It only takes one look at the spec sheet for the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime to pique my interest. This compact crossover has a plug-in hybrid powertrain, 302 horsepower, 42 miles of all-electric range, all-wheel drive and a starting price under $40,000. Color me intrigued.
More than anything, what impresses me right away is that this RAV4 is quick. A 134-kilowatt electric motor sends 199 pound-feet of torque to the front axle, while a smaller, 40-kW motor pushes 89 lb-ft to the rear. Combined with a 2.5-liter gas engine, Toyota rates the RAV4 Prime's net output at 302 hp, resulting in a 5.7-second 0-to-60-mph sprint. That's sports car territory.
Of course, once you've launched the RAV4 Prime, the fun really fades. The steering is numb, the suspension is tuned for comfort above all and the brakes are kind of mushy and hard to modulate. The drone of the continuously variable transmission isn't exactly enjoyable, either.
The Good ~ Plenty of EV range for commuting ~ Quick acceleration ~ Lots of standard driving aids
The Bad ~ Sloppy handling ~ Fast-charging option is pricey ~ Terrible back-up camera resolution
The Bottom Line The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is one of the best, most well-rounded hybrid crossovers on sale today.
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