Toyota RAV4 Prime has total plug-in capability

BY H. THROTTLE
AUTOMOTIVE COLUMNIST

The rising price of fuel is boosting the sales of hybrid vehicles with very high demand, and in some cases, a waiting period for delivery due to the shortage of computer chips for components.

The test car this week was Toyota RAV4 Prime SXE all-wheel- drive that is one of the most popular hybrid vehicles that Toyota has manufactured, selling 27,707 units in 2021, even with much lower fuel prices during the past year.

The RAV4 Prime is a “plug-in” hybrid, meaning that it can run on electric power continually if the driver prefers, especially for shorter drives, and plug-in capacity at work needing a four-hour charge, or overnight at home that takes about 8 hours in a regular power outlet.

With the price of oil and gas prices rising  over $4 a gallon, and expected to go higher, a regular hybrid that runs on both a gasoline engine and battery charging is a wise choice, and even more frugal is the plug-in variety that can be charged, never requiring  fossil fuel, and still with an engine that switches on automatically should batteries lose power.

The price of the plug-in Toyota RAV4 prime is a tidy $50,731 and is loaded with all of the latest safety and technical safety features.

RAV4s became famous for the chrome tire frame  mounted on the rear deck of the long running models that have been profoundly popular with many still on the highways today.

Toyota has been a leader in hybrid technology that begins with a gasoline engine such as the test car with a powerful 2.5L  4-cylinder engine and the combination of plug-in EV power only, producing a 302-horsepower package.  

This combination of power and fuel economy is an attractive package for short commutes and access to available power supplies to fully eliminate fuel charges.  Keep in mind that the car runs equally well with the powerful engine, or on EV battery components.

RAV4s are all-wheel drive on demand SUVs,  so popular and essential for Colorado winters.  The spacious trunk is large enough for skis and snowboards or loaded with high-priced groceries.

In some cases, there are government support programs for purchasing plug-in vehicles, depending upon location and state.

The test model price is high because the “Prime” model has every option made for driving reviews.  The heated seats, steering wheel, and rain-sensing  wipers with deicing function have been welcome during the recent snow flurries and chilling temperatures.  

There is a long list of safety features, including cameras that detect lane changes, rear traffic alerts, lane departure alerts and best of all the Safety Sense precollision system that prevents striking a forward object that we see more often on the crowed highways with rear-end collisions. 

The RAV4 Prime, along with the standard hybrids offers a glimpse into the future as many vehicles are becoming electric models with varying fossil fuel components.  

Fuel economy with the plug-in model is rated by the factory at 92 mpg and gasoline only at 38 mpg. In the test drive, using both, it was almost impossible to know which source  was powering the car except for the dash instruments.  Paddle shifters enhance the spirited drive and the Toyota continuous varia,ble transmission works excellent, especially in mountain driving with select gear choices. 

My preference would be the standard hybrid with the combination of the engine charging the battery system and no necessity to charge the batteries at home or at work.

The battery warranties range up to 8 years and 100,000 miles with consumers able to purchase rebuilt battery units at a lower cost for resale vehicles.

RAV4s of any make or model, hybrids, or gasoline are just outstanding products and loved by their owners for many good reasons.