Despite the rise of electric vehicles, the compact crossover remains the most popular vehicle sold in the United States where it is valued for its modest size but impressive utility.
So, it is no surprise, the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V have piled up substantial sales numbers month after month even amid semiconductor shortages and other pandemic-driven supply chain problems. The RAV4 Hybrid version also is popular model because it adds to vehicle’s overall fuel efficiency.
Now with RAV4 Prime XSE AWD, which I had an opportunity to drive for a week, Toyota is taking another step into the world of electrified vehicles with a model if you keep it charged up, does not even need gasoline unless you happen to take a long trip to a favorite fishing hole.
The 2022 RAV4 Prime XSE AWD offers delivers a pleasant, efficient ride with impressive efficiency in a familiar package substantial numbers have come to appreciate for versatility and dependability. The technology underlying the RAV4 Prime also is deftly integrated, making for a vehicle that satisfies customers looking for reliable transportation with a smaller environmental footprint than the typical crossover or SUV.
The 2022 RAV4 embraces the silhouette of the crossover vehicle Toyota pioneered years ago — two boxes on a unibody frame. Over the years, Toyota’s stylists have revised to front fascia to give the vehicle a contemporary appearance and the integration of LED projector headlights into the overall design.
The sheet metal around the vehicle has been reworked to freshen the ute’s overall appearances, making it more appealing to current audiences. The liftgate at the rear, which can be activated by waving your foot under the rear bumper — not advisable in a snowy parking lot — also has been tailored to enhance the vehicle’s appearance. Toyota stylists also have dressed up the wheels.
The interior of the 2022 RAV4 Prime XSE comes with a modestly furnished cabin including cupholders and cubby holes for storing stuff and bright work to set off elements of the interior layout, such as the shift lever.
There are also steering wheel controls and a mixture of knobs and buttons to control other functions. But I thought the 10-inch screen in the center stack looked dated, given the sleeker designs available on competitive vehicles now available from competitors, such as Mazda.
The entertainment system delivered nice quality sound, but I was puzzled by the placement of a couple of the speakers, which seemed to be attached to the A-pillar as an afterthought. The second row of seats, under the panoramic roof, is rather cramped but there is ample room for luggage or packages. Visibility from the driver’s seat was very good.
The hybrid drivetrain has been a point of contention among automotive engineers for decades, but Toyota has been successful in equipping its vehicles with a hybrid system that augments the 2.5-liter internal gasoline with a 179-horsepower electric motor and lithium-ion battery.
As a plug-in hybrid, the battery has been enlarged so the vehicle can operate on battery power for 42 miles. The average vehicle in the U.S. is driven about 36 miles per day so it can operate on electricity indefinitely if its recharged regularly. But it can also operate on the power from the ICE only.
The MPGe for the RAV4 Prime is 94 MPGe, while the ICE engine gets about 38 mpg. The gasoline engine and electric motor combine to produce 302 horsepower. It is also equipped with paddle shifters, a drive-mode selector and integrated all-wheel-drive system.
Safety and Technology
The Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE is equipped with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which includes pre-collision alert with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist and automatic high beams as well as blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert and parking assistance.
It also is equipped with eight airbags, a back-up camera with perimeter scan and head-up display to help the driver keep their eye on the road. It also comes with Bluetooth, satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as a USB media port and four USB charging ports and wireless charging. The 10-inch entertainment screen also provides navigation.
Among the attributes of the RAV4 Prime XSE is the driving dynamics seem almost identical when the vehicle is running on battery power or when the gasoline engine kicks in. The gas engine seemed to provide a bit more power but overall, the ride-and-handling is very, very similar.
The steering is accurate and regenerative braking system gives the vehicle some additional stopping power. The 302-horsepower produced by powertrain is more than ample for the vehicle and the fuel economy is substantially better than with a compact crossover powered only with gasoline. The vehicle I drove also had intermittent wipers and heated seats.
2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE AWD Specifications
|Dimension||L: 180.9 inches/W: 73 inches/H: 67.2 inches/Wheelbase: 105.9 inches|
|Powertrain||2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine plus a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor; CVT, AWD|
|Fuel Economy||94 MPGe/40 mpg city/36 mpg highway/38 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||302 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $43,625; As tested: $50,731, plus $1,215 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
The 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime has plenty impressive attributes. It seems to be about the right size for today’s urban and suburban world and it is loaded with the very latest features and technology. But with prices of new vehicles rising well in excess of the general rate of inflation across the economy.
The price tag for the loaded version of the RAV4 I drove with its price tag of more than $50,000 pushes into territory, which once belonged to luxury vehicles only a few short years ago. The price tag is certain to surprise more than a few buyers looking for reliable, family-oriented transportation at a relatively modest price.