2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime Pros:
– Remains a rare PHEV worth the investment.
– Its 68-km range is realistic in most circumstances.
– Stylish, spacious, and efficient.
2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime Cons:
– Waiting two or three years to pay at least $50,000 for a PHEV is pointless.
The Toyota RAV4 Prime is not a vehicle lacking in much. The proof is that, while it comes with an inordinately long waiting list, and the automaker’s apparent inability to keep up with demand, the RAV4 Prime offers nearly-unrivalled performance that may well justify an inordinate amount of patience. But it doesn’t.
One of the RAV4 Prime’s most eye-catching features is its powertrain. With an impressive 302 hp, the RAV4 Prime has all the power needed for a real-world sport utility vehicle (SUV) to get around, loaded with people and gear. What’s more, its real-world electric range of 68 km, coupled with the legendary fuel economy of Toyota hybrids, makes it an attractive choice for environmentally conscious drivers.
Battery highs and lows
Moreover, the Prime’s driving experience is, for a lack of a better word, good. Despite the extra weight of the 18.1 kW battery, driving the RAV4 Prime remains pleasant. The addition of the battery in no way hinders normal driving dynamics, and the vehicle remains responsive and balanced, offering a smooth and fluid drive. Even though output numbers suggest this SUV could be a sporty-type vehicle, exploring apexes, should you be into this kind of stuff, will reveal the vehicle’s tendency towards understeering.
The main reason for opting for this SUV is actual fuel efficiency. Toyota estimates that the SUV will consume on average 6.0L/100km thanks to the battery and its EV range. But guess what? That’s the same estimated figure for the Hybrid version. The explanation? About 600 lbs worth of batteries – have I mentioned the batteries, and the weight? As well, consider that you must pay $10,000 more for the SE Prime over the SE Hybrid (partially negated by provincial and federal incentives depending on where you live). The base RAV4 LE Hybrid is $15,000 less expensive if it’s really about efficiency.
Worth the wait?
However, one of the major concerns for potential buyers of the RAV4 Prime is the long wait, often more than two years. The appeal of buying a new vehicle that will already be considered old on the delivery date is disconcerting and counter intuitive. If you’re prepared to fork out between $50,000 and $60,000 and wait a few years for a vehicle, it might be tempting to turn to a more modern, all-electric vehicle. It’s a decision that requires some thought. For many, overall range is the talking point. Consider that an average EV will offer close to 500 km of range in two years’ time (with a stronger public charging infrastructure) and your typical daily commutes. And think some more you should as it’s likely that PHEVs will drop considerably in resale value over the next five years or so. As such, take delivery in 2025 and who knows what your $60k+ PHEV will be worth two years later.
Here’s what I’ve come up with as time comparison – it amused the neighbors when they asked about the Prime: If you place an order today for a new Ferrari and a RAV4 Prime, there’s a good chance you’ll take delivery of your $400,000+ Italian supercar before you get your Japanese plug-in hybrid SUV.
Yet the RAV4 Prime still has a lot to offer. The styling is undeniably appealing, combining modern aesthetics with plenty of rugged cladding for that oh-so desirable tough-ish SUV look. What’s more, the RAV4 Prime offers more than generous interior space, roomy enough for the average family. It offers comfort and practicality, while maintaining a high level of performance.
The Toyota RAV4 Prime is a plug-in hybrid SUV that offers a lot in terms of power, fuel efficiency, style and space. While the long wait may discourage some, those willing to wait will find a vehicle that offers an attractive balance between performance and sustainability. And while it has its shortcomings, including known corrosion problems and a long delivery time, the RAV4 Prime remains a solid choice for those insisting on a plug-in hybrid vehicle.