Toyota RAV4 gets an upgrade
The fifth-generation Toyota RAV4, on the market for barely a year, is going more places than it has ever gone before. The arrival of the first-ever RAV4 TRD Off-Road model was announced earlier this year, and today, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota debuts a new premium, fun-to-drive RAV4 performance model with an estimated 225kW, advanced all-wheel drive, sport-tuned suspension and exclusive design features.
It just happens to also be the first-ever RAV4 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). And so, in addition to an ability to do 0-100km/h in a projected 5.8 seconds, which is the second quickest acceleration time in the Toyota lineup, it can drive an estimated 39 miles on battery alone on a single charge, which is the highest EV range of any PHEV SUV on the market. The RAV4 Prime also has a manufacturer-estimated 90 combined MPGe. Welcome to a new chapter of Toyota SUV performance.
The Toyota RAV4 Prime, a 2021 model that will arrive in 2020, breaks ground as the most powerful and quickest RAV4 ever, while also being the most fuel-efficient.
The 2021 RAV4 Prime will be available in SE and XSE grades, both emphasising athletic on-road performance and premium comfort and style. With its plug-in hybrid technology advancing, Toyota sees such vehicles as critical to an overall electrification strategy that will also include standard hybrids and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), along with fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) like the second-generation Mirai unveiled in October.
The RAV4 Prime amplifies both performance and efficiency, reflecting Toyota's 20+ years of hybrid vehicle leadership. With more powerful motor-generators, a newly developed high-capacity Lithium-Ion battery and a booster converter, the 2021 RAV4 Prime yields 63 kW jump in total system output over the RAV4 Hybrid and has the most power in its segment.
The resulting boost in performance is striking: Toyota projects 0-100km/h acceleration in 5.8 seconds which is quicker than the RAV4 Hybrid (7.8 sec) and in a league with luxury/performance SUVs that come nowhere near this Toyota's remarkable fuel economy. And, notably, the RAV4 Prime uses regular-grade petrol – just not much of it.
A comparison with an older RAV4 offers a vivid illustration of the march of technology. The 2006-2012 RAV4 offered an optional 2001kW, 3.5-litre V6 engine that reached 0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds, which is a half-second slower than the RAV4 Prime. And, that model's 21 combined MPG fuel economy rating simply pales in comparison.
Sporty and Sportier
Toyota engineered the 2021 RAV4 Prime for the performance-oriented driver and is therefore offering it in the sporty SE and XSE grades. The SE grade is new for the fifth-generation RAV4 Prime, and the XSE is currently exclusive to the RAV4 Hybrid. The SE flaunts its sporty attitude with 18” painted and machined alloy wheels and an exclusive front grille design and front lower spoiler. Piano black exterior accents and a painted grille/diffuser complete the premium look.
The SE's equipment is quite comprehensive, with standard heated front seats, 8-way power driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, 7” Multi-Information Display, Blind Spot Monitor, a leather steering wheel and shift knob, power liftgate, and Audio with 8” touch-screen and Amazon Alexa, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The available Weather & Moonroof Package lets in the sun, moon and stars while keeping the cold at bay with a heated steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, and windshield wiper de-icer, while rain-sensing windshield wipers add to convenience.
As on the current RAV4 Hybrid XSE, the Prime version of this grade stands apart with a two-tone exterior paint scheme pairing a black roof with select colours, including the striking new-to-RAV4 Supersonic Red. Exclusive 19” alloy wheels, the largest ever offered on a hybrid RAV4, have a unique two-tone design. Vertical LED accent lights give the XSE a distinct look, while the optional Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS) with headlamp auto-leveling partially aims the beams into turns as the driver steers.
Inside, XSE steps up the sport, luxury and tech with RAV4's first-ever paddle shifters, along with moonroof, unique SofTex synthetic leather seat surfaces, wireless smartphone charging, ambient lighting, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with integrated garage door opener and the largest multimedia screen in any RAV4 ever. The standard Audio Plus system comes with a 9” touch-screen and there is an available Premium Audio that includes Dynamic Navigation and JBL speaker system.
An available Premium Package pushes the RAV4 Prime XSE further with Premium Audio with Dynamic Navigation and JBL speakers, perforated and ventilated SofTex front seats, RAV4's first head-up display, heated rear SofTex outboard seats, heated steering wheel, panoramic moonroof, digital rear-view mirror, memory driver's seat, 4-way power passenger seat, 5-door SmartKey system, kick-type power rear liftgate, Bird's Eye View Monitor and yes, more.
The RAV4 Prime employs the same version of Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive (AWD) as the RAV4 Hybrid. In both models, a separate rear-mounted electric motor powers the rear wheels when needed, including proactively on acceleration startup and also in reduced-traction conditions.
The AWD system also reduces understeer during cornering for enhanced steering stability. Off-pavement, AWD enhances hill-climbing performance. A driver-selectable trail mode makes it possible to get unstuck by braking a spinning wheel and sending torque to the grounding wheel.
With available paddle shifters, the driver can "downshift" to increase the regenerative braking in steps, which fosters greater control when driving in hilly areas, for example.
As on the RAV4 Hybrid, the innovative Predictive Efficient Drive feature acts like an invisible "hyper-miler" co-driver. Using the available navigation system, Predictive Efficient Drive essentially reads the road and learns driver patterns to optimise hybrid battery charging and discharging operations based on driving conditions. The system accumulates data as the vehicle is driven and "remembers" road features such as hills and stoplights and adjusts the hybrid powertrain operation to maximize efficiency.
The RAV4 Prime has not been confirmed for the South African market. The New Generation RAV4 is, however, available in three grades. The GX grade is offered in manual and CVT variants (both front-wheel drive), the new GX-R grade exclusively in 2.0-litre CVT all-wheel drive format and finally both 2.0-litre CVT front-wheel drive and 2.5 8AT all-wheel drive are available in VX guise.
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