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Toyota’s perennially popular RAV4 SUV is a high seller as individuals continue to snap up SUVs, and a plug-in-hybrid version of the latest mannequin is proving certainly one of this year’s hottest commodities. Much has been written about the new RAV4 Prime’s enjoyable-to-drive quotient, as it’s one of many quickest, most powerful mainstream Toyota products the model has ever put out; certainly, with a manufacturer-estimated 0-60-mph time of 5.7 seconds, it’s the quickest four-door product to wear a Toyota badge immediately. And whereas the thought of a enjoyable-to-drive hybrid SUV might sound like a little bit of a contradiction, right here it is – replete with 302 system horsepower and standard all-wheel drive.
However what if you’re extra interested in the RAV4 Prime’s skills as an electric automobile or hybrid than you might be in its stoplight drag-racing avenue cred? We put a test car by a mix of metropolis and highway in southeast Michigan to seek out out.
Related: 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Plug-in Hybrid Primed for Buy Below $40,000
The Prime is rated by the EPA to get forty two miles of electric-only range before its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine kicks in to assist it alongside to a 600-mile total overall vary. Operated normally, it will get an EPA gasoline-effectivity score of ninety four mpg-equivalent and 38 mpg mixed on gasoline once you run by means of the electric-only vary. That combined rating roughly matches an ordinary RAV4 Hybrid’s EPA mileage (40 mpg combined), and it bests considerably the standard RAV4’s combined rating of (28-30 mpg).
Key to the Prime is an even bigger lithium-ion battery pack, a hefty 18.1-kilowatt-hour unit that permits the RAV4 Prime to function in pure EV mode so much longer than a typical RAV4 Hybrid. The thought behind a PHEV is that you may plug it in at residence overnight, then commute to and from work on pure electric power, reserving the gasoline engine for times when it’s most relevant (like on a highway drive) or while you need to go farther than simply to work and back. With most Americans’ commutes coming in at 20 miles or less every means (at the least, before the pandemic began and we still commuted), you could theoretically benefit from the overwhelming majority of your drives in an electric car – but still take your RAV4 Prime on a straightforward cross-nation journey with out worrying where and the way to charge it.
The standard route I take advantage of for a plug-in hybrid electric automobile is a round trip from Ann Arbor, Mich., east to Dearborn, Mich., and again. It’s a mix of cease-and-go city driving and higher speeds on a four-lane divided highway. The air conditioning is off in this occasion, with windows up, tires correctly filled, most regeneration setting engaged (if present), and driving model relaxed and common – not hypermiling, but not aggressive, both.
The aim is to see how far the automobile can go on electric power, which is to say the gap it will get in a devoted EV mode before the batteries are drained and the gasoline engine powers up. It requires a gradual foot to do this, as many plug-in hybrid autos with fuel engines will use those engines when you exceed a certain velocity or demand a certain charge of acceleration past what the electric motor itself can provide. In the RAV4’s case, nevertheless, that’s much less of an issue: If in case you have it in EV mode, it would keep there even when you actually dig into the accelerator.
My check results confirmed the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid was ready to attain 42.7 miles on pure EV energy alone, which is an astonishing match to its EPA ranking disregarding rounding. It additionally exceeds the 39 miles of range that the Prime’s trip pc mentioned it might ship, although that prediction also factors in earlier drivers’ conduct, and it’s distinctly doable different automotive journalists who drove the automobile earlier than me most well-liked to discover the Prime’s efficiency chops as a substitute of its effectivity.
Toward that finish, I can indeed attest that the Prime is loads of fun to drive, with formidable acceleration on faucet, but it’s mitigated considerably by the SUV’s appreciable weight. The Prime shouldn’t be a sports automobile, nor will anyone consider it a proper efficiency vehicle, however it’s positively extra entertaining than most PHEV compact SUVs. One notable absence: Toyota once provided a “B” setting for its constantly variable-fashion automated transmissions in hybrid fashions that boosted regenerative braking. car4life is not present. The truth is, if there’s a method to spice up the Prime’s regenerative braking, Toyota has hidden it, as I was merely unable to find such a setting. (We asked Toyota, but two spokespeople did not instantly respond.)
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Overall, the brand new 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime delivered its rated EV range as promised, whereas still providing decent acceleration with no requirement to ease off on the accelerator or your desired cruising speeds to maintain efficiency. It’s quiet, snug and spacious, with its hybrid programs not impeding the interior house like plug-ins with large batteries as soon as did. For the right buyer with access to charging at dwelling or work – however somebody who isn’t fairly ready to take the EV plunge just yet – the RAV4 Prime might be an attention-grabbing various to a full electric automobile.