Behind the Wheel

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Review: The RAV4 you should be buying but probably can't get

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is a big step ahead for the RAV4 brand.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota RAV4 is not a great SUV. It is perfect suitable and serviceable as a daily driver-slash-mommy hauler. That doesn't make it great. If it were great, its seats would be more comfortable, its engine would be more powerful, and less road noise would be passed into the cabin. Oh, and that terrible grinding noise that the RAV4 Hybrid makes when it's running in EV mode would be changed to something that doesn't sound like the car is malfunctioning.

That being said, there are some excellent things about the RAV4. It has a long list of standard features, including safety technology, that puts most other automakers with entries in the compact SUV category to shame. The RAV is fuel-efficient in every variant and comes with gobs of cargo space. It's also insanely reliable.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime The RAV4 Prime has a few distinguishing exterior features but is mostly the same as the traditional RAV4.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Toyota now makes the SUV in three variants: the gasoline-only RAV4, the traditional hybrid RAV4 Hybrid, and the RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). The RAV4 Prime is designed to be the company's most fuel-efficient and also highest-performing RAV4. It achieves said goal in spades.

The2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that generate a combined 302 horsepower. That's 99 more horsepower than the RAV4 and 83 more than the RAV4 Hybrid. Sure, the RAV4 Prime is heavier due to its 18.1-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, but that stored up power waiting for the touch of the accelerator makes the RAV4 Prime downright peppy off the line.

It delivers 42 miles of all-electric range and 600 miles of overall range. This is good for 94 MPGe and 38 mpg (when running as a traditional hybrid). It is nearly as fuel-efficient as the Ford Escape PHEV, the leader in the segment.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime The RAV4 Prime is a plug-in hybrid, which means it runs on both gasoline and battery power.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

That all-electric range means that the RAV4 Prime runs its internal combustion engine less often. That's a good thing. It means less engine noise is passed onto the cabin. It also makes the drive experience more fun (a feature vehicles in the segment are frequently lacking), even when using the SUV as a more traditional hybrid and eschewing the plug-in feature, which limits the amount of time it can run on all-electric mode.

But at its core, the RAV4 Prime can't escape its roots. Toyota hasn't changed the interior of the RAV4 much with the Prime model. It contains the same hardy surfaces and rubberized elements that make the RAV4 so livable for families. There's isn't much in the way of cheapness-for-the-sake-of-lightweighting like what is in the Prius, and that's a good thing.

However, the seats remain uncomfortable and the 8-inch infotainment touch screen is starting to look outdated compared to what the competition offers. There's likely a fix coming for this, perhaps for the 2023 model year as the RAV4 nears its generational midpoint.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime The RAV4's interior isn't as plush as what you'll find in Nissans and Mazdas.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

But, most people won't be as fixated on the interior as they are on the drive. And, the drive is splendid - genuinely enjoyable. I just wish for the $40,000-ish price tag it was nicer to be in while driving.

But don't worry about the price. You provably can't buy one anyway. Due to battery production constraints, the supply of the RAV4 Prime is VERY limited. However, if you do find one available, and you're in the market for the RAV4, do take it for a spin. You'll probably be surprised with how much you like it.

Trending News

Nuts & Bolts

 
 

This 1963 Aston Martin DB4 Series 5 is one of one.

Photo courtesy of Silverstone Auctions

Three vintage Aston Martins will be part of the first Silverstone Auctions sale of the year on March 5-6, 2021. The three models represent some of the rarest Astons in the world. Let's take a closer look.

1963 Aston Martin DB4 Series 5

This car (seen above at the top of the page) is one of just 50 Series 5 DB4 saloons built prior to the arrival of the DB5, and it was one of the last ones off the line. The left-hand drive car retains its original engine and gearbox, and is finished in its original specification of Aegean Blue over White Gold.

The car is well-traveled. It was originally delivered new to California and comes to its new owner with an Aston Martin Assured Provenance document.

If it looks familiar, Bond fans, that's because it was a DB4 Series 5 Vantage that was used in filming "Goldfinger".

1970 Aston Martin DB6 Mk2 Vantage

1970 Aston Martin DB6 Mk2 Vantage

Photo courtesy of Silverstone Auctions

This is one of only 71 DB6 Mk2s that was equipped with the Vantage engine straight from the factory when new. Making it more rare is the fact that it is a right-hand drive saloon with a factory fitted manual gearbox. Those factors make it a one of one.

This chassis has been presented in multiple concours, had several successes with the Aston Martin Owners Club, and has undergone a significant engine overhaul by Aston Martin Works. It's finished in British Racing Green.

1969 Aston Martin DB6 Mk2

1969 Aston Martin DB6 Mk2

Photo courtesy of Silverstone Auctions

Lots of special attention courtesy of Aston Martin Works has made this 1969 DB6 a model worth taking a second look at for enthusiasts looking to invest. A history file of the car detailing all the work done includes notes regarding a full interior retrim, which was conducted at the same factory where the car was originally built.

The model was originally delivered new to Halesowen in October 1969. The car's original Celeste Blue metallic paint job was accompanied by a dark blue Connolly hide interior (bodywork is now finished in dark blue). It was supplied with the optional two front seat belts when new.

Trending News

 
 

The new Porsche Boxster 25 years celebrates the anniversary of the convertible's debut.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Twenty eight years ago, a convertible concept car made its debut at the 1993 Detroit Motor Show. The production version of that car launched in 1996 with hardly any changes. It was the Porsche Boxster. Now it its fourth generation, Porsche has sold more than 357,000 of the coupes.

To commemorate the anniversary, Porsche is selling the Boxster 25 years, a limited edition model that takes design notes from the original Boxster and applies them to the current edition. All Boxster 25 years models are based on the Boxster GTS.

Porsche Boxster 25 Years

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The model features a copper-like shimmering brown Neodyme paint color in the front apron, side air intakes with mono bar, lettering, and two-tone 20-inch alloy wheels. The original car was colored GT Silver Metallic and the special edition will be offered in that paint color as well as Deep Black Metallic and Carrara White Metallic.

Porsche script is featured own the fuel filler cap and there are high-gloss tailpipes on the car's sport exhaust system. The windscreen surround is finished in a contrasting black color.

The Bordeaux leather interior sits below a red fabric convertible top that bears the Boxster 25 lettering. Both are also available in black. The car's cabin also has an interior package in Aluminum, 14-way electrically adjustable sports seats, door sill trims with "Boxster 25" lettering, and the heated GT multifunction sports leather steering wheel.

Each model is powered by a 4.0-liter flat-six engine that has a top speed of 182 mph. There's a PDK gearbox and standard Sport Chrono package, Porsche Active Suspension Management sports suspension, and Porsche Torque Vectoring with mechanical limited-slip differential.

The Boxster 25 years is available to order now and will roll into dealerships from the end of March 2021. Just 1,250 units will be allocated.

Trending News