2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE AWD – Review by David Colman + VIDEO

2022 Toyota Rav4 Prime XSE


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2022 Toyota Rav4 Prime XSE

The RAV4 is no longer sleepy!

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David Colman

Photos and story by David Colman
Special correspondent for THE AUTO CHANNEL

The workhorse of the Toyota family, the RAV4 SUV, has always had a lot going for it: affordability, space, practical features and economical operation. What it lacked was straight-line acceleration, smooth handling and interior refinement. With the introduction of the 2022 RAV4 Prime XSE – a plug-in hybrid featuring an all-new powertrain – the RAV4 has finally become an SUV fast enough to be fun to drive.


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2022 Toyota Rav4 Prime XSE

Until the advent of the Prime model, you could buy either a 203-hp gasoline RAV4 or a 219-hp hybrid version. But now you can opt for an almost 100 extra horsepower boost with the plug-in rechargeable Prime model that boosts power to a scintillating 302 hp. The base gas-only 3,510lb RAV4 makes do with a power-to-weight ratio of 17.29lb/hp, while the Hybrid improves that number slightly to 16.02lb/hp. The much heavier 4,235 lb Prime kicks the RAV4 into another league with a 14.02 lb/hp rating. Best of all is the immediate torque boost from the front and rear axle electric motors that complement the 165 lb-ft of the 177-hp gasoline engine. of torque. The front electric unit develops 179 hp and 199 lb-ft. of torque, while the rear axle unit increases power with 53 hp and 89 lb-ft. of torque. What all of this means in daily driving is that the RAV4 Prime is a true hot rod, boasting a 0-60mph acceleration time of 5.5 seconds and conquering the quarter-mile from a standing start in 14 .0 seconds at 100 mph.


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2022 Toyota Rav4 Prime XSE

However, the RAV4’s affordability suffers from the Prime XSE’s high base price of $43,125. Our Blueprint Metallic tester upped the ante with $6,391 in extras. The most expensive of these were the $1,650 Premium Audio/Navigation (with 11 JBL speakers, subwoofer and amplifier); and the $3,350 Premium Package (tilt/slide panoramic glass roof, SofTex-trimmed seats with red accents and stitching, bird’s-eye camera, kick-activated tailgate).

In addition to the Prime’s performance improvements, another key incentive to spend the extra money on the plug-in version is the operating economy. EPA/DOT fuel economy figures for the Prime are 38MPG in combined gas/electric mode and 94MPGe in electric-only use. The government estimates the range on a full charge will be 42 miles before the petrol engine needs to start. We took Marin’s Prime to “Car Week” in Monterey. A tank of fuel was enough for this round trip plus several jaunts to Laguna Seca Raceway. The Prime scores 10/10 on the EPA’s fuel economy scale, 7/10 on the smog rating scale, and will save you $2,750 in fuel costs over 5 years. On top of that, the Prime can also make you eligible for a $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit that applies to taxes due in the year of purchase.

Thanks to the Premium package, the dashboard of our test RAV4 featured a 10-inch touchscreen for navigation and infotainment tasks. The small RAV4s are content with 8 and 9 inch screens. The striking red seat accents and stitching continue across the face of the dash as well as the door panels. These refinements propel this Toyota’s interior a class above the more prosaic RAV4s. Both front seats are ventilated and heated. The driver’s seat has an 8-position power adjustment and a 2-position memory function. The interior is spacious and well stocked with storage compartments, a smartphone charger and a 120 volt, 1500 watt AC outlet in the cargo area. We particularly applaud Toyota’s continued efforts to install large rubberized buttons to control all essential functions while driving. This attention to detail even extends to the invisible grippy interior of the door handles. Space is the watchword here. With the second-row seats up, interior storage space measures 33 cubic feet. If you flatten the rear seats, interior cargo space increases to 63 cubic feet.


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2022 Toyota Rav4 Prime XSE


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2022 Toyota Rav4 Prime XSE


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2022 Toyota Rav4 Prime XSE

Not only is the Prime quick in a straight line, but it’s also incredibly competent when it comes to dealing with twisty roads. Beautifully detailed 19-inch chrome-spoke alloy wheels support Yokohama Avid GT radial tires (235/55R19). These tires complement Toyota’s compliant ride, but stick surprisingly well when you select the Sport setting from the drive mode indicator. Sport mode outlines the tachometer and speedometer faces in red, enhances ride quality and improves engine responsiveness by moving the Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT) into a lower operating range.


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2022 Toyota Rav4 Prime XSE

The most surprising and rewarding factor in the Prime equation is how responsive the transmission is to throttle input. By supplementing the 2.5-litre inline-4 petrol engine with not 1 but 2 electric motors, Toyota has converted the previously sleepy RAV4 hybrid into a surprisingly economical road scorcher.

TOYOTA RAV4 PRIME AWD 2022

    Engine: DOHC 16-valve 2.5-litre inline-4 plus electric motors on front and rear axles
    POWER: 302 hp (combined)
    TORQUE: N/A
    FUEL CONSUMPTION: 38MPG / 94MPGe
    TESTED PRICE: $50,731

HYPES: Surprisingly fast and fun-to-drive hybrid SUV

COLIC: Variable brake response

STAR RATING: 9 out of 10 stars

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