Toyota long ago brought hybrids into prime time; and in more recent times, the word Prime refers to the plug-in versions of their hybrid vehicles. The latest to hit the streets is this 2021 RAV4 Prime.  

Starting with the RAV’s well-proven hybrid system, the 2.5-liter I4 gets a slight retune, before a larger 18.1-kWh lithium-ion battery is added. It’s packaged under the rear load floor without intruding on passenger space.  

This enables a great 42-miles of strictly EV driving before it reverts to the normal efficient full-hybrid operation. The most all-electric range we’ve seen from any PHEV utility yet. Charge times varies from 2½ to as much as 12-hours depending on what you’re plugged into and whether you upgrade to the optional 6.6-kW onboard charger.  

A side benefit is more power; 302-horsepower is the new combined total, compared to the 219–horsepower output of the standard 5th gen RAV4 Hybrid. That makes the RAV4 Prime not only the most efficient RAV ever with a 94-Combined MPGe rating, 38-Combined overall; but the quickest one as well, hitting 60 in just 5.7-seconds, faster than any other Toyotas with 4-doors.  

And that’s just the start of the extras you get with the Prime. All Primes come with all-wheel-drive, and due to its high performance nature, they’re available exclusively in sporty SE and XSE trim. So, interiors are spruced up with red accents; as well as lots of black or silver trim.  

Likewise exteriors are adorned with full LED lighting, a black diamond grille, body color lower body trim, silver painted front spoiler, rear spoiler, dual chrome exhaust tips, either 18 or 19-inch alloy wheels, and low-profile black roof rails.   

Cargo capacity is the only losing aspect of the Prime, and that only modestly. Down from the standard Hybrid’s 37.6 cubic-ft. to 33.5.

Available now, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime starts around $38,000.