Motor trend rav4

Motor trend rav4 DEFAULT
Fair Market Price

With the MotorTrend Fair Market Price (powered by IntelliChoice), get a better idea of what you’ll pay after negotiations including destination, taxes, and fees. The actual transaction price depends on many variables from dealer inventory to bargaining skills, so this figure is an approximation.

5-Year Cost to Own / Rating
$28,900$31,600$32,914 / Excellent
$28,900$31,600$32,914 / Excellent
$30,195$33,010$33,494 / Excellent
$32,900$35,969$35,510 / Excellent
$34,850$38,111$36,700 / Excellent
$37,430$40,888$38,629 / Excellent
$38,350$41,731$38,905 / Excellent
$41,675$45,260$41,283 / Excellent

Cargo (Std/Max):

38/70 cu.ft.

5-Year Cost to Own



  • Quicker and more efficient than non-hybrid RAV4s
  • Standard active safety content
  • Smooth engine and transmission


  • Underwhelming handling
  • RAV4 Prime is pricey and has less cargo capacity

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Expert Review

Duncan Brady

The hybridized version of Toyota's fifth-generation RAV4 is the second of its kind; the first RAV4 hybrid debuted for the 2016 model year. The 2021 RAV4 Hybrid includes standard AWD and offers not only superior fuel economy, but stronger performance than its non-hybrid twin with a similarly spacious cargo area.

The new-for-2021 RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid only furthers its strengths, though with a nearly $40,000 starting price. Toyota's RAV4 hybrids compete with other compact hybrid SUVs including the battery-augmented versions of the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and new-for-2022 Hyundai Tucson.

The non-hybrid RAV4 finished fourth of eight in our compact SUV Big Test as a result of its unimpressive engine-transmission pairing, bouncy ride, and ponderous handling. Adding a couple electric motors and a CVT to the equation results in a smoother and more refined driving experience, with the added benefit of standout efficiency and strong performance. We also dig the Hybrid XSE's sporty styling.

The new RAV4 Prime sacrifices a cubic foot or two of cargo capacity for a usable 42-mile electric range and brisk acceleration. Neither the Prime nor the regular hybrid handle with elegance, but we can forgive that in this segment. The RAV4 Prime bested the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in a recent comparison test with its superior performance and efficiency.

The RAV4's rugged, angular styling and nicely designed interior carry over to both hybrid variants. They also retain the RAV4's standard active safety tech and decent-sized back seat, but the rear door opening is still slightly too narrow.

The RAV4 Hybrid's value proposition isn't as strong in its higher trims, which allowed the CR-V Hybrid to inch ahead of it in our hybrid compact comparison test. If you avoid the most loaded models, however, the RAV4 Hybrid is an especially good buy. And when the budget allows for a plug-in model, the RAV4 Prime is also worth consideration.

The standard RAV4 Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine working with two electric motors (one up front and one out back) and a CVT automatic to drive all four wheels. Total system output is rated at 219 hp, which gives the hybrid a 16-hp advantage over the gas RAV4. Acceleration improves on that of the standard car, too; 7.1 seconds to 60 compared to 8.0 seconds in the unhybridized model. Fuel economy measures an impressive 41/38 mpg city/highway.

Ah, but the real news this year is the RAV4 Prime. The new plug-in model pairs the same 2.5-liter four-pot with more powerful electric motors and an 18.1-kWh lithium-ion battery. System output jumps to 302 hp, and the plug-in's larger battery enables it to travel up to 42 miles on electric power alone before the engine propels the car for another 550 miles.

In our testing, the RAV4 Prime accelerated from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds. That makes it Toyota's second-quickest vehicle behind the Supra. The plug-in's fuel economy figures read 94 mpg-e combined running on gas and electricity or 38 mpg combined on gas alone.

The RAV4 Hybrid is every bit as safe as its non-hybrid siblings, except when it comes to headlights. In IIHS safety testing, it earns good crashworthiness and front crash prevention scores but is hit or miss with headlight ratings. With the Adaptive Front Headlight System, the RAV4 Hybrid Limited gets a Good score and earns 2021 Top Safety Pick designation.

Most other trims have headlights that get a Poor rating as a result of inadequate visibility around curves and some glare. Oddly enough, the base Hybrid LE's headlights earn a better Marginal score. The RAV4 Hybrid also earns a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA.

Every RAV4 Hybrid includes Toyota's suite of active safety tech. That means adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist with lane tracing, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, and road sign assist are included on all trims. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are standard on all but the base LE.

Although RAV4 Hybrids don't give up any cargo volume compared to a standard RAV4, the same cannot be said for the plug-in and its larger battery. The RAV4 Prime offers 33.4 cubic feet behind the rear bench and 63.1 with the seats folded down compared to 37.6 and 69.8 cubic feet in the standard hybrid. Both models seat five with legroom measuring 41.0 inches up front and 37.8 inches in the rear.

While the standard Hybrid utilizes the same standard 7.0- and optional 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment systems as the gas car, the RAV4 Prime ups the game with the 8.0-inch display as standard and a 9.0-inch touchscreen on the top-spec trim. On both models, six-speaker audio is standard, and an 11-speaker JBL premium system is included with higher trims.

MotorTrend Score

Based on performance, value, MPG, interior space, and more, this score reflects MotorTrend’s exhaustive evaluation process. Scores can only be compared to other cars in the same class. A 7.0 rating represents average performance.


#1 in Compact Hybrid SUVs | Rankings

Segment-best acceleration meets segment-best highway fuel economy in the RAV4 Hybrid. This hot-selling crossover looks sharp and is very practical. It’s a terrific value, especially on lower and mid-level trims.


Performance of Intended Function: How does a car drive? Does it have enough space for passengers and their stuff?


We track efficiency and driving range.


Does the car offer impressive tech for its segment? How well does it work? Are there any innovative design details?


How well will this car hold its value over time? Will it be expensive to maintain, insure, or repair? IntelliChoice data and research inform this score.

Fair Market Price

With the MotorTrend Fair Market Price (powered by IntelliChoice), get a better idea of what you’ll pay after negotiations including destination, taxes, and fees. The actual transaction price depends on many variables from dealer inventory to bargaining skills, so this figure is an approximation.

5-Year Cost to Own / Rating
$26,350$28,812$32,004 / Good
$26,350$28,812$32,004 / Good
$27,645$30,209$32,362 / Excellent
$27,750$30,324$33,343 / Good
$29,045$31,726$33,898 / Good
$30,350$33,142$34,459 / Excellent
$31,750$34,666$35,938 / Good
$33,455$36,527$37,000 / Good
$34,880$38,085$37,328 / Good
$36,080$39,305$38,458 / Good
$36,280$39,621$38,931 / Good

Cargo (Std/Max):

38/70 cu.ft.

5-Year Cost to Own



  • Strong fuel economy for the segment
  • Generous standard safety tech
  • Sharp design
  • Free maintenance


  • Coarse powertrain
  • Stiff ride quality
  • Not as nimble as its rivals

Toyota RAV4 Expert Review

Duncan Brady

The RAV4 is Toyota's compact SUV and its best-selling vehicle overall. This current, fifth-generation model debuted for 2019 and added Android Auto capability and a TRD Off-Road trim last year. For 2021, updates on the standard RAV4 are limited to a new front skid plate for the TRD variant, and the RAV4 Hybrid lineup gains a new XLE Premium trim. This model year, Toyota also welcomes the plug-in hybrid RAV4 Prime to the lineup.

In the ultra-competitive compact crossover segment, the RAV4 competes against a number of options including the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, and Ford Escape.

The fifth-generation RAV4 represents a massive improvement over its predecessor, but this is still not our favorite compact crossover. Toyota's best-selling little ute finished fourth in an eight-vehicle compact SUV comparison in 2019, held back by an unimpressive (and loud) powertrain, packaging faults such as rear seats that don't fold flat, and rear doors that fail to open as far as we'd like. The 2021 RAV4 competed in another small SUV comparison and placed third against the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Hyundai Tucson.

We do appreciate the RAV4's adventurous interior and exterior design. The cabin is full of contrasting accents and chunky control knobs that differentiate the RAV4 from its competition. Rear seat room is generous, despite measurements that suggest otherwise. See how it fared against Subaru's campground superstar, the 2022 Outback Wilderness, in our comparison test.

Toyota engineered surprising off-road capability for a car-based crossover, too, especially in the cool (albeit overpriced) TRD Off-Road trim. The included 2 years/25,000 miles of free maintenance meant we didn't spend a dime keeping our long-term RAV4 in tip-top shape. Factor in the wealth of standard active safety features and the RAV4 is a compelling package, but we'd still rather drive a CR-V.

Most RAV4s are powered by a 2.5-liter non-turbo four mated to an eight-speed automatic with FWD standard and optional AWD. The four-cylinder engine develops 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque that, in the evaluation of our long-term one-year RAV4, helped the Toyota reach 60 mph in a respectable 8.0 seconds. FWD variants return up to 28/35 mpg city/highway, but those numbers drop as low as 25/32 mpg in the AWD-only TRD Off-Road.

For greater efficiency, more power, and slightly better dynamics, try the RAV4 Hybrid. Positioned as a sporty option within the lineup, the 219-hp has standard electric AWD and 41/38 mpg. Then there's the RAV4 Prime, Toyota's new plug-in hybrid option. As the flagship RAV4 model, the quick Prime makes 302 hp, yet has a 42-mile electric range before the 2.5-liter I-4 helps the Toyota deliver a driving range of 600 miles.

More on the hybrids: 5 Reasons to Splurge on the Prime and 5 More to Get the Hybrid

Based on its performance in IIHS safety testing, the RAV4 has a great chance of keeping you safe in a crash. It earns the highest possible scores in crashworthiness and front crash prevention, though the headlight rating is unexceptional. Even with standard LEDs and automatic high beams, the RAV4 receives a Marginal rating due to inadequate visibility on curves. The RAV4 Hybrid's Adaptive Front Headlight System achieves a Good score, which makes the compact Toyota a 2020 Top Safety Pick.

The RAV4 is also a five-star overall safety rating recipient from the NHTSA. That said, it earned four-star ratings in frontal crash safety and rollover tests.

In addition to strong crashworthiness, the RAV4 is noteworthy for its standard driver assist features. Adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane centering, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection are included on all models. Every RAV4 save the base LE also features blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Cargo volume in the RAV4 measures up to 37.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats, a number that falls behind the Honda CR-V (39.2 cubic feet) but ahead of the Subaru Forester and Ford Escape at 33.0 and 33.5 cubes, respectively. Folding down the rear bench expands cargo volume to 69.8 cubic feet. The RAV4's cargo figures are about the same in hybrid form but fall to 33.4 and 63.1 cubic feet in the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid.

The Toyota seats five with 41.0 inches of legroom up front and a tight-for-the-segment 37.8 inches in the rear.

Standard tech for the RAV4 includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility plus connectivity via Bluetooth or USB. Higher trims add an 8.0-inch display with navigation and swap the standard 4.2-inch instrument cluster display with a 7.0-inch screen.

MotorTrend Score

Based on performance, value, MPG, interior space, and more, this score reflects MotorTrend’s exhaustive evaluation process. Scores can only be compared to other cars in the same class. A 7.0 rating represents average performance.


#5 in Compact SUVs | Rankings

Even though the RAV4 can’t deliver the powertrain or ride quality refinement of its higher-ranked competition, its ample cargo space, standard safety tech, and high value rating mean it’s still a clever buy.


Performance of Intended Function: How does a car drive? Does it have enough space for passengers and their stuff?


We track efficiency and driving range.


Does the car offer impressive tech for its segment? How well does it work? Are there any innovative design details?


How well will this car hold its value over time? Will it be expensive to maintain, insure, or repair? IntelliChoice data and research inform this score.

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If you had told us a decade ago that the Toyota Supra would be built by BMW, we would've told you to kick rocks. Had you said that Toyota's uber-popular RAV4 crossover will be one of the quickest vehicles in Toyota's portfolio, we would've called you crazy. But today's world is anything but a normal place. It's a world where the performance of many SUVs now rivals or surpasses that of some sports sedans. And yes, it's a world where even a RAV4 is quicker in some cases than the new Supra.

HIGHS: Impressive acceleration, useful electric range, costs less with tax credits than some RAV4 hybrid models.

Now in its third model year, Toyota's fifth generation of its bestselling RAV4 gets more electric oomph courtesy of a new plug-in-hybrid variant, the 2021 RAV4 Prime. Beneath its hood, the Prime's powertrain is similar to that of the plugless RAV4 hybrid model. On the fuel-burning side of its powertrain is a 177-hp 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-four that has been calibrated for Prime duty.

But paired with the internal-combustion engine is Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system. With two permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor-generators that combine to generate 179 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque at the front axle, the system makes substantially more grunt than the RAV4 hybrid's electric contribution of 118 horses and 149 pound-feet. There's an additional motor, the same 53-hp, 89-lb-ft rear motor that's fitted to the RAV4 hybrid, to provide standard all-wheel-drive capability. Electricity to power the system is stored in an 18.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. With all the components working in harmony, the RAV4 Prime is rated at a combined 302 horsepower, which is a stout 83 ponies more than the hybrid.

We've already put the conventional RAV4 up against the best in its segment during a six-way compact-crossover comparison test, and we've vetted the hybrid in separate testing. The Prime tips the scales at a portly 4400 pounds, 579 more than the hybrid. At the test track, however, the additional weight was no match for the added thrust of the Prime's powertrain. The Prime blasts to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds and crosses the quarter-mile in 14.0 seconds at 100 mph. Yes, the Supra with its standard 255-hp turbo 2.0-liter four is still quicker—4.7 seconds to 60 mph and 13.3 at 104 mph in the quarter-mile—but the Prime does beat it from five to 60 mph, 30 to 50 mph, and from 50 to 70 mph. It also spanks the RAV4 hybrid to 60 mph by 1.9 seconds and crushes it in the quarter-mile by 2.6 seconds and 9 mph. Those well versed in quick Toyotas will note the Prime is also quicker than the wannabe-racer Camry TRD.

LOWS: Performance elements end with the powertrain, infotainment looks a generation behind, quick charger is only available on the top trim level.

For those not chasing Supras around on Friday nights, the Prime's efficiency is likely the more interesting element. Toyota has been doing the hybrid thing for quite some time, and its technology is well sorted. The transition from internal-combustion to electric power is seamless, although the Prime could benefit from some additional isolation from the four-cylinder. Once the battery is depleted or the accelerator is pushed to the floor, the 2.5-liter moans and groans a dismal soundtrack. But before those thresholds are breached, the Prime can run for up to 42 miles of EPA-rated electric-only driving, which is more than enough to cover most commutes. It can also sustain EV mode up to 84 mph. At 75 mph, we traveled 32 miles before the powertrain switched from pure electric to hybrid mode. With the electrons depleted, we averaged 32 mpg, which is 6 mpg less than its EPA highway rating.

However, the Prime's chassis dynamics are far less compelling than its punchy powertrain. Panic stops from 70 mph produce an alarming shuddering sound. And although the Prime has the largest brake rotors available on any RAV4, we recorded a lengthy 195-foot stop. There's also plenty of body roll at the 0.75-g lateral grip limit. For comparison, the non-plug-in RAV4 hybrid stopped from 70 mph in 182 feet and gripped the skidpad at 0.81 g in our testing. Under more civilized driving conditions, the Prime has a firm brake pedal that lacks any regenerative weirdness, its steering is responsive, and aside from letting a few sharp impacts reverberate through its structure, its ride quality is supple.

Starting at $39,220—some $9750 more than the starter RAV4 hybrid LE—the entry-level Prime SE is modestly equipped with an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, heated and supportive cloth seats, and 18-inch wheels. For another $3345, the XSE model adds a 9.0-inch display, two-tone paint, a wireless charging pad, synthetic leather seats, LED accent lighting, 19-inch wheels, and paddle shifters. While paddle shifters might seem out of place in a RAV4, without the ability to be driven with one pedal or a way to select its degree of regenerative braking, manually downshifting the continuously variable transmission does enable more regen when decelerating and descending grades. Both trims feature Toyota's lengthy list of safety equipment, including adaptive cruise, lane-keeping assist, and pedestrian detection. The XSE trim adds cross-traffic alerts and parking assist for the front and rear.

Like all fifth-generation RAV4s, the Prime benefits from improved exterior styling with a boxy shape and a masculine curb appeal. The Prime isn't available in the outdoor-themed Adventure or surprisingly capable TRD trims, though it does feature a Trail mode that loosens up the stability control and will send torque to the wheel with the most traction. The interior is ergonomically friendly with intuitive ergonomics and nifty rubber-trimmed knobs to control the audio volume and HVAC functions. The touchscreens stand proud on the dash, but their resolution looks more 2015 than the otherwise tastefully modern cabin. With the battery packaged beneath the floor, no passenger space is lost versus other RAV4s, and the back seat remains spacious enough to accommodate full-size adults. Cargo volume behind the rear seats (33–34 cubic feet) is slightly penalized, losing four or five cubes compared to the hybrid.

While SE and XSE both come standard with a 3.3-kWh onboard charger, moving up to the XSE unlocks the ability for quicker charging. For $5760, the Premium package ups the charger to 6.6 kWh, while also adding a 120-volt outlet in the cargo area, a panoramic roof, a head-up display, heated outboard seats in the rear, and ventilation for the front chairs. Compared to the standard charger, the more powerful setup reduces charging times by two hours when connected to a 240-volt supply, requiring 2.5 hours by Toyota's measurement. When connected to a 120-volt outlet, Toyota claims it will take 12 hours to replenish the battery.

Though the initial cost places the RAV4 Prime at the top of the RAV4's model hierarchy, the Prime currently qualifies for a $7500 federal tax credit from Uncle Sam. With that discount, the Prime becomes a compelling buy, being quicker and less expensive than a loaded RAV4 hybrid Limited model and with significantly more electric range. Indeed, nothing about that seems normal.



2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE

front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon

$49,170 (base price: $42,545)

DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline-4, 177 hp, 165 lb-ft + 3 permanent-magnet synchronous motors, front: 179 hp, 199 lb-ft; rear: 53 hp, 89 lb-ft; combined output, 302 hp; 18.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack

continuously variable automatic

Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 12.9-in vented disc/12.4-in vented disc
Tires: Yokohama Avid GT S35, 235/55R-19 101V M+S

Wheelbase: 105.9 in
Length: 180.9 in
Width: 73.0 in
Height: 67.2 in
Passenger volume: 99 ft3
Cargo volume: 33 ft3
Curb weight: 4400 lb

60 mph: 5.4 sec
100 mph: 14.0 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.6 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.7 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.4 sec
1/4 mile: 14.0 sec @ 100 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 117 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 195 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.75 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.

75-mph highway driving, EV/hybrid mode: 73 MPGe/32 mpg
Highway range, EV/hybrid mode: 32/460 miles

Combined/city/highway: 38/36/40 mpg
Combined gasoline+electricity: 94 MPGe
EV range: 42 miles


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