Toyota RAV4 EV Mode

Do you see the “EV MODE” button on your RAV4 but aren’t sure how it actually works?

Don’t worry! You’re not alone.

We’ve received lots of comments from RAV4 owners seeking information about how EV mode works. It isn’t as straightforward as you might think.

By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly how it works and when to use it.

We’ll cover what EV mode is, how it differs between the RAV4 Hybrid and RAV4 Prime, when to use it, and more.

rav4 ev mode button closeup

What Is EV Mode?

EV mode stands for “electric vehicle mode”, which enables electric-only driving in your RAV4.

This means you won’t burn any gasoline while in EV mode. The electric motors and hybrid battery will run the car, sending power to the wheels.

Since no gasoline engine is running, the car will sound more quiet than normal.

How It Works

When EV mode is engaged, the electric motor takes over to power the vehicle, circumventing the gas engine entirely.

Instead of burning gasoline to generate power from the engine, the electric motors will draw power from the hybrid battery to drive the wheels.

EV mode is available on both the RAV4 Prime and RAV4 Hybrid, but the mode operates quite differently.

RAV4 Prime

The RAV4 Prime is a plug-in hybrid that has an 18.1-kWh battery pack, which allows it to drive up to 42 miles in EV mode.

However, there are some situations where EV mode can go even further, such as when you are descending a hill. The regenerative braking adds some charge back to the battery, so it’s possible to go even further.

On the other hand, the battery will deplete faster if you’re driving aggressively, going uphill, or have excessive weight in the vehicle. This means you won’t get as many miles out of EV mode.

Once the battery drains, the gas engine automatically kicks in.

You should be aware that there are some circumstances that can cause EV mode to be canceled automatically:

  • If the vehicle speed exceeds about 84 mph (135 km/h).
  • When power is needed temporarily.
  • If you press the accelerator pedal firmly or attempt to accelerate quickly.
  • If the hybrid system temperature exceeds normal parameters. This occurs when the vehicle is parked in the sun, driven at higher speeds, climbing a steep incline, etc.
  • If the hybrid system temperature doesn’t hit minimal requirements.
  • When the cabin heater is in use with outside temperatures below around 14°F (-10°C).
  • If the windshield defogger switch is on.
  • When the system determines the gas engine is needed.

If EV mode is canceled, the gas engine turns back on to aid the electric motors. If EV driving becomes possible again, it will revert back to EV mode.


RAV4 Hybrid

The EV mode on the RAV4 Hybrid is much different than the Prime.

The RAV4 Hybrid’s battery is very small, with a capacity of only 1.6 kWh. That’s only 9% of the RAV4 Prime’s battery size.

Because of its small capacity, you can only drive up to 0.6 miles (1km) in EV mode with a maximum speed of approximately 25 mph. In many cases, EV mode on the RAV4 Hybrid will only last a few hundred feet.

Honestly, the EV mode on the RAV4 Hybrid is mostly a gimmick. It doesn’t last long and only reduces noise for a short time. Most people feel the RAV4 gas engine is quiet enough on its own that this mode isn’t needed.

However, we’ll talk in the next section about when it might be useful.

There are situations when EV mode might not be operable on the RAV4 Hybrid:

  • The hybrid system temperature is too high. Temperatures rise when parked in the sun, driving up hills, or traveling at high speeds.
  • The hybrid system temperature is too low. Temperatures drop when parked for an extended period in weather of about 32°F (0°C) or lower.
  • The gas engine hasn’t warmed up yet.
  • The hybrid (traction) battery is low. This measurement is displayed on the Energy Monitor.
  • Speeds of the RAV4 Hybrid exceed about 25 mph.
  • The accelerator pedal is pressed firmly.
  • If the vehicle is climbing a hill.
  • The windshield defogger is on.

When the EV mode cannot be turned on or is canceled automatically, a buzzer will sound. There’s also a message displayed on the multi-information display.


When to Use It

There are many situations where EV mode is a useful tool, but these use cases are quite different between the RAV4 Prime and RAV4 Hybrid.

The RAV4 Prime’s EV mode is the most useful. You can use it to save lots of gasoline because you can rely on the electric motors for many miles.

In fact, if you only take short trips in your RAV4 Prime, you may find yourself able to drive in EV mode most of the time. It’s possible to go months without filling up the car with gas.

The RAV4 Hybrid’s EV mode won’t share the same fuel-saving benefits. As we mentioned earlier, it can’t even drive a full mile before the gas engine kicks in.

There are, however, some benefits that are shared between both the RAV4 Prime and RAV4 Hybrid EV modes.

EV mode is great for reducing noise. Perhaps you could use it to navigate a residential area early in the morning or late at night without disturbing anyone.

EV mode also helps reduce emissions. Not only is this good for the environment, but it can also be helpful when driving through an indoor parking lot or garage to prevent trapping the exhaust gases in an enclosed space.

How to Turn It On/Off

Turning EV mode on or off is easy.

Simply press the button labeled “EV MODE” to toggle it on and off. You can find this button near your gear shifter.

If it fails to turn on, you’ll be alerted with a buzzing noise and message on the multi-information display.

Frequently Asked Questions

The RAV4 Prime is estimated to go 42 miles on a full battery in EV mode. However, certain factors may allow the vehicle to go longer, such as when recharging the battery by using regenerative braking on a downhill road. Certain factors may also cut this range short, such as aggressive driving or continuous uphill roads.

You can drive up to 84 miles per hour on EV mode in a RAV4 Prime, and approximately up to 25 miles per hour in the RAV4 Hybrid.

Yes, the RAV4 Hybrid can run on battery only, but only for a short period of time under limited conditions. Read more about the restrictions above.

The RAV4 Hybrid switches to gas around approximately 25 miles per hour, however it may switch sooner depending on certain driving conditions.


Remember, the RAV4 Prime can be driven up to 84 mph (135 km/h) in pure electric mode, while the RAV4 Hybrid can only stay in EV mode up to 25 mph (40 km/h).

Also, because of the battery size, the RAV4 Prime can drive extended distances on pure battery power, while the RAV4 Hybrid can’t even go a full mile. These vehicles are simply designed for different purposes.

The EV mode on the Prime is great for saving fuel, but it won’t save much on the RAV4 Hybrid.

Thankfully, there are still useful benefits to using EV mode on both models, such as reducing noise and emissions in certain situations.

Let us know in the comments below: when will you use EV mode?

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  1. JG Berson says:

    Any reason the Hybrid does not have a bigger traction battery?

    1. RAV4 Resource says:

      That’s what the RAV4 Prime is. It has a larger traction battery.

      1. JG Berson says:

        I know that, but other than a bigger battery, the Prime essentially has only a built in charger.
        So why not just a bigger battery in the hybrid?

        1. RAV4 Resource says:

          It would be competing too closely with the Prime. Also with a larger battery, the car might not be able to handle charging such a battery without plugging in like the Prime.

  2. When I try to put my 2016 RAV4 Hybrid into EV mode, the display says that it is not available without any more explanation. There are times when I just want to move the vehicle around in the driveway and I don’t want to run the engine for just a few seconds (that’s hard on the engine, isn’t it?). Is there some way to force the EV mode to operate?
    I also notice that the engine does not always shut off when waiting at a red light. Is that supposed to happen?

    1. RAV4 Resource says:

      Refer to the info in the article about when EV mode might not work. Perhaps one of those situations apply to you (like the window defogger being turned on). Regardless, that is not bad for the engine. It is designed to turn on and off frequently.

      1. Jake Cole says:

        Yeah, re one of those conditions not being met, that could be the issue. How do you tell if the Hybrid battery is low?