There's no such thing as a free ride. While automakers have done well to integrate the cost of fancy new features that are slowly growing standard (like active and passive safety systems), new technology often carries a higher price that will, in one way or another, eventually affect the consumer. That's why it's good to see that the newbarely pushes its way above the average new-car transaction price.
Toyota on Friday announced the starting price for the 2021 RAV4 Prime, which will be available in two trims, the base SE and the fancier XSE. The SE trim will start at $39,220, including the mandatory $1,120 destination charge, which is only a couple grand above the average price people pay for a new car.
Both cars utilize the same powertrain, which combines a 2.5-liter, Atkinson-cycle I4 gas engine with two electric motors for a combined 302 horsepower. One of those electric motors powers the rear axle by itself, conferring the RAV4 Prime with all-wheel drive, much in the same way Toyota gave AWD to the Prius. Both trims also pack Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, a driver-assistance package that includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and lane-keeping assist.
The RAV4 Prime's SE trim might be base, but it's still pretty well equipped for the price. Standard kit on the outside includes 18-inch alloy wheels, a special grille and black exterior accents. Inside, there's heated front seats, a power driver's seat, a power liftgate and a 3-kilowatt onboard charger. The de facto infotainment screen measures 8 inches, and it includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The sole options package on offer costs $1,665 and adds a moonroof, a heated steering wheel, heated outboard rear seats and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
The higher grade, XSE, carries a post-destination price of $42,545. Outside, two-tone paint becomes available, and the wheels grow an inch to 19 -- the largest rollers ever slapped on a RAV4, unless you count all the janky rides at Hot Import Nights. This level also picks up a standard moonroof, synthetic-leather-trimmed seats, wireless device charge, ambient lighting and a 9-inch screen on the dash.
Moving to the more expensive trim also opens up more options packages. Drop $815 and you get a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and rain-sensing wipers. Plunk down $2,435 to add a JBL sound system and embedded, connected navigation, in addition to the first package's contents. If you produce $5,760, though, you get everything mentioned above, plus a 6.6-kW charger, a digital rearview mirror, a panoramic moonroof, surround-view cameras, four-door keyless entry, ventilated front seats, parking sensors and a head-up display. That also pushes you to the doorstep of $50,000, but hey, features cost money.
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime lands at dealers this summer. If you're interested, I'd also recommend checking to see whether or not this plug-in hybrid makes you eligible for federal- or state-level tax incentives.