Until now, the Hybrid was our clear favorite in the popular Toyota RAV4 lineup. Not only is it much more fuel efficient than the regular RAV4, it also offers a smoother ride. Now Toyota is rolling out another compelling entry: a plug-in hybrid RAV4. Dubbed the RAV4 Prime, this model has clear advantages and disadvantages compared with the RAV4 Hybrid. So which one should you buy?
5 Reasons to Buy the Toyota RAV4 Prime
1. You want to travel far distances on electric power alone.
Maybe you have a short commute to work and you want to get to and from the office without using a drop of gasoline. If that’s the case, the RAV4 Prime fits the bill. Toyota estimates the plug-in hybrid can travel 42 miles on pure electric power. Total driving range is projected to be 600 miles when the gas engine kicks in.
2. You want the most high-end features available.
There are a few features available on the RAV4 Prime that you can’t get on the RAV4 Hybrid. If you opt for the Premium package on the top XSE trim, you receive a 10-inch color head-up display. Other upgrades exclusive to Prime include 19-inch wheels and a 9.0-inch touchscreen, both standard on the XSE. The biggest wheels you can get on a RAV4 Hybrid are 18-inchers, and the biggest touchscreen measures 8.0 inches.
3. You want complete freedom to use the carpool lane.
Some states allow drivers of plug-in hybrid vehicles—but not traditional hybrids—to use the carpool lane regardless of the number of occupants. If that’s the case in your state, you may end up saving a lot of time in traffic by choosing the RAV4 Prime.
4. Fuel economy is priority #1.
The RAV4 Hybrid is very efficient, achieving 41/38/40 mpg city/highway/combined. But the RAV4 Prime takes it up a notch with rating of 94 mpge (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent). This metric represents the number of miles a vehicle can travel using a quantity of alternative fuel with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline and takes into account the distance the vehicle is able to drive on electric power only before any gasoline is burned.
5. You want to tow more.
If you’ll rest more comfortably knowing you can tow more, you may want to consider the plug-in. The RAV4 Prime can tow up to 2,500 pounds, compared to 1,750 pounds for the RAV4 Hybrid.
5 Reasons to Buy the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
1. You don’t have access to an EV charger.
The ability to drive on pure electricity is a major selling point for the RAV4 Prime, but you can’t really enjoy this benefit unless you have reliable access to an EV charger. If your home or workplace has an EV charger, or maybe if you live extremely close to a public station, you’re in the clear. But if not, why pay extra for a feature you’ll rarely use?
2. You want to maximize cargo space.
Granted, both models have a spacious cargo area, but the RAV4 Hybrid offers slightly more room for your gear. It boasts 37.6 cubic feet behind the second row, compared to 33.5 cubic feet in the RAV4 Prime. With the second row folded, the RAV4 Hybrid has 69.8 cubic feet of space instead of 63.2 cubic feet.
3. You want more color choices.
The RAV4 Hybrid offers 13 exterior color options, compared to 11 for the RAV4 Prime. Colors that are missing from the Prime lineup include a bluish-greenish-gray hue called Lunar Rock, and a bright blue called Blue Flame. RAV4 Prime comes in an exclusive Supersonic Red color, but RAV4 Hybrid offers a similar color called Ruby Flare Pearl. Among the color options available on both models are two-tone paint jobs that feature a black roof.
RAV4 Hybrid buyers will enjoy more interior color choices, too. Gray, black, and tan seats are available, and depending on which you choose, you can get blue or brown stitching. All RAV4 Prime models come with black seats and red stitching.
4. You’d like to spend less at the dealership.
At the end of the day, most people have a budget for their new vehicle. Prices for the RAV4 Hybrid range from $29,470 for the base LE trim to $38,000 for the Limited. You’ll spend quite a bit more for the base RAV4 Prime SE, which starts at $39,220 and is admittedly well contented. The top XSE trim is even more expensive at $42,545. Keep in mind that the RAV4 Prime is expected to be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit and other state credits, but these are post-purchase incentives.
5. You prefer to live plug-free.
There’s something to be said for keeping things simple. The RAV4 Hybrid can travel 580 miles on a tank of gas that takes minutes to fill up, and you won’t feel the pressure to plug in. The RAV4 Prime takes 12 hours to charge with the standard 120V home charging cable; you have to upgrade your equipment for faster charging.
Toyota RAV4 Prime vs. RAV4 Hybrid
Toyota RAV4 Prime:
• Can travel 42 miles on electricity alone
• Exclusive high-end features
• Solo carpool lane access in some states
• Better fuel economy
• More towing capability
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid:
• Don’t need to buy or live near an EV charger
• More cargo space
• More color choices
• Lower starting price
• Simpler and faster to refuel
The post Toyota RAV4 Prime vs. RAV4 Hybrid: 5 Reasons to Splurge on the Prime and 5 More to Get the Hybrid appeared first on MotorTrend.