With the 2021 model year Toyota is adding two new entirely different hybrid vehicles to their line. By different we mean they will be plug in hybrid vehicles or PEHV, those being the Prius Prime and the Rav4 Prime.

It is the latter that we were given for a week to drive in mid-November as the weather was transitioning from fall into winter here in Utah, it seems that SUV’s will become more of the normal for us each week, so why not the new Rav4 Prime? Just the name is cool taking us back to the Transformer movies and Optimus Prime!

We knew right from the get go that getting a hybrid from Toyota was going to be special as we have been overly impressed with their output in the past and how they function. So far the company that has pretty much put the ‘hy’ in hybrid having taken a different approach to their designs and engineering.

These two new PEHV vehicles are a first for the company as they have not offered a plug-in version of a vehicle until now. This is an important point as they have stayed away from a plug but have come up with designs that get over 50 mpg like the Prius, in face we once drove an Avalon that did better than 40 mpg for us in a week!

With our past experiences in mind we felt it could only get better with a plug in version of the Rav4. Our test ride arrived fully charged with 46 miles to drive on full electricity, (Toyota claims only 39 on a full charge). Right from the start we had an advantage of 39 miles a day, the hardest part of the week was being disciplined enough to make sure that we plugged in every night.

For the first 3 days and over 120 miles we didn’t even hear the gasoline engine come on and as the Rav4 pointed out to us we had a perfect electric score of 100% with 0 miles of gasoline used and we were getting 3 miles per kilowatt hour. Putting that into perspective in Springville, our home town charges 9 cents per kilowatt hour for pure energy, not counting the extra charge to be hooked up to the city power grid, that we already have to pay because our home is on it.

For that first 120 miles we were paying just 3 cents per mile each time we charged to full for a total cost of $3.60. Last spring we had a gas only Rav4 that got 28 miles per gallon, not bad for the mid-sized SUV but cost us $10.71 to go the same 120 miles.

Quite a difference for sure, if your normal daily drive was under 45 miles you would hardly ever stop to fill the tank. We just had to find a way to get the gas engine running so we headed out on Saturday for Carbon County to explore the East Carbon Mountains. Our intentions were two fold get the gas engine running and see if we could find some mountainous terrain for the Rav4 to climb a little.

On the trip up Spanish Fork Canyon we did get a little help of 3 miles from the gas engine up over Billie’s Mountain, but went on all electric from there until the turn off for the Skyline Drive a distance of 37 miles from our home. We got that far running the heat, heated seats and some steep mountain grades not to bad.

We made it to East Carbon and headed up into the mountains on Whitmore Canyon Road, until we came to what is Water Canyon Road that turned to gravel and rocks. We followed the road and what appeared to be and old coal mining overhead delivery device that still had old cars attached to it and towers that went way up the canyon to what appeared to be the starting point years ago to get coal down the Water Canyon.

The Rav4 Prime handled it all with ease taking on the steep mountain roads up to around 9000 feet, where it the roads deteriorated more than we wanted to test out the Rav4. We choose to turn around and come back after seeing so great winter scenery on a beautiful November afternoon.

At the end of the day and week we earned an 85% energy score from the Rav4 and averaged 73 miles per gallon of fuel that we managed to use which was only like 3/8’s of a tank. And the best of part of all this great technology that has been added to the Prime is it now gets a whopping 302 horsepower combined, with a 0 to 60 time of 5.8 seconds. Making the new Rav4 the current fastest 4 door offering Toyota has.

Inside the XSE Prime version of the Rav4 was nothing but comfort from the heated and cooled seating to a huge full color heads up display. Our test model came with the new Dynamic Navigation System that will map your trips and take advantage of daily drive routes to charge the battery and use the least amount of gas possible for those normal trips.

On the safety side standard were all the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 options, pre-collision with pedestrian detection, full speed radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, lane tracing assist and road sign assist. Our test model also added rear cross traffic assist, front and rear parking assist and bind spot monitoring.

Power – check, stylish inside and out – check, great gas mileage – check, it’s hard to think of any reason why not to own this great mid-sized SUV, as it would seem to us that the consumer doesn’t have to give on anything to go green. Check out the new Rav4 Prime PEHV now in dealers.

Base price: $41, 425

Price as driven: $47,370

Craig and Deanne Conover have been test-driving vehicles for over eight years and have had the opportunity to drive many makes and models. They receive a new car each week for a weeklong test drive and adventure. They both love having the unique opportunity of trying out new cars. They reside in Springville.