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The Toyota RAV4 has long been a popular SUV. There are many reasons why the RAV4 has found itself amongst market leaders. It's spacious, practical, and powerful, and while it's not the cheapest SUV out there, it's certainly priced competitively.
In recent years, Toyota has expanded its ideas about the RAV4 can be. The company started to branch out with a hybrid model of this SUV, and for 2021, there are two RAV4 Prime trims available. The RAV4 Prime comes in either the SE or the XSE trim, both of which are plug-in hybrids. With a starting price of $38,100, the RAV4 Prime SE is the more affordable of the two. The XSE model is priced at $41,425 because it has many more high-end components.
What's amazing about the RAV4 Prime is that it's the most powerful RAV4 to date. Some people may have to read that last sentence twice, but it's true that a plug-in vehicle is the most capable RAV4 that Toyota has ever made. This really goes to show how far the hybrid industry has come in the past few years.
Under the hood of the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, there's a 2.5-liter engine with four cylinders. In addition, there is an electric motor, and the combination of the gas and electric systems results in a net horsepower of 302. Towing capacity is 2,500 pounds.
How does all of these numbers translate to acceleration? Well, considering that the vehicle can go from a standstill to a speed of 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds, it's fair to say that the SUV is fast. Whether someone is a performance enthusiastic or not, there's no question that the RAV4 Prime will be fun to drive.
An electric all-wheel-drive system is standard on both trims. Whenever the road conditions are proving to be difficult, the system can shift the way it delivers power. Instead of the front two wheels getting all the power, all of the wheels will be the recipients of the power delivery in order to improve traction. With all-wheel drive, the RAV4 Prime is constantly monitoring its performance. Drivers are spared from having to fiddle with any settings to switch from front-wheel to all-wheel drive.
One of the main reasons that people are drawn to the RAV4 Prime is because it's a plug-in. When the battery has a full charge, the vehicle can travel an estimated 42 miles, simply on the electric power alone. In order to rely exclusively on the electric power, drivers just have to select the EV drive mode.
RAV4 Prime owners can charge their batteries at home; this would be ideal if the everyday commute is less than 42 miles round-trip. The number of public charging stations has been growing so that many workplaces and public parking lots now have charging stations. When using a regular 120-volt system to charge the RAV4 Prime, the vehicle's battery can be fully charged in 12 hours. Using a 240-volt system can cut that down to 4.5 hours. These faster charging systems can usually be installed in a person's home. Later in this overview, there will be a discussion about how the XSE can be upgraded so that it can be fully charged on just two and a half hours.
For longer trips or simply to spread out the usage of the electric power over time, there are other settings. The hybrid/EV mode can be very efficient, giving the vehicle an estimated mileage of 94 MPGe, and the hybrid mode comes along with an estimated fuel efficiency of 40/36 (city/highway) miles per gallon.
The real beauty of how the RAV4 Prime has been designed is that people can plug their vehicles in if they want to, but they don't have to. Filling up the tank at the gas station can be done to keep the SUV running. This gives people a lot of freedom and reassurance that they won't be limited in their travels.
Both models have other drive modes, aside from the hybrid, hybrid/EV, and EV modes. Those drive modes are Sport, ECO, Normal, and Trail, and they do exactly what you'd expect them to do after hearing their names. Most people are likely to be happy with Normal mode. Those who like things to be a little more spirited will appreciate Sport mode, and people who really like to maximize efficiency will get a lot of use out of Eco mode. Trail mode is what one would select to prepare the vehicle for rugged terrain. It takes a turn of a dial to change these modes.
Compare the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime SE vs XSE Trim Levels. What is the Difference?
These vehicles both stand out as excellent SUVs. They're fairly similar, but it's evident that the XSE has been designed for the consumer with more refined tastes.
As touched on previously, the XSE comes with the option to a 6.6kW onboard charger. The standard onboard charger is a 3.3kW version. If this option is selected and a 240-volt system is used, charging time is 2.5 hours. This is remarkable in comparison to the overnight charging time that's fairly standard in the industry.
When looking at these two models lined up next to each other, the difference in ground clearance probably isn't noticeable. The XSE stands 8.2 inches off then round, while the SE has a ground clearance of eight inches. In terms of leg room, both trims have 41 inches in the front and 37.8 inches in the back. Cargo volume behind the rear seat is 33.5 cubic feet, and it can increase to 69.8 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded down. Since the rear bench has a 60/40 configuration, there are several ways in which it can be maneuvered. All the seatbacks can come down together, just one can be lowered, or one of the sides plus the middle seatback can be folded down.
The Prime SE sits on 18-inch five-spoke wheels, and the Prime XSE rides on 19-inch alloy wheels of the the same design. Both trims have LED projector headlights to brightly illuminate the road ahead. Automatic high beams are a convenient feature that can contribute to people's safety, and the chrome bezels around the headlights add some sophistication to the exterior stylings. Complementing the LED headlights are LED taillights and LED Daytime Running Lights. The XSE comes with vertical LED accents and the option to get adaptive front headlights, which are lights that can adjust their angles according to what direction the vehicle is pointed in.
If anyone is interested in the two-tone look, he/she will have to go with the Prime XSE. Exterior paint colors include Magnetic Gray Metallic, Blueprint, Supersonic Red, and Super White, and any of these colors would look great matched with a black roof. The heated side mirrors, which have integrated turn signals, are painted the color of the vehicle in the SE and are painted black in the XSE. Adding to the more bold aesthetic of the XSE are red-painted shock absorbers.
While the Prime SE has the option for a power moonroof that can tilt and slide open, the XSE gives customers the opportunity to get a panoramic glass roof and a power moonroof. With this feature, rear-seat passengers can enjoy looking through the glass roof that's straight above their seats. Both trims have a proximity key entry system, push-button start, and a power liftgate with an adjustable height. In the XSE, the liftgate can be opened by sweeping a foot underneath the sensor at the rear of the vehicle. Mudguards and rain-sensing wipers are available on the SE and XSE.
Toyota has pushed hard to build comprehensive safety systems into many of its vehicles. The RAV4 Prime has Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 as a standard component. It includes pedestrian detection, automated braking to prevent frontal collisions, lane departure alert, road sign assist, and an adaptive cruise control system that can keep the SUV properly distanced from other vehicles. This is all in addition to the various vehicle stability control systems that have put in place to keep the RAV4 Prime safely moving in the right direction.
Blind spot monitoring is standard, but front and rear parking assist is only available on the Prime XSE. Also, the XSE's rearview camera comes with dynamic gridlines as opposed to the SE's camera that projects a path. A 360-degree camera is another option on the XSE, providing drivers with more detail about where they are in relation to other objects. It can be useful to use while parking or maneuvering around tight spaces.
The RAV4 Prime is a perfect example of how a regular model can be made to feel like a luxury vehicle. With its many convenient features, like a dual-zone climate system with rear vents, it can treat people to a comfortable and pleasant ride. Fabric is used to trim the seats on the SE, and it comes with red stitching and embossed seat inserts. On the XSE, there are SofTex-trimmed seats with the same type of red stitching. Standard in the RAV4 Prime are heated front seats and an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat. Heated rear outboard seats are available on both trims, though front-seat ventilation is only available on the XSE.
Even the steering wheels are advanced in the RAV4 Prime. The SUV has a leather-trimmed steering wheel with special red and silver accents, and there are multiple controls built into the steering wheel that connect to the audio system and some of the driver-assist systems. Further, the XSE's steering wheel is upgraded with paddle shifters. A heating element built into the steering wheel is available in either trim.
Style plays a role in what kind of vibe the RAV4 Prime gives off. The SE has black door handles, and the XSE has silver ones. Red accents are found throughout the vehicle, including on the dash. In the XSE, the red accents are also included on the center console, and they're matched with blue ambient lighting.
In the SE, there is a traditional rearview mirror. In the XSE, the mirror has a HomeLink transceiver in it, allowing it to connect with a home's garage door or another similar device. There's the opportunity to upgrade it to a digital rearview mirror with the XSE. This type of mirror can provide the driver with an increased perspective, thanks to the live video feed from a wide-angle camera placed at the rear of the vehicle.
Finally, one can't discuss modern vehicles these days without at least mentioning their technology packages. The Prime SE has an eight-inch touchscreen, and the touchscreen measures nine inches on the XSE. On both RAV4 Prime trims, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio keep people entertained and in touch with various networks and sources of information. A USB port is included in the SUV, along with four charging ports. There are six speakers on the SE and the XSE, but the XSE's JBL speakers are of a higher quality. Navigation is an available add-on on the XSE. When navigation is selected, the sound system is automatically upgraded to have 11 JBL speakers.
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Which Trim to Choose?
If anyone thought that there's no way that a SUV would be highly capable and also extremely efficient, the RAV4 Prime proves that assumption wrong. The RAV4 Prime SE and XSE are two excellent options for those in the market for a two-row SUV that's well-rounded, easy to drive, and packed with advanced elements.
The reality of the situation, though, is that it's a bit difficult to build such an upscale vehicle without having it cost a significant sum of money. For affordability reasons alone, the SE would be the one to pick. While it doesn't have some of the high-end features, like the available navigation, digital rearview mirror, or two-tone color scheme, it's still quite attractive on many levels.
The SE doesn't have the available 6.6kW charging system that the XSE does, but it still provides the option to charge with a 240-volt plug. Using this type of plug means that getting to a full charge only takes about four and a half hours. Remembering that the SUV can run on regular gasoline should alleviate any concerns about needing to keep the battery fully charged for all trips.
• Compare the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Trim Levels