Green Vehicles

2023 Best PHEV: Toyota RAV4 Prime

Toyota is a pioneer in the hybrid space, so it makes a lot of sense that the RAV4 Prime has been voted as the Best Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) in the 2023 AutoTrader Awards.

Coming off a repeat win in last year’s awards for Best Green Vehicle, there has been so much change in the electrified vehicle space that we have introduced separate categories for hybrids, PHEVs, and electric vehicles (EVs). Previously, the Green Vehicle award encapsulated all of them. After considering every single PHEV available for Canadians to buy, our jury of more than 20 automotive experts have voted for the Toyota RAV4 Prime as the best of the bunch.

The Toyota RAV4 is already a popular vehicle that has a reputation for efficiency and reliability, but add in a hard-working plug-in hybrid powertrain along with record high gas prices, and the RAV4 Prime becomes even more compelling than its conventionally gas-powered sibling.

With up to 68 km of electric driving range, the RAV4 Prime offers an easy way to do most of your commute or errands without burning a drop of fuel. When the battery is depleted, the RAV4 Prime still runs efficiently as a hybrid to cut fuel usage. One overjoyed RAV4 Prime owner reports on Toyota Canada’s website that after a month of driving over 2,500 km, it still has a quarter tank of gas!

The Prime is powered by a 302-hp 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine combined with Toyota’s proven PHEV system. If you run out of battery range, the combined city and highway fuel economy is 6.0 L/100 km, which is astonishingly good for a vehicle of its size that also has all-wheel drive. You’ll also be pleased to learn it catapults from zero to 100 km/h in only six seconds. Electric power means instant torque, which is great for passing slower drivers when speed and not efficiency is top of mind.

The 2023 RAV4 Prime has the second-least expensive opening price among its peers. Starting at a base of $49,390 for the SE AWD trim, the 2023 RAV4 Prime was judged best in class over the finalists in this category, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Jeep Wrangler 4xe, Lexus NX h+, and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

While the Outlander is more affordable, the RAV4 Prime’s opening price packs a lot. There are plenty of features including six speakers, five USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, heated steering wheel and front seats, tons of safety tech, and more.

The entry-level SE AWD model comes with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5, the latest iteration of a comprehensive package of defences against the many wayward drivers you face daily on the roads. Heavy highway users will appreciate the full-speed range adaptive cruise control. For city dwellers, its right/left turn oncoming pedestrian detection, emergency automatic braking and pre-collision system with nighttime pedestrian and cyclist detection help drivers avoid potentially scary collisions.

Beyond being incredibly efficient, our judges were also impressed by the RAV4 Prime’s user-friendliness and inherent practicality. Even if you’ve never driven a PHEV, this Toyota introduces you gently and makes it as easy as possible. An overhead-view camera and digital rearview mirror help prevent early paint touch-ups. An easy-kick liftgate means less bending and futzing. Long-time AutoTrader contributor Peter Bleakney rated the Prime’s user-friendliness at enviable 9/10, praising its “common-sense ergonomics and easy familiarity” in his review.

“It does everything exceptionally well, carrying its passengers in smooth, silent, and surprisingly swift comfort while keeping fuel costs to a bare minimum,” Bleakney wrote. And it’s that all-around excellence that helped the Toyota RAV4 Prime earn its win as the Best PHEV in the 2023 AutoTrader Awards.