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Who’da thought? A RAV4 that’ll outdrag sport cars

TOYOTA RAV PRIME: Fastest, most powerful and economical RAV4 yet. Image: Toyota

JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng – The fifth-generation Toyota RAV4, on the market for barely a year, is being overtaken by the arrival in South Africa of the first RAV4 TRD Off-Road model as announced at the 2019 Los Angeles auto show.

It will, Toyota says, be a premium, fun-to-drive, RAV4 performance model with an estimated 225kW, advanced all-wheel drive, sport-tuned suspension, and exclusive design features.

It is also the first RAV4 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle so, in addition to 0-100km/h in 5.8sec (the second-quickest acceleration time in the Toyota family) it can cover about 60km on battery power alone – said to be the best EV range of any current PHEV SUV.

TOYOTA RAV PRIME: Fastest, most powerful and economical RAV4 yet. Image: Toyota

The Toyota RAV4 Prime, a 2021 model not yet certain for South Africa, will be available in 2020 as the most powerful and quickest RAV4 while also being the most fuel-efficient.


The newbies will be available in SE and XSE grades but each is said to emphasise athletic on-road performance and premium comfort and style. With plug-in hybrid technology advancing, Toyota sees such vehicles as critical to an overall electrification strategy that will include standard hybrids and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), along with fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

The RAV4 Prime amplifies both performance and efficiency, reflecting Toyota’s 20+ years of hybrid vehicle leadership. With more powerful motor-generators, a new high-capacity lithium-ion battery and a booster converter, the 2021 RAV4 Prime yields a 63kW jump in total system output over the RAV4 Hybrid – and has the most power in its segment.

TOYOTA RAV PRIME: Fastest, most powerful and economical RAV4 yet. Image: Toyota

”The resulting boost in performance is striking,” Toyota says. ”We project 0-100 in 5.8sec – quicker than the RAV4 Hybrid (7.8sec) and in a league with luxury/performance SUVs that come nowhere near this Toyota’s remarkable fuel economy.


”Notably, the RAV4 Prime uses regular-grade petrol – just not much of it.”

The SE grade is new in the RAV4 Prime and the XSE is exclusive to the RAV4 Hybrid with  18” painted and machined alloy wheel rims and an exclusive grille design. Piano black exterior accents and a painted grille/diffuser are said to complete the premium look.

The SE’s equipment is described as ”comprehensive”: heatable front seats with eight-way adjustment for the driver, 19cm info display, blind-spot monitor, leather-wrapped steering-wheel, power tail door, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

READ MORE Toyota features on Carman’s Corner

As on the current RAV4 Hybrid XSE, the Prime version will have two-tone paint pairing a black roof with a choice of colours, including the striking new-to-RAV4 Supersonic Red. Exclusive 19” alloy wheel rims, the biggest yet on a hybrid RAV4, have a unique two-tone design.

Inside, XSE steps up the sport, luxury and tech with RAV4’s first paddle-shifters, along with moonroof, synthetic leather, surfaces, phone charger and garage door opener – and the largest multimedia screen yet in any RAV4. The standard Audio Plus system comes with a 9” touch-screen and there is an available Premium Audio that includes Dynamic Navigation and JBL speaker system.

TOYOTA RAV PRIME: Fastest, most powerful and economical RAV4 yet. Image: Toyota

The RAV4 Prime employs the same version of auto AWD as the RAV4 Hybrid. In both models, a separate rear-mounted electric motor powers the rear wheels when needed, including proactively on acceleration start and in tough conditions.


The AWD also reduces understeer and off-tar enhances hill-climbing. A driver-selectable Trail mode makes it possible to get unstuck by braking a spinning wheel and sending torque to the wheel with grip. With paddle-shifters, the driver can “downshift” to increase the regenerative braking in steps.

As on the RAV4 Hybrid, the innovative Predictive Efficient Drive feature acts like an invisible “hyper-miler” co-driver. Using the available navigation system, Predictive Efficient Drive essentially reads the road and learns driver patterns to optimise hybrid battery charging and discharging operations based on driving conditions. The system accumulates data as the vehicle is driven and “remembers” road features such as hills and stoplights and adjusts the hybrid powertrain operation to maximize efficiency.

The ”new generation” RAV4 will be available in three grades. The GX grade is offered in manual and CVT variants (both front-wheel drive), the new GX-R grade exclusively in two-litre CVT all-wheel drive format, and both two-litre CVT front-wheel drive and 2.5 8AT all-wheel drive are available in VX guise.

TOYOTA RAV PRIME: Fastest, most powerful and economical RAV4 yet. Image: Toyota


RAV4 2.0 GX MT 2WD – R436 200
RAV4 2.0 GX CVT 2WD – R447 800
RAV4 2.0 GX-R CVT AWD – R531 600
RAV4 2.0 VX CVT 2WD – R528 800
RAV4 2.5 VX 8AT AWD – R604 100


Each will be delivered with a six-services plan  (12 months or 15 000km intervals). A three-year or 100 000km warranty is included.

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