The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Plug-In Packs 302 Scintillating HP

It's almost like it's a RAV4 muscle car or something.

Toyota teased its 2021 RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid as the most powerful version ever of the popular SUV—and it wasn't kidding, as the PHEV boasts 302 horsepower, a not insignificant amount of muscle. For those of you keeping score, that's just four horses shy of the Honda Civic Type R's 2.0-liter turbo engine. Toyota claims the RAV4 Prime is good for a 5.8-second zero-to-60-mph sprint, second-quickest in the brand's lineup, and an electric-only range of 39 miles on a full charge. The automaker estimates it will post a 90 MPGe combined fuel-economy score when it goes on sale in summer 2020.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime features a "differently" tuned version of the standard RAV4 hybrid's 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle inlin-four gas engine, which alone contributes 176 horses (same as the standard hybrid) and 168 lb-ft of torque. The electrified portion of the drivetrain, which includes a newly developed high-capacity lithium-ion battery with a booster converter, helps the Prime end up at its 302-hp number. The battery pack is mounted under the floor, preserving interior space.

The RAV4 Prime comes with the same version of on-demand AWD as the RAV4 hybrid, with a separate rear-mounted electric motor that powers the back wheels when traction demands dictate. The system also switches from FWD to AWD "proactively" at step-off, and is further touted as reducing understeer. In addition, a driver-activated Trail mode brakes a spinning wheel and sends the torque to the wheel on the ground.

The plug-in RAV4 is something of a sporty sport-utility flagship for Toyota, and is equipped with a sport-tuned suspension—and it will launch in the sporty SE and XSE trim levels. (That's a lot of sport in one sentence.) Toyota sees the RAV4 Prime as "critical to an overall electrification strategy" consisting of hybrids, PHEVs, electric vehicles, and fuel-cell electric vehicles like the new Mirai sedan.

The Toyota RAV4 Prime SE will come with standard heated front seats, an eight-way power driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, a 7.0-inch multi-information display, blind-spot monitoring, a leather-covered steering wheel and shift knob, a power tailgate, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Amazon Alexa, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay compatibility. A Weather & Moonroof package will bring a sunroof, a heated steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, a windshield-wiper de-icer element, and rain-sensing wipers.

The RAV4 Prime XSE gets a two-tone paint job with black roof, 19-inch wheels, vertical LED accent lights, and optional swiveling headlamps with auto-leveling. Inside, the XSE will have the first paddle shifters ever available in the RAV4, a sunroof, SofTex synthetic leather upholstery, wireless smartphone charging, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated garage-door opener, and a 9.0-inch AudioPlus touchscreen. An optional Premium Audio system comes with upgraded navigation and JBL speakers.

Phew—that's a lot of stuff. And yet there's more. Write a bigger check to add the XSE's Premium package that includes the above premium audio stuff, plus such goodies as ventilatedfront seats, a head-up display (another first for this model), heated rear outboard seats, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, a digital rearview mirror, a memory driver's seat, a four-way power front passenger's seat, smart entry system, a kick-type power tailgate, and a 360-degree surround camera view. No pricing is available yet, though with this type of powertrain and equipment, the RAV4 Prime should sticker for well into the $30Ks. The expected active and passive safety technology systems are also present and accounted for.

This is not your hippie mom's '96 RAV4 two-door, that's for sure.

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