Unless you’ve lived as a hermit all of 2020, you’ve certainly heard of the Toyota RAV4 Prime . A plug-in hybrid variant of the famous Japanese SUV, it has received nothing but praise so far.
The vehicle immediately placed at the top of its class when we put it to the test, whether it was during the individual tests or the comparison match included in the 2021 Car Guide . Able to cover around 70 kilometers without a drop of gasoline, the RAV4 Prime was one of our team’s favorites in 2020.
That said, as with all electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, it is to be expected that the batteries will lose their efficiency due to the cold. What is the electric range of the RAV4 Prime in winter? This is what we wanted to know by driving the vehicle for two weeks on the roads of Quebec.
Autonomy and recharging
When recharging for the first time, the vehicle’s battery was completely empty. Plugged into a level 2 (240V) charging station, the RAV4 recovered its full charge in 3 hours. As a reminder, the 18.1 kWh battery offers a theoretical range of 68 kilometers in summer. In a test run by The Auto Guide in July, we managed to cover 72.8 kilometers before the gasoline engine kicked in.
With an outside temperature of -5 °, the on-board computer indicated an estimated range of 52 km. We managed to cover this distance while driving quietly, but without practicing excessive eco-driving. Note that the vehicle was recharged outside, but parked in a garage heated to 18 °, which has a positive effect on battery life.
During a second recharge, the announced autonomy increased to 56 km with a temperature of 0 °. The recharge time also lasted three hours.
Then, we intentionally parked the RAV4 Prime outside, and charged it an hour before hitting the road. After 60 minutes, the battery had recovered 6.2 kWh and the display indicated 23 km of range (0 ° Celsius). But with the cooler battery, we didn’t manage to go over 18 km once on the road.
As good as in summer?
Already acclaimed for its performance and handling at the height in summer, the Toyota RAV4 Prime does not come apart once the snow has fallen. Even on rough roads, the Japanese SUV plays with holes and bumps with amazing ease.
The ride quality is very convincing and particularly well suited to our road network. The RAV4 never manhandles its passengers and the very good comfort of the seats allows long journeys to be considered serenely. Thanks to its spacious interior, you can travel with your family without feeling cramped. The trunk is slightly smaller than the other RAV4s (949 liters instead of 1,064), but the capacity remains quite acceptable on a daily basis.
Let us mention an irritant during winter use: the rear window gets dirty quickly when driving in the snow and the rear view camera, too prominent, gets dirty in just a few kilometers. Too bad Toyota did not add a nozzle spraying windshield washer fluid when you operate reverse gear in rain.
The 302 horsepower engine is nervous and allows for energetic acceleration and recovery. Acceleration is slightly higher when the battery is charged, and the gasoline engine is a bit noisy when you put it on maximum demand.
This was especially true in the many climbs of the Laurentians where we put the RAV4 to the test. However, the 4-cylinder gasoline becomes silent once the speed stabilizes.
In terms of handling, the RAV4 Prime does not offer dynamic capacities as high as a Mazda CX-5 for example. However, it does a good job and offers a sufficiently precise direction. The only downside comes from the brake pedal, a tad too soft and whose feeling could be improved. The slowing power is sufficient but a little more bite would not have hurt.
How much does it cost?
Thanks to its large battery, the Toyota RAV4 Prime can claim government rebates (federal and provincial) of up to $ 13,000. A significant saving, since our test model XSE, displayed at $ 53,815, ultimately costs $ 49,315 taxes included and discounts deducted.
A high price all the same, which will not be reduced by relatively high financing rates. With high demand for this product and fairly limited availability, Toyota has no interest in lowering vehicle interest rates. Note that unlike other Toyota RAV4 variants that are built in Ontario, the RAV4 Prime must be imported from Japan.
For a purchase financed over 72 months, the applicable rate is 5.84% which peaks the monthly payments at $ 814 … On the other hand, the excellent expected reliability and the very good resale value will offset this somewhat. long-term additional cost.
On the rental side, it’s even higher with a rate of 6.09% for a term of 36 months / 20,000 km per year! Count $ 735 per month for an XSE model similar to our test model.
To conclude, the Toyota RAV4 Prime drives home the point in winter conditions and remains one of the most interesting compact SUVs today. Its main drawback is its reduced availability. Something to anticipate if you are nearing the end of your rental contract and you are interested in the RAV4 Prime.