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Why the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid Could Break Records

An all-new 2021 RAV4 plug-in hybrid is on the way, and it promises to be the most powerful RAV4 ever. See how this could quickly become the most popular RAV4 to-date.

Toyota RAV4 was completely redesigned for the 2019 model year. It seems like just months ago this was first introduced. Dealerships are also now beginning to see their first 2020 RAV4 SUVs at their facilities. In the back of our minds, though, we know an all-new plug-in version is coming sooner than we think.

Prepare for 2021 RAV4 plug-in hybrid.

2021 RAV4 plug-in hybrid will be unique

This new Toyota RAV4 promises to be like no other. According to a recent press release from Toyota, “the new RAV4 plug-in hybrid will be celebrated by its spirited acceleration, nimble handling, and impeccable style.”

What does this mysterious teaser statement mean, though?

Most powerful RAV4 ever. Spirited acceleration. These are phrases that spark curiosity and excitement within the Toyota enthusiast community.

According to feedback from followers of my “toyotajeff” Toyota YouTube channel and my Torque News stories, people cannot wait to learn more.

Watch what people say about the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube for daily automotive and Toyota news analysis.

“Plug-in RAV4? Consider my mind blown!” said one reader JMindSpring.

2021 Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid silver sky metallic

“Toyota might have the winning formula here. If it has the power and the range (and if I can afford it), I’m already sold.” Stated Kyle.

Others were more skeptical, like viewer Tim. “Forget the hybrid. Bring back the RAV4 V6 Toyota!”

“Nothing was faster than my V6 RAV.” Stated viewer Kenny.

Interesting comments guys, which brings me to my next thought.

RAV4 plug-in hybrid more powerful than the V6?

There are many owners and fans of the Toyota RAV4 who remember driving the RAV4 V6 when it was still available. At the time this was the vehicle with the fastest 0-60 time in the entire Toyota lineup.

Buyers in 2012, for example, could choose a RAV4 with either a 4-cylinder or a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produced 269 horsepower. Many people want this level of power returned to the RAV4 they knew and loved.

Watch what makes 2019 RAV4 Hybrid the top-selling green car in USA and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube channel for daily thought-provoking automotive news analysis.

What if, however, this new 2021 RAV4 plug-in hybrid can exceed this power found in one of the fastest Toyotas of all time?

Most powerful RAV4. Ever.

Remember, one of the benefits of a hybrid is it will often produce more power and more low-end torque than its gasoline-equivalent.

Learn about the changes and updates to 2020 RAV4 Hybrid in my video review.

Look at the 2019 and 2020 RAV4 Hybrid, for example. The gasoline RAV4 delivers 203 horsepower, but the hybrid version gives drivers 219hp. Plus, it gets an amazing mpg and is a very good value.

With the proclamation that the 2021 RAV4 plug-in hybrid will be the most powerful version yet, we can assume it will produce more than 269 horsepower that was seen in the V6. How high will it go? Could it approach or even eclipse 300hp? We can only speculate for now.

November 20th is a big date for RAV4 plug-in hybrid

Although we have had a teaser first look at this new plug-in hybrid, it will be officially unveiled on November 20, 2019 at the Los Angeles Auto Show. That is only 13 days from today.

I will be looking and hoping to learn that this newest alternative fuel entry will deliver incredible acceleration and power not ever seen from a Toyota RAV4. I expect it will have an electric range that will surprise us. Plus, I hope it is affordable.

If these things occur, based on early consumer opinion, this 2021 RAV4 plug-in hybrid will be a winner in both public opinion and in sales.

Time for your thoughts on Toyota RAV4

The 2019 RAV4 is already America’s best-selling SUV, thanks in part to the incredibly popular RAV4 Hybrids.

We have learned Toyota is ramping up research and development on alternative fuel vehicles, including the beautiful 2021 Mirai. Where will the 2021 RAV4 plug-in hybrid fit into this mix?

What do you think about the RAV4? Do you own either gasoline or hybrid version now? Also, do you think you would consider a plug-in, and what criteria does it need for you to buy one?

Thanks for reading everyone. See you the next story where I am discussing 3 reasons why the 2020 Toyota Tacoma is superior to Ford Ranger.

Watch to learn more about the not-yet-released 2020 Highlander Hybrid Limited. Subscribe to Torque News YouTube channel.

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Bookmark Jeff Teague's Toyota News and Reviews at Torque News Toyota. Please subscribe to Jeff’s “Toyotajeff” YouTube channel for Toyota news, reviews and how-to videos. Follow Jeff on Facebook and Instagram. Twitter him @toyotajeff1 and tweet him tips for new stories.


Digitaldoc (not verified)    November 7, 2019 - 6:22PM

I am predicting that the new RAV4 PHEV will only have a few more HP than the current hybrid, say 225 HP or so. I really doubt it will best the ol' V-6 in the previous generation RAV4. I really wish that they would make a seriously more powerful RAV4, and have no doubt there would be a market for a 3.5 V-6 with 300 HP from the Camry, but Toyota won't do anything like this without a Lexus badge on it. I am sure it could be done as the Camry is available with a V-6, and the RAV4 is built off the same platform. I am pretty sure that I won't be plugging in my next SUV for just a few more HP, but 'to each, their own.'

MplsGeographer (not verified)    November 7, 2019 - 6:29PM

A plug in Hybrid RAV4 would be fantastic. I have a 2017 RAV4 Hybrid XLE and love the car, getting about 34 mpg in MN weather (AC summer and Heat in winter take their toll on mileage).
The new Subaru Crosstrek plug in Hybrid is interesting, but price creeps up past $36k and it's not available in most States, very frustrating.
If Toyota brought out this plugin hybrid, I'd be first in line, provided it isn't just a West coast Northeast only model!

PGreen5412 (not verified)    November 7, 2019 - 8:27PM

I have a Blueprint color 2019 Rav4 Hybrid Limited (Canada-built) with Winter Weather package and JBL Sound 11 Speaker system. I've had it for about a month (after waiting 2 months for delivery). The wait was well worth it. I've only driven it a little over 500 miles and have gotten 45 MPG in a mix of about 80% short trips, city type driving and balance highway. It's very comfortable, sound system is great, and acceleration is very good. I have no complaints so far.

Kathleen (not verified)    November 8, 2019 - 12:34AM

I’m waiting for the 2020 XSE I’ve put a deposit on but would love to get the PHEV. Dealer tells me the range as EV will be only approx 30 miles and that it will be sold only in CA. I hope he’s wrong.

Bringiiton (not verified)    November 8, 2019 - 6:43AM

Still oeni our 2011 RAV4 Sport V6...the power is awesome and I was excited with the 2019 models until... no power...if they could beat this power in theis new model..we might consider..the price points have jumped considerably over the past few years which makes me look at other options on the market...if they are touting most power...with small underwriting statng from a 4 cyclinder... zero interest...if not could be worth the wait.

Denise Nelson (not verified)    November 8, 2019 - 8:44AM

I have driven a Toyota Hybrid for 17 years, not about to have to worry about plugging a car in. Electricity is NOT clean and my car has plenty of power for even the most demanding driving situations.

DDS (not verified)    November 8, 2019 - 11:35AM

There is no way it will have more than 269hp, or even close. I'd say around 225 (remember, the new Highlander will have 240 so Toyota won't go past their flagship SUV). The new batt power will give it more torque so acceleration will be more brisk. Its not about power, but mileage. The power is the gravy, mileage comes first for Toyota.

noah arribas (not verified)    November 8, 2019 - 12:26PM

Its possible by most powerful they mean torque. the v6 had peak torque of 246 ft-lbs. I cannot find an official spec for torque on the hybrid but the PHEV could be close.

Doug (not verified)    November 8, 2019 - 2:14PM

I had the V6 until very recently. Best car I've ever owned, and the V6 made it so fun to drive. The only problem was fuel economy ... and my new RAV4 hybrid solves that (at the expense of power).

Here's my guess on the 2021 PHEV: 250 HP.

If I understand right the newest Prius and the Prius Prime share essentially the same drivetrain: the same gasoline engine and the same electric motors. For those that don't know, Toyota's hybrid system has two electric motors: one that acts as a generator and a starter for the gas engine (MG1), and one that acts as a drive motor and as a regenerative brake (MG2).

Apparently, the Prime also allows using MG1 to propel the vehicle while in EV mode. Without that you'd be stuck with an underpowered MG2 -- enough for low speed operation, but not for all-time use. But combined you get 91 HP from the two acting together. This is less than the sum of the power of the two motors (physical limitations to using MG1 as a drive motor, I'm guessing). It's also less than the 120 HP the hybrid system is able to produce in non-EV mode, so we see 120 system horsepower for both the Prius and the Prius Prime.

My assumption is that Toyota will be applying the same technology to the RAV4.

MG1 on the RAV4 is about twice the power as the Prius, 141 HP. Assuming MG2 is twice the power as well and the combined power is also double, that's 182 HP.

But the RAV4 has another trick up its sleeve: there's a third electric motor in the back, producing 67 HP. That puts the combined electrical power at 249 HP (which I'll round to 250), higher than what it can get in hybrid mode.

I assume they also need to beef up the electrical system so it can handle the higher power requirements, so there may be other limitations.

This won't be more powerful than the V6, and if I'm right that full power will only be available in EV mode. But the torque at low speed will be amazing, so I expect it will be as fun to drive anyway, with an amazing fuel economy. (The compromise is going to be cargo space: where are they going to put the battery?)

Michigan Doc (not verified)    February 1, 2020 - 9:51AM

I guardedly await with anticipation the testing of the 2021 RAV4 Hybrid. Really interested, but I was also interested int he 2019 RAV4, which disappointed with the noise and rough ride aspects. The 2019 was billed as the 'do all to end all' Toyota RAV 4. If the ride and noise problems are corrected to customer satisfaction, I may trade my 2019 Camry XSE V6 for the RAV4 for hauling reasons. Please, don't let me down Toyota.