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Whether you’re a fan of the Toyota RAV4 small SUV or not, it’s tough not to acknowledge its impact on the industry as a best-selling model. The RAV4 is iconic because it’s affordable to purchase, reliable over long periods, and practical for small families. Toyota arguably produces the best version of the RAV4 ever made, a plug-in hybrid iteration, also known as the 2023 RAV4 Prime. Why isn’t it very common on American roads?

A red Toyota RAV4 Prime small plug-n hybrid SUV is driving on the road.
The Toyota RAV4 Prime | Toyota

As an automotive journalist, it’s rare that I’m completely in awe of a vehicle, having test-driven so many. The 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime is stunning both conceptually and in real life as a daily driver. The aptly named Prime is easily the best version of the RAV4 that has ever been made from a performance standpoint. So, why don’t you see many at stoplights or parked in driveways?

Like many great vehicles, the RAV4 Prime has a relatively high starting price, especially for a small SUV. Furthermore, since plug-in hybrid tech is still relatively new, the vehicle hasn’t earned the same trust from consumers as its gas counterparts. It’s new and exciting but will undoubtedly become more appealing with age.

RAV4 Prime SE$43,440
RAV4 Prime XSE$47,310
2024 Toyota RAV4 Prime pricing.

Perhaps most frustrating for fans of the RAV4 Prime is that the PHEV is no longer eligible for the full federal electric vehicle tax incentive of $7,500. Initially, when it did qualify, its starting price was closer to $36,000 (after the incentive).

If the RAV4 Prime SE were $36K after incentives, chances are, the small plug-in hybrid SUV would be much more popular. It has a much stronger value proposition at that price point. Now, since it no longer qualifies for the full EV tax credit, it’s significantly less appealing to the average American consumer through the lens of affordability. Combine the RAV4 Prime’s hefty price tag with its novelty as a PHEV, and it’s easy to see why the impactful new SUV is such a rarity. The question remains: should you get one?

Is the 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime a good SUV?

The 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime is an incredible vehicle because of its amazing power output, electric-only driving range, and great standard features.

Power Output302 Horsepower, 288 LB-FT of Torque
MPGe (Miles Per Gallon Equivalent)94
Electric-Only Driving Range42 Miles
Toyota RAV4 Prime specs.

Toyota’s small plug-in hybrid gets incredible driving range boosted even further by its electric-only range. It can go from 0-60 miles per hour in about 5.7 seconds. It’s one of the quickest vehicles that the Japanese brand produces.

Standard Features

  • Leather-trimmed steering wheel
  • Heated front seating
  • Heated outside mirrors with turn signal and blind-spot warning indicators
  • Smart key system
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto

The Toyota RAV4 Prime is here to stay

A red 2024 Toyota RAV4 Prime small plug-in hybrid SUV is driving on the road.
The Toyota RAV4 Prime | Toyota
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Though the RAV4 Prime nameplate may not have made a huge impact on the industry yet, it has great potential. As electric vehicle charging infrastructure improves, PHEVs and EVs will become more appealing to consumers. Access to charging is a huge part of why many consumers may pass on this amazing family SUV. The Toyota RAV4 Prime will play a huge role in the brand’s future and its push to electrify its portfolio in the years to come.