2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime Review: A Plug-In Hybrid SUV That Gets Almost Everything Right
2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime Review Highlights:
- Price: $43,090 – $46,960
- Pros: The Toyota RAV4 Prime ups the ante on the regular RAV4 Hybrid with more power and all-electric range.
- Cons: The current RAV4 body style is showing is getting a little long in the tooth, and its suspension may be a little stiff for some drivers.
The Toyota RAV4 SUV has been on the market since the mid-90s and has grown in size and popularity ever since. In 2016, Toyota released the RAV4 Hybrid model and improved its performance and efficiency as the years went on. In 2021, the Toyota RAV4 Prime debuted to much fanfare and success.
I drove the car back then and enjoyed what it had to offer. But this time, I was able to appreciate everything even more, with only a little to complain about.
Are there any changes to the 2023 RAV4 Prime?
The main update for every 2023 Toyota RAV4 model lies in the infotainment system. The touchscreen now measures eight inches in the base trim level and up to 10.25 inches in the higher XSE trim. The interface is also easier to use and comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Additionally, the XSE trim level has a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel that looks cool and is highly informative.
Which 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime trim level should you pick?
When shopping for a 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime, it’s easy to pick the right trim for you since there are only two to choose from.
- RAV4 Prime SE: $43,090
- RAV4 Prime XSE: $46,960
I recommend the XSE trim level for its upgraded infotainment system, premium audio system, and LED instrument panel display. It’s also available in a few different two-tone color designs. My tester for the week was a RAV4 Prime XSE fitted with the available Premium package. The overall price for the test car was $51,719, which included the $1,335 destination charge.
What is it like to drive the Toyota RAV4 Prime?
If you’re looking for a small crossover SUV with plenty of low to mid-range power to make it suitable for every daily driving situation, the 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime has it all. There’s a 2.0-liter engine under its hood that’s mated to an electric motor, which gives it quiet and effortless acceleration off the line. That electric power is carried midway through the powerband, which makes the RAV4 feel like an electric vehicle. However, the power can die out under heavy acceleration or when going up hills, so the gas engine kicks in for more power. The transition between the two is seamless.
However, you can hear the growl of the four-cylinder engine when you push the accelerator hard. It’s further accentuated by the Toyota SUV’s CVT, which acts like a single-gear transmission and makes the engine stick at the higher rpm range at full throttle. It’s not intrusive, but it’s also not a good noise.
Otherwise, the RAV4 Prime’s acceleration is no joke. Toyota says it can reach 60 mph from a stop in only 5.7 seconds. That’s far quicker than the Honda CR-V Hybrid (7.9 seconds) and Nissan Rogue (7.8 seconds), according to Car and Driver’s testing. Although, both of those cars feel a little smoother in their operation when driving around town. That said, the Toyota RAV4 Prime feels powerful when driven spiritedly, and it handles better than you think it would.
Its suspension feels a little stiff for a crossover, and its body is more rigid than the CR-V and Rogue, but it translates well when taking corners at speed. The RAV4 Prime feels surprisingly agile in the corners and compliant and comfortable on normal roads, although it does have some body roll. Additionally, its cabin is quiet and spacious, with plenty of room in both the first and second rows for tall passengers.
At one point, I drove my friend and his baby around in the RAV4 Prime. He remarked that the cabin was spacious enough to get the car seat positioned well in the rear middle seat, and the baby didn’t have any complaints either. That said, I can imagine that the RAV4 Prime would be a great SUV for a family of up to five.
Is the RAV4 Prime tech-savvy?
Toyota upgrading the RAV4’s infotainment system was a much-needed move. The previous system looked and felt like an Atari interface in comparison. The new version follows suit with other new Toyota models as it has a complete touchscreen operation with a side menu of icons.
These icons allow you to navigate to the radio, on-screen map, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and other settings. There is no main menu to mess with, which makes it very intuitive. I also can’t complain about the wireless CarPlay integration because it connected well every time.
My test car also came with the premium JBL sound system, heated/ventilated seats, dual-zone climate control, and a head-up display. My favorite feature by far, though, is the digital rearview mirror that comes in handy when the cabin is filled and the driver’s rear visibility is blocked.
What is the real-world mpg for a 2023 RAV4 Prime?
Toyota says RAV4 Prime can get up to 42 miles of all-electric range when it is fully charged. In my testing, I was able to get 40 miles at the most, which quickly diminished with my heavy right foot. The RAV4 Prime can reportedly get up to 38 mpg after the range is depleted, but I achieved an average of 46.5 mpg during my week of mixed driving situations.
How long does it take to charge a RAV4 Prime?
Toyota says it should take around 2.5 hours to charge a RAV4 Prime fully on a level 2 public charger. I wasn’t able to test that, but I did plug it into a level 1 (120-volt) outlet. With that connection, it took around 11 hours to fully charge, which wasn’t an issue. I plugged the car in at night, and by morning, it was completely juiced up and ready to save gas.
How safe is the Toyota RAV4 Prime?
The 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime has not been tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA, but the 2022 model has. The 2022 RAV4, which is the same car, received a Top Safety Pick + award from the IIHS and a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA. So we can deduce that the 2023 model is just as safe.
If that’s not convincing enough, you can rest assured that the RAV4 Prime is safe by the sheer number of safety features it comes equipped with. Some of the most notable features include:
- Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 + pre-collision system with pedestrian detection
- Lane departure alert with steering assist
- Eight airbags
- Auto high beams
- Adaptive cruise control
- Blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert
Some other available safety features include a panoramic view monitor, front and rear parking assist with automatic braking, and the aforementioned digital rear mirror.
The editors at MotorBiscuit give the 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime a rating of 8.2 out of 10
We give the 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime an overall score of 8.2 out of 10. The RAV4 Prime ups the ante on the regular RAV4 Hybrid with nearly 100 extra horsepower and all-electric operation. It’s great for commuters and habitual errand runners that want to save on gas. However, if you have a long commute every day, the normal RAV4 Hybrid will suffice.
The Toyota RAV4 Prime is also a good-looking plug-in hybrid SUV, but it could use a refresh soon. Its interior styling is still up to par, but it looks a little utilitarian compared to its rivals. That said, the little SUV drive well and packs a surprisingly powerful punch. Ultimately, the 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime presents a great value in a niche plug-in hybrid compact SUV market.