Her + His Car Reviews

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE AWD

Our car reviews are innovative and interesting as we provide insightful and expert reviews from both Her + His perspectives.

Her: Anne Fleming, Car Buying Advocate, women-drivers.com
His: Don Hammonds, Writer, AutomobileJournal.com 

$49,831 $49,831
This 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is... well, prime, in so many ways, especially for those interested in a quicker, more responsive hybrid experience. The drivetrain has All-Wheel Drive delivering power to all wheels for safer, confident handling in inclement conditions, or, on any terrain. The transmission is Continuously Variable Transmission (CTV) and delivers a smoother and sleeker driving performance, as there are no gears shifting.

The engine is a 2.5L 4 cylinder, Plug-in Hybrid System with EV and HV modes and combines for a total of a powerful 302 net horsepower. We experienced plenty of get-up in this 5 seater SUV. Handling is quite responsive on any terrain. Breaking is exceptional, too. We found steering of this RAV4 model to be responsive and reactive to the hand. Acceleration was smooth in both the EV and the gas; there will be variations, however depending upon how one drives.
Let's put it this way. You won't be the last person to leave the stop light. The RAV4 Prime really moves, with little hint that it's a pretty heavy vehicle. It moves lightly and instantly when you hit the gas. Braking felt as though it needed a bit more pressure to react, but still got the job done well. Cornering and handling? No problem at all for me.
Fuel Economy
The RAV4 Prime XSE EV Plug-in has an EPA of 94 MPG equivalent in combined city and highway. This 2021 also has an all-electric driving range of 42 miles. Buyers save approximately $3,500 dollars in fuel over five years of ownership. Hold onto your hat....94 MPGe miles per gallon when using gasoline and electric power (MPGe is the measure used for electric vehicles) are all yours with the RAV4 Prime. If you are driving on gasoline only, the rating is 38 miles per gallon, and it takes about 2.6 gallons of gas to travel 100 miles.
The Car
The new 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE AWD is a breakout model. Specifically, from the outside in. No longer a boxy, in-line SUV, it's quite the contraire. The Prime's athletic, rugged and resilient lines with its contoured exterior give it a transformed look from its predecessors. Taking a page from the tried and true Prius, Toyota is looking to expand its demographics by incorporating a new design language and adding enhanced technology to elevate its audience.

The Prime delivers 40+ miles on electric power exclusively. To charge the battery with a 240 volt charging station takes about 4.5 hours, on average. If you only have a 120 volt charger, the model will take about 12 hours to complete. This is something that the owner will make part of their weekly (or as needed) practice, just like going to the gas station.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE AWD comes with a 6.6 kW on-board charger which is housed in the trunk of the vehicle. To charge the vehicle, plug the charging gun into the passenger side, lock it in, and the green light will go on. Note the charging port is on the passenger side, and the gas tank is on the driver's side, per normal.

This vehicle qualifies as an EV and can receive $7,500 in tax incentives. Talk to your car dealership, as well as to an accountant regarding specifics, as well as full deductions. Some states may offer additional incentives.

The towing capacity of the XSE is 2,500 pounds. Further, this trim line includes a full spare tire. Keep this in mind, as most 2021 and 2022 new vehicles do not have this feature, rather some, have the bubble tire. Having a full tire serves as a plus and benefit.
I've made no secret that the RAV4 is one of my favorite compact SUVs--and for many reasons.

It has personality and swagger, a good thing in my book. It has distinctiveness.

I still don't get the SUV craze, and I simply don't want to drive a box that looks like every other box on the street. And to be honest, no matter how many wonderful things they can do, the utility and the safety factors, I loathe just about all of them--except models from Cadillac, Lexus, Lincoln, Audi, Hyundai and Kia, and Mercedes.

It's obvious that except for the last two brands I mentioned, you now have to spend big bucks to get a good looking vehicle. So kudos to Toyota to offer a bit of style for the masses, and the RAV4 Prime does that well. Not a problem for the Ravin' RAV4 Prime!

But there are other reasons for my RAV4 admiration. First, they are absolutely rock solid to drive. They offer luxury car style comfort, they have impeccable interior design and materials, and they are easy to park, they are chock full of value, they hug the road, and for the most part, the instrument panel is a beautiful yet practical one, and I love that huge screen that was installed on my RAV4 Prime.

The RAV4 Prime is a new model for Toyota, and its main claim to fame is that it is an electric plug-in hybrid. That means that it can travel 42.6 miles running exclusively on electricity, and it also has all the high mileage virtues of hybrids.
Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Automatic High Beams, Road Sign Assist, LED Projector Headlights, Vertical LED Accent Lights.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, Eight (8) Airbags, Star Safety System, Anti-Theft System with Alarm, LATCH Lower Anchor and Tether for Children, Smart Key System on all Doors, Push Button Start.

Safety Connect and Remote Connect comes with One (1) Year Subscription. Service Connect comes with 10-Year Trial and connects customers with dealers.
The list of standard safety equipment is pretty extensive, including Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is on all RAV4 Hybrid models and includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, auto high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control.
Birdseye View Camera, Blindspot Monitor with Rear-Traffic Alert, Power Liftgate, 19" Five-Spoke Alloy Wheels with Gloss paint that are unique to this Mode, Panoramic Glass Roof, 9" Touchscreen, 11 JBL Speaker with Subwoofer and amplifier for outstanding sound system, Handsfree Bluetooth, USB Media Port, 4 USB Charge Ports, Wireless Smartphone Charging.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay Compatible, Sirius XM® Radio with Three-Month All Access Trial, Dual Zone Auto A/C with Rear Vents for customized temperature and comfort, SoftTex-Trimmed Seats with Sporty Red Accents and Stitching, Heated and Ventilated Front Seats, Lumbar on Driver's side to assist with Posture and Comfort, 8-Way Adjustable Power Driver's Seat, Adjustable Passenger, too - a real plus. Steering wheel with Paddle Shifters. Auto-Dimming, Heated Exterior and Rearview Mirrors with HomeLink Universal Transceiver.

10" Color Heads-Up Display with Speedometer/Navigation/ Hybrid System Indicator. Wi-Fi Connect with 2GB and a 3-Month Trial. Destination Assist comes with 1-Year Trial. Weather package included.
So let's take a trip to Prime World.

The five passenger, all-wheel drive RAV4 Prime comes in both SE and XSE variants for you to choose from. And yes, Toyota does offer a standard Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which also offers excellent mileage, and is considerably less costly than the Prime model. Your task is to decide if being able to drive 42 miles gasoline free matters to you. If you live in the city, and likely don't drive more than 40 miles or so a day at most, and thus not need gasoline often, the money you save is worth it.

But if you live in the suburbs, and you usually have long commutes, the case for buying the RAV4 Prime over the RAV4 Hybrid weakens considerably.

That's your choice. Okay. So what do you get for each model? Lots.

Standard equipment in the SE Prime version, will include a four-cylinder engine plus three hybrid electric motor-generators, which altogether put out a smoking' 302 horsepower; 18.1-kWh lithium-ion battery back, all-wheel drive; power liftgate (comes in handy because that hatch door can be mighty heavy); heated front seats, an eight-inch touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Of course, the XSE version has its own standard charms to loosen your wallet. Standard features include a sunroof, auto-dimming rearview mirror; two-tone black roof; a nine inch touchscreen; wireless charging pad; simulated leather upholstery, and interior ambient lighting.

To make things more fun, there are a number of optional equipment packages for you to choose from as well for your RAV4 Prime.

For a more complete description of standard and optional equipment, see your local Toyota dealer.
Aesthetics & Styling
The Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE exterior is a modern, two-tone beauty that is a combination of muscle and great hybrid performance. Accented with chrome and high gloss, this new plug-in hybrid is strapping.

The interior is just as modern; with rear-splitting seats, and striking red accent. What is refreshing to experience, are the vast window cuts-outs in the back and sides of the vehicle that eliminate blind spots. The XSE has 33 cubic feet of packing space behind the back seats, and can expand to 63 plus cubic ft. once those seats are folded flush - no problem road tripping with this vehicle. The power outlet in the cargo/trunk area is something to note - it's a 1500 watt outlet which is quite versatile and powerful for those campers, or needing more functionality with electronics.

Also well-designed are the dash and console. Amenities like the air vents are well placed allowing driver and passengers alike to get their fair share of heat and/or A/C distribution.

Note that the rear liftgate has a jam protector. Mudguards are included in the XSE, as well as carpet floor mats. Roof rack crossbar adds to the distinctive styling.
I'll limit my remarks about styling and aesthetics to the interior, since you have read how crazy I am about the exterior styling.

You rarely will find the level of materials, quality, and presentation that you see in the RAV4 Prime in many other competitors in its field.

This is luxury car level stuff, put together impeccably for your pleasure. And the seats are also quite comfortable--and I suspect--durable.

The back seat has plenty of room, so you definitely won't have a problem in that area. All in all, the RAV 4 as a group of models has really grown up, matured both inside and outside, and now stands right up there in the top level of competing models. You will have to pay a lot more for an compact SUV before you will even come close to what the RAV4 offers.
Three Year, 36,000 Mile Bumper to Bumper Warranty. Five Year, 60,000 Powertrain Warranty. Three year, 36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty.