Toyota RAV4 Engine Specs and Performance

Before deciding which SUV to buy, it helps to evaluate the Toyota RAV4 engine specs and performance.

There are some differences to consider between the gas-powered, hybrid and Prime RAV4. There’s more to performance than what the engine provides, which is why I cover fuel efficiency and shifting at the same time.

By the end of this guide, you’ll know if the RAV4 engine is enough for you or if it’s time to look at one of the other Toyota models.

rav4 engine

Engine Options and Configurations

It doesn’t matter which RAV4 is chosen, all of the configurations include a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The difference comes down to the additional hybrid battery power and electric motor. 

The gas-powered RAV4 only has the gas engine for power. This engine comes standard with SPORT, Eco and NORMAL drive modes.

With the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, there’s an added 1.6 kWh lithium-ion battery and electric motors. Additional drive modes include EV and TRAIL. 

As a plug-in hybrid, the RAV4 Prime features a 355.2V lithium-ion battery that provides a 6.6-kW charging time of 2.5 hours at 240 volts. It also includes several added drive modes, such as HV, CHARGE and AUTO EV/HV. 

The other big difference between these models is the drivetrain. With the gas-powered RAV4, you have an option between front- and all-wheel drive, but the hybrids only include standard all-wheel drive. AWD offers better traction and control on slippery surfaces, so it may be preferable depending on what type of environment you drive in. 

Acceleration and Power

The power output is different between the three RAV4 models. Horsepower ratings on the RAV4 are 203 and it features 184 lb-ft of torque. In comparison, the RAV4 Hybrid is rated at 219 combined horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque, while the RAV4 Prime boasts 302 horsepower and 165 lb-ft of torque. 

How does this power feel different on the road?

Jonathan (our content director) feels that the RAV4 gas model is the weakest in the acceleration and responsiveness categories. Yet, it never comes across as underpowered during a daily drive. 

While the RAV4 Hybrid doesn’t necessarily feel like it has much more power, it seems more responsive. It reacts to inputs in a shorter time, making it a more enjoyable ride. 

With that said, the RAV4 Prime is undoubtedly one of the most powerful offered in the Toyota lineup. This hybrid provides the best response and superior power compared to the other models. When merging on the highway, this would be the best RAV4 to choose. 

With a quick look at RAV4 towing capacity, there’s also a notable difference between models. 

The 2024 RAV4 (gas-powered) tows a maximum of 3,500 pounds with the towing package. In comparison, the 2024 RAV4 Hybrid is rated for up to 1,750 pounds, while the RAV4 Prime can take on a maximum of 2,500 pounds. 

Therefore, if towing is your primary concern, the gas-powered model may be the best option. It features a higher tow rating than the Subaru Forester, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5, Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue. 

Fuel Efficiency

One of the most impressive features of the RAV4 lineup is the fuel economy. The RAV4 Hybrid AWD earns the best-combined score of 39 mpg. Yet, the RAV4 Prime performs similarly, with a combined rating of 38 mpg. Even the gas-powered RAV4 earns a combined rating of 30 mpg.

These ratings are better than the Honda CR-V, Lexus NX, Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Rogue and Chevy Trailblazer.

Based on the RAV4 mpg ratings, the Hybrid and Prime excel in city driving, so both are a great option for urban travel. With the ability to drive up to 42 miles on pure electric energy, the Prime could be operated without filling up the fuel tank for short distances. 

For that reason, it’s best to consider your driving environment before choosing a RAV4. 

Transmission Options

These RAV4 models do come with varying transmission options. All gas-powered RAV4s come with a Direct Shift 8-speed Electronically Controlled automatic transmission. With the intelligence (ECT-i) and sequential shift mode, drivers are in for an enjoyable driving experience.

Does the Toyota RAV4 have a CVT? Yes, both Hybrid models include an Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT) with sequential shift mode.

Sadly, there’s no RAV4 manual transmission offered on any of the new models. If you prefer to drive a stick shift, you may be able to purchase a used RAV4 with one. This option was available in 1996 to 2005 RAV4s. 

However, there are some downsides to using a manual transmission. First, it’s unlikely that this RAV4 is going to have any warranty coverage. Driving an automatic RAV4 also creates less stress and is easier to resell in the long run. It’s also the easiest option when you are stuck in stop-and-go traffic. 

(Toyota RAV4, Toyota RAV4 Prime)

Giving You the Power Needed

It’s no surprise that the RAV4 has the power needed to enjoy the open road. Compared with other SUVs in the same class, the RAV4 is truly impressive, especially at its price point. The only difficulty comes down to determining which option is best for your driving needs.

If you spend a lot of time navigating city streets, you may find the efficiency of the RAV4 Prime to be a great option. You just have to consider the RAV4 Prime availability, which means you could wait for a new ride. The RAV4 Hybrid availability is a little better and offers a slight taste of both models, so it might be the perfect compromise. 

At the end of the day, it’s best to visit a local Toyota dealership to see availability and examine the features of each RAV4 model. 

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