verified)    September 17, 2020 - 9:04AM

What happens say I’m a a long distance vacation across our great United States & there are no gas stations that offer charging stations? Also, if I can locate a charging station, what type of approximate cost are we talking about?

Bill (not verified)    September 19, 2020 - 3:34PM

Toyota has thought of everything. It has has a gasoline engine that will go about 400 miles on a tank.