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2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE Review


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The Joy of EV Torque

by Mark Fulmer
The Auto Channel

When the 2021 RAV4 Prime arrived my first impression was "cool colors (red and black) and sporty lines". But the best was yet to be. Press the Start button. Hybrid silence. Empty street, so let's see what she's got. Punch it. What the...? Instant silent acceleration! Like a high tech roller coaster... and the grin didn't leave my face in the curves - as the RAV stayed flat and tight. Darn near Mini Cooper handling. In a SUV? Get outta here.


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That launch-like EV torque comes courtesy of the RAVs larger electric motors and hybrid liquid-cooled pack, filled with 96 prismatic cells that creates 302 hp. In the pure EV mode you can get 40-50 miles gas free. Overnight you can fully recharge with house current, with a 240 charger it takes two and a half hours. The other half of the powerplant is an Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline-4. If you go all EV mode, expect 93 mpg, in the gas/hybrid mode 38 mpg.


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You can seat three across the rear seat but one of them should be on the thin side. Fold down that second row to have 63.2 cubic feet of cargo space and 33.5 cubic feet with that seat up.


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The Prime trim offers a head-up display - well worth the money - and a 9.0-inch touchscreen display. The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa, and comes with a three-month trial of Sirius XM satellite radio. And there’s a total of five USB ports. 2021 RAV4 gets active safety features that include automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control.


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Other features include alloy wheels, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, keyless start, and heated seats, synthetic leather upholstery with red accents, subwoofer, and moonroof.


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Quite simply the RAV4 Prime XSE is a joy to drive with remarkable zip, nimbleness, and agility that make all those short trips into quick enjoyable jaunts.


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