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For anyone who has checked out a Toyota RAV4, a car salesman has probably also asked if you’re interested in the standard RAV4, the RAV4 Hybrid, or the RAV4 Prime. What’s the difference between these RAV4 models, and is the Toyota RAV4 Prime an EV (electric vehicle)? Well, the answer is yes and no, so we’ll explain what the RAV4 Prime is and why it should be on your radar.

Toyota RAV4 Prime specs and features

A promotional shot of a red 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) side and rear
2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

The 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime comes equipped with a 2.5 L, four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine, which generates 177 horsepower and 165 lb-ft of torque. Two electric engines generate 179 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque, and one in the back generates 52 hp and 89 lb-ft of torque. According to Consumer Reports, this gives the RAV4 Prime a combined horsepower rating of 302, which helps it accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds.

Traveling with the RAV4 Prime is less stressful for anyone who likes the idea of a hybrid but isn’t keen on the low range of an EV. The RAV4 Prime gets 42 miles of pure electric range, according to ARS Technica. For many people, this is more than enough to hit the grocery store, go to work, drop off the kids, and head home in time to charge your vehicle. The combined fuel economy is a respectable 38 mpg. 

The RAV4 Prime comes with plenty of standard safety features such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic warning to name just a few. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard as well. It can seat up to five passengers.

The initial price of the RAV4 Prime is $38,350, but it’s eligible for the federal tax credit of $7,500. This brings the price down to $30,850. The major con to the RAV4 Prime is trying to purchase one because they tend to go quick.

What exactly is a PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle)?

The Toyota RAV4 uses gas. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid uses both gas and electricity. The Toyota RAV4 Prime is a PHEV. So, what is a PHEV, exactly?

According to Progressive, a PHEV is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. It’s easy to assume that it’s simply a hybrid with a fancy name, but there’s more to it than that. PHEVs have larger batteries than traditional hybrids, meaning you can go further on electric power. You can also use fuel if you choose to, so it’s like a hybrid on steroids.

The U.S. Department of Energy reports, “Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) use batteries to power an electric motor and another fuel, such as gasoline, to power an internal combustion engine (ICE). PHEV batteries can be charged using a wall outlet or charging equipment, by the ICE, or through regenerative braking. The vehicle typically runs on electric power until the battery is nearly depleted, and then the car automatically switches over to use the ICE.”

Is there a Toyota RAV4 EV?

Unfortunately, no. For EV lovers, it probably just makes sense for there to be a Toyota RAV4 EV. So why isn’t there? Well, once upon a time, way back in 2014, there was a RAV4 EV. Toyota discontinued it years ago, but it’s possible for it to return to a new age of electric vehicles.

According to Toyota, “The Toyota RAV4 EV was discontinued in 2014, but Toyota remains committed to the electrification of vehicles. While we’ve stopped producing RAV4 EV, our engineers remain hard at work developing the next generation of battery technology, so the future is bright.”

So, is this a promise that the RAV4 EV is coming back? Toyota didn’t exactly pinky-promise on it, but it sounds like a strong possibility. Considering the way EVs are on the rise, Toyota may just bring the RAV4 EV back.