With a segment-leading all-electric range of up to 75 km and 302 hp, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime makes for a compelling do-it-all crossover. It’s a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that can have you driving day-to-day gas-free, yet it’s ready to take on longer journeys while avoiding the hassle or worry of finding charging stations.
The fifth-generation Toyota RAV4 is a handsome thing, rocking a chunky, upright profile adorned with a suitably aggressive snout, here featuring a black lower front bumper. This gloss-black treatment extends to the rockers, wheel arches, and rear lower panel. The RAV4 Prime XSE rolls on 19-inch alloy wheels and gets a two-tone paint treatment, although this tester’s dark shade dubbed Blueprint doesn’t make for a whole lot of contrast against the black roof. For 2022, the RAV4’s headlight design was freshened, but that’s about it.
Like other Toyotas, the RAV4 Prime comes with a comprehensive suite of safety systems and driver’s aids. Standard is blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, along with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and bicycle detection, so-called lane-tracing assist, adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic, and lane departure warning with steering assist. The full LED lighting system gets automatic high-beam functionality, while the Technology package adds front and rear parking sensors, a head-up display, and rear cross-traffic emergency braking.
With its 18.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the RAV4 Prime loses a bit of rear trunk space compared to its gas-powered sibling, but its 949 L behind the second row is plenty spacious and about average for the class. The space essentially doubles when the rear bench is folded to create a flat load floor. Up front are a plethora of bins and cubbies. The hatch is powered (hands-free with the tech pack), there’s a wireless charging pad ahead of the shifter, and a 110-volt outlet in the trunk (again, by way of the tech pack). Towing capacity is 1,134 kg (2,500 lb).
User Friendliness: 9/10
The 2022 RAV4 Prime XSE gets high marks for common-sense ergonomics and easy familiarity. The nine-inch touchscreen screen with its logical menu structure is flanked by rows of hard shortcut buttons. Rotary volume and tuning controls make negotiating radio functions a breeze, and the dual-zone HVAC panel is dominated by two large rubber-trimmed knobs for temperature. Gear selection is done via a no-fuss mechanical P-R-N-D lever. We like the large digital gauge cluster with its crisp and colourful graphics that keep the driver informed in all lighting conditions. The RAV4’s upright architecture affords decent all-round visibility, too.
This XSE tester with the optional Technology pack represents the all-singing-and-dancing trim that, for its $60,000-ish sticker, delivers a bona fide near-luxury experience. The seats are trimmed in convincing faux leather and the 10-speaker stereo delivers impressively rich and accurate sound. Three-stage ventilation for the front seats will keep your backside cool, and outboard second row passengers get heated seats. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are standard. The cabin is built to a high standard, and while it might not have the styling elan of some competitors, its easy familiarity is welcome.
With a zero-to-100 km/h time of around six seconds, the RAV4 Prime is (with the exception of the six-cylinder Supra) the quickest Toyota one can buy. No eco-weenie here – this compact crossover surges ahead on a steady wave of electric torque from any speed. It’s especially satisfying when running solely on electric power, such is its smooth, silent, and effortless progress.
Toyota has been in the hybrid game for a long time, and it shows here with the transparent integration of gas and electrons when the 2.5L four-cylinder comes on board once the 18.1-kWh battery is depleted. From there, it operates as a regular gas-electric hybrid, with the four-cylinder working in concert with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT). Yes, there is some engine drone when asking for full throttle, but otherwise the Prime is a model of decorum.
The RAV4 Prime XSE’s plush seats and compliant ride make for a comfortable driving experience, as does the smooth and silent progress afforded by the two electric motors when in full electric mode. The cabin remains suitably hushed at highway speeds, and with such niceties as dual-zone climate, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated rear ones, occupants will feel well cared for. Rear-seat leg- and headroom are generous.
Driving Feel: 8/10
The 2022 RAV4 Prime’s driving experience leans towards the easy-going, compliant side of the equation, which is no bad thing. Its handling is competent and secure, and steering feel is good. Tuck into a corner with a bit of vigour and the RAV4 won’t respond like some of the more sporting offerings in this segment, but does this really matter? Its road manners are perfectly acceptable, and in this segment it’s about comfort over sporty handling. On the highway it’s relaxed and serene, yet ample passing power is just a Nike flex away.
Fuel Economy: 9.5/10
This is why folks dive into the plugin-hybrid pool. Assuming you start the day with a full charge, and your commute (or daily errands) don’t add up to more than 60 to 70 km (68 km claimed), there’s a good chance you might forget what pumping gas is like. My five days of driving logged about 800 km (I commuted 100 km each way on three occasions), about half of which was on electric power alone. The trip computer showed 2.8 L/100 km when I returned the vehicle. On one judicious leg I eked 78 km of electric range out of the Prime. At a Level 2 charger it cost about $7.50 to replenish the battery. Charging at home overnight is much cheaper. With the electrons depleted, the RAV4 Prime is rated at 5.7 L/100 km in the city, 6.4 on the highway, and a combined 6.0. It takes regular-grade fuel.
The 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime comes in two trims: the $44,990 SE and the $51,590 XSE, here topped up with the $5,400 XSE Technology package. Add another $1,890 for freight, too. These prices represent about a $10,000 premium over the regular RAV4 Hybrid, which is built in Ontario. Currently, all RAV4 Prime models come from Japan. Yes, it’s pricey, but one consolation is that you can get away with charging it at home overnight on 110-volt household current; a Level 2 charger is not entirely necessary.
I loved my five days with the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime. It does everything exceptionally well, carrying its passengers in smooth, silent, and surprisingly swift comfort while keeping fuel costs to a bare minimum. And, for longer hauls, just point and go – no charging issues to worry about. Its more than 70 km of electric range (on a good day) beats all its rivals, but there is one big caveat here: if you order a Toyota RAV4 Prime of your own, be prepared for a very long wait.
|Engine Cylinders||I4 plus two permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor/generators|
|Peak Horsepower||302 hp|
|Fuel Economy||Hybrid 5.7 / 6.4 / 6.0 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb; electric-only 22.3 kWh/100 km (2.5 Le/100 km), 68 km range|
|Cargo Space||949 L|
|Model Tested||2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE AWD|
|Price as Tested||$59,520|
$5,940 – XSE Technology Package (Smart Key w/Push Button Start, ventilated front seats, paddle shifters, panoramic moonroof, head-up display, Intelligent Clearance Sonar with Rear Cross Traffic Brake, Softex seats, 360-degree camera, 2-way lumbar, heated front and rear seats, 19-inch wheels, 110V Outlet), $5,940