If you are considering driving a new RAV4, you want to know the difference between the three models. With the gas-powered, hybrid, and plug-in RAV4, it’s important to know the various specs. A comparison of all RAV4 models makes it easier to choose the best one for your needs.
In this guide, I show you what makes each RAV4 model unique. I also look at the prices and features of every model.
The fully gas-powered Toyota RAV4 has been in production since 1994. The main difference between this and the other models is that it contains only a gas-powered engine. Here are a few of the specs of the Toyota RAV4 that are important.
The modern RAV4 includes a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine and direct shift 8-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence (ECT-i).
The RAV4 can be chosen with FWD or All-Wheel Drive Integrated Management (AWD). It also includes at least three drive modes: Sport, Eco, and Normal. Some trim levels also have additional drive modes such as Mud & Sand or Rock & Dirt. As far as towing capacity is concerned, this model is rated for a maximum of 3,500 pounds.
Because the vehicle has a different powertrain than the others, you can expect the RAV4’s mpg to also differ. EPA-estimated fuel efficiency ratings state up to 27 city and 35 highway for the RAV4.
The MPG varies between different trims and configurations.
The Toyota Star Safety System comes standard with all three RAV4 variants. They also include the following features:
- Trailer-Sway Control
- Hill Start Assist Control
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System with direct pressure readout & individual tire location alert
- Eight airbags
However, gas-powered RAV4 models also include Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.5). There are also a few safety features provided with Hybrid and Prime models that don’t come with gas models.
Most of the exterior features are the same. They include LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) and intermittent or variable windshield wipers. Every model has mirrors with a folding feature, although some may also have heated mirrors with turn signals or blind-spot warning indicators. They also include LED taillights.
The difference with the gas-powered RAV4 is the 17, 18, and 19-inch wheel designs. Plus, gas models can have LED Projector Headlights or Bi-LED Projector low and high-beam headlights.
The interior is the same, except for a few differences. All models include dual-zone automatic climate control, two auxiliary power outlets, and a five-seat capacity. They also include either a 7” or 12.3” multi-information display.
The price of the Toyota RAV4 depends on the trim level you are looking for and the options you add. MSRPs can also vary based on your location.
However, here are a few general pricing guidelines to keep in mind.
- RAV4 LE (base model): $28,275
- TRD Off-Road (top of the line): $37,895
A maximum of $5,575 can increase the price with optional packages, powertrain changes, and premium add-ons, such as special colors. This additional cost doesn’t include accessories, such as mudguards, door sill protectors, or floor mats.
It’s not easy to get your hands on any RAV4 these days. However, going with the gas-powered RAV4 is best if you want the shortest wait times.
If you can’t find a RAV4 on the lot of your local dealership, it doesn’t usually take more than one month to get this SUV. You can also find a variety of used RAV4 models at dealerships or through private party sellers.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The hybrid RAV4 model is similar to both the gas-powered and the plug-in Prime. Let’s examine a few things that make this variant different.
The RAV4 Hybrid works differently from the gas models because there’s a battery included. Some models include lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries (259.0V), while others include Nickel-metal Hydride (Ni-MH) batteries (244.8V).
Additionally, the Hybrid comes with an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT). This setup provides a maximum towing capacity of 1,750 pounds.
The other big difference is how the brakes work. The hybrid configuration offers an electronically controlled braking system with integrated regenerative braking.
As a hybrid model, this RAV gets better fuel economy numbers. EPA-estimated fuel efficiency ratings state up to 41 city and 38 highway for the RAV4.
Along with the safety equipment from the gas-powered RAV4, the Hybrid models also include a vehicle proximity notification system.
The Hybrid RAV4 includes either 17- or 18-inch wheels, depending on the trim level. It can also include LED Projector Headlights or Bi-LED Projector low and high-beam headlights.
While everything inside the RAV4 Hybrid is essentially the same, the biggest difference is how many USB ports are included. With gas-powered models, the standard amount of USB ports is three, while the Hybrid comes with five.
As with the gas-powered models, many factors are involved in the price. Here are a couple of estimated MSRPs.
- Hybrid LE (base): $31,225
- Hybrid Limited (top of the line): $39,530
Prices can go up another $4,175, depending on the optional packages and premium colors chosen. This does not include other accessories such as floor mats, door sill protectors, and mudguards.
It’s more difficult to get a RAV4 Hybrid than the gas-powered SUV. Some areas have availability, but you will probably be put on a waiting list that could take weeks to a year to fulfill in the United States. If you are in Canada or Australia, that wait time is even longer.
You may have a better chance of finding a model that’s used. However, owners tend to know what they have, so you can expect the price to be jacked up slightly.
Toyota RAV4 Prime
The Prime is the plug-in hybrid variant of the RAV4 lineup. While there are a lot of similarities, you want to know the differences before buying.
The RAV4 Prime has a sealed Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery pack (355.2V). The Prime can be plugged in to charge, which takes about 2.5 hours. In addition to the standard drive modes, it also comes with HV, Auto EV/AV, and Charge.
The Prime also comes with Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT). It also has the electronically controlled braking system with integrated regenerative braking.
The maximum towing capacity of the Prime is 2,500 pounds.
The Toyota RAV4 Prime mpg is rated at 94 MPGe combined miles. It can also drive up to 42 miles on electric-only power.
As far as comparable fuel economy to the other models, the Toyota RAV4 Prime AWD earns 38 mpg combined.
Primes have Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ (TSS 2.5+). They also include the vehicle proximity notification system, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic control alert, and a backup camera with dynamic gridlines.
The RAV4 Prime comes with either 18 or 19-inch wheels. It also includes Bi-LED Projector low and high beam headlights, acoustic noise-reducing front-side windows, and LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) with accent lighting.
The RAV4 Prime includes standard heated front seating, leather-trimmed levers, and a tonneau cover. These are optional features with the Hybrid and gas-powered models.
While the same factors exist with the RAV4 Prime MSRP, here are a couple of estimates to keep in mind.
- SE (base): $43,090
- XSE (top of the line): $46,210
You can also add on up to $3,385 in optional packages and premium color choices. This additional cost doesn’t include other accessories such as floor mats, door sill protectors, and mudguards.
It’s been very difficult to purchase a new RAV4 Prime. It’s highly desired, but there’s not much availability to choose from. Many people in the United States are still waiting up to 18 months, which is an improvement over the recent RAV4 Prime availability. You may also need to put down a deposit on the new RAV4 Prime.
In Canada, it takes even longer to get this hybrid model. Customers could be waiting between one to four years. Sadly, the RAV4 Prime isn’t available in Australia at all.
Which Model Should You Choose?
After looking at the comparisons, you may have a better idea about which RAV4 fits you the best. Sure, the RAV4 Prime will cost the most, but it makes up for that cost in efficiency. However, if you are looking at wait times because you need an SUV now, the gas-powered model may be your only option.
If the wait doesn’t bother you, I can’t rave about the RAV4 Prime enough. Because it has an electric-only driving range of up to 42 miles, you could use it for urban travel without ever buying gas. Anyone making short trips will find that this RAV4 saves a lot of money, although you should keep in mind that the purchase price is higher. This model also outputs more power for a more enjoyable ride.
If the RAV4 Prime is too hard to get in your area, you could also consider the Hybrid. It’s going to save money on fuel, especially during city driving. While it doesn’t offer plug-in charging, such as the Prime, this model does have regenerative self-charging for superior efficiency.
If you aren’t sure which model to choose, visit your local Toyota dealership for more information.
Which is the Best RAV4 Model?
All three have advantages and disadvantages, which is why it’s imperative to do your research. What may work great for one driver may be an issue for you.
Evaluate the options, check your budget, and examine the availability in your area. These three factors will help you make up your mind.