SILENT AUTOMOTIVE MAJORITY : Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota, recently gave the community pause when he announced there is a guarded belief among the “Silent Majority” in diverse vehicle propulsion technologies rather than an “all eggs in one basket” [battery electric] future. The assertion was really no surprise given that the world’s largest automaker sells but one battery EV, the low take bZ4X, while pouring resources into hydrogen fuel cell electrics and synthetic combustion fuel. Nonetheless, the Japanese automaking giant dominates the sum of all “electrified”vehicles with its plethora of gas-electric hybrids.
CORD- ABLE GODFATHER OF GREEN FAMILY CUV: In a potential twist of fate for gas battery electric hybrid vehicles an impending 2035 calendar year ban on new petroleum private vehicles sales in many jurisdictions would doom the single propulsion technology which has done the most to reduce vehicle carbon emissions to date.
Near the top rung on the transitional ladder to fully renewable energy driving, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles seem a no brainer means of current zero tailpipe emissions regulation compliance. Initially under fire for greater weight, complexity in exchange for limited all battery electric range, there is a new kind of cordable gas electric hybrid firepower. The 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime AWD PHEV is that kind of game changer among PHEVs.
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WHAT: 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime AWD PHEV 2-Row, compact family plug-in gas hybrid battery electric crossover sport utility vehicle. AKA a more affordable alternative to its Lexus NX 450h+ cousin.
Standard Power: 2487 cc Atkinson cycle, dual VVT-i DOHC 24V start-stop idle Dynamic Force A25A-FXS I-4 cylinder gasoline engine: 175 hp/ 165 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm; 227 kW (302 hp) net hybrid, Continuously Variable Transaxle, parallel shaft gearset coupled, P810 rear electromagnetic differential; 100:0 – 20:80 torque split, Dorsal steering wheel shift paddles arranged parallel to:
- 1 x 650V permanent magnet, synchronous AC traction / regenerative charging motor, front wheels: 134 kW (179 hp), 199 lb-ft, coaxially mounted with
- 1 x 650V permanent magnet, synchronous AC Hybrid Starter Generator: 8 kW
- 1 x 650V synchronous AC traction / regenerative charging motor, rear wheels : 40 kW (54 hp), 89-lb-ft
- 1 x 355.2V to 650 V DC three-phase power inverter
- Battery electric supply: electric supply battery: 96 Lithium Ion Polymer cells (contained in 4 stacks), heat pump thermal management, 355V, 68 amp hr, 18.1 kWh
- onboard charging port: 3.3 kW SAE J1772 Level 2 (6.6 kW optional on XSE trim)
- Level 1 110V AC 12 ampere charge = 6.5 hours from 80% discharge
- Level 2 240V AC 16 ampere charge = 4.5 hours from 80% discharge
- Level 2 240V AC 32 ampere charge = 2.5 hours from 80% discharge (Optional 6.6 kWh Type 2 Mennekes)
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: 5th Generation XA50 variant of modular TNGA K-platform, replacing the 4th Generation Corolla-based MC platform XA40. Wheelbase is a whopping 10′ inches > 1st Generation 3-door RAV4 XA10 series.
√ Car-based RAV4 demands truck-like recognition with vertically right-angle, layered wide hexagonal slatted grille & trapezoid grated mid-fascia, with vestiges of a lower hood snorkel.
√ Front fenders and dual creased rear quarter panels flare for prominent wheel arches. √ Swept-back LED headlamp housings commence beveled cheat line, rising tangentially to the C-pillar; √ Two-tone contrast color roof (available – included on test vehicle)
√ Thin, then flared D-pillar inlined by lower piano black fangs to upper body-color matching roof spoiler. √ Kammback rear liftgate split by sub-window chrome bar, spanning to underline inner arrow shaped taillight. √ Directionals wrap around quarter panels. √ Beveled and recessed lower center liftgate license plate field.
√ Front and rear simulated matte metallic skid plates w/ dark cladding stripes, and dark lower full body, lower liftgate & wheel arch cladding; √ Dual oval chrome tipped exhaust outlets.
XSE Prime cues: ♦ chrome banded protruding Lower air dam replaces faux skid plate; ♦ mid- front fascia corner fold vertical LED DRLs; ♦ revised chrome banded darkened grille chain links; ♦ body color rear Bumper cover; ♦ Blue aura “T” front grille and rear liftgate badging; ♦ fender “PLUG-IN HYBRID S” badging; ♦ rear tailgate left side red “PRIME” below RAV4 lettering.
WHY: Potent Cord -able version of America’s Number 1 selling non-truck passenger vehicle makes compelling case for plug-in gas electric hybrids.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since late Late Fall 2021
WHERE: Toyota new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Toyota City, Aichi, Japan
WHERE TO: dual traction electric motor all-wheel drive, e-varies front/ rear traction from nominal 100/0% to maximum 20/80%, ABS torque vectoring; +1 Trail drive mode + 8.6″-inches clearance
HOW ROADWORTHY: There are plug-in hybrid gas-electrics with modest batteries just to strike 30 mile at up to 87 miles per hour pure electric propulsion target. And then there is the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEV stuffed with nearly as much LiIon cells as a first series Nissan Leaf EV, delivering in 302 horsepower’s hoot worth of scoot. That constitutes and extra 83 net hybrid horsepower – or 38% more – with a more robust front wheel synchronous traction motor, than the guts in the cordless RAV4 Hybrid.
Toyota has gotten the electric motor to ICE handoff about as seamless as it’s going to get with their patented Synergy Hybrid 2 system. The authoritative rush forward reaction from goosing the throttle and the collective jaw dropping of neighboring 20% less potent but heavier Hyundai Tucson PHEVs and hanging neck and neck with four-cylinder Porsche Macans suddenly validates hybrids in an unabashed way. The Continuously Variable Transaxle can be steering wheel paddled into 8 “steps” but as with most of the band and pulley ilk, it makes more more thrashing. Offsetting the weight savings from a pricier and fraternal twin Lexus NX 450h+ implies a less thrashing isolated cabin.
Quicker flow damping and stiffer springs than on conventional Toyota RAV4s should improve agility in the 2022 RAV4 Prime. A lower center of gravity from the underfloor “T Shape” traction battery pack does stave off understeer inducting roll later into corners. Road surface impacts are noticeably ironed out with less jounce. However that pesky 20% (700 pounds) correspondingly greater mass makes itself known magnifying the unsatisfyingly inert steering feel. That the RAV4 Prime is prone to highway wind buffeting makes steering nearly laborious, something which occasionally trips up Lane Keep Assist. Enlarged disc brake rotors, now also vented at the rear axle, again suffer from somewhat less than linear pedal simply to blend with regenerative motor slowing.
HOW FAR: 39 miles per gallon, mixed fuel economy; 520 miles maximum range, 30 g CO2/ mile; 93 MPGe
- EV Mode range ≈ 37 miles at up to 84 mph
- Battery Hold mode preserves charge state for future intended pure electric driving
2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEV vs. Hyundai Tucson PHEV:
- +9 miles (+27%) EV range
- +11% rated combined fuel economy
- +16% rated MPGe
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ 5 Occupant 2+3 seating. Median sized among compact family crossover SUVs.
– For Comparison’s Sake:
- 106.4″-inch Wheelbase: 0.3″ < Ford Escape PHEV, 2.1″ < Hyundai Tucson PHEV
- Maximum cargo capacity: 15% > Ford Escape PHEV, 3% < Hyundai Tucson PHEV
- 2nd Row legroom: 1.5″ < Ford Escape PHEV, 1.7″ < Hyundai Tucson PHEV
HOW USEFUL: √ +1 Above glovebox storage shelf; √ 60/40% Split reclining 2nd Row seat backs; √ 60/40% split folding 2nd Row tilting seatbacks; √ Power liftgate; √ Cargo bay roll privacy shade; +1 Deep center armrest; +1 High perch forward view; -1 No remote cargo bay 2nd or 3rd row seatback fold releases, Loses sliding 2nd Row seat cushon and gains center hump to fit traction battery; -1 Tow Rating: 1500 lbs.
HOW SAFE: • IIHS 2022 MY Top Safety Pick Plus; 8 airbags; √ Rear camera; √ STANDARD Toyota SafetySense 2.0 = √ Pedestrian detection braking; √ Forward collision avoidance braking; √ Lane Departure Warning, Keep Assist w/ Trace Control; √ Partial adaptive cruise control; √ Automatic High Beam LED headlamps; √ 2nd Row occupant minder; √ PREMIUM PKG (OPT.): ♦ 360° surround camera view Perimeter Scan w/ park assist; ♦ Video feed rear view mirror
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: Treatments inside the 2022 RAV4 Prime XLE don’t stray much from the tried and true imitation SUV formula that has kept the entire RAV4 line at the top of the compact SUV charts. Media screen consumption / power flow graphics are not unlike any other Toyota hybrid. The TFT twin dial instrument cluster swap in a Power / Charge dial for tachometer on the right. The green hued variable view & drive mode colored multi-function display adds dim readings for EV range, EV modes, and EV percentage driving and a small charge graph when hooked up. The center console adds a switch for battery saving and a Trail drive mode. More typical RAV4 fare include soft layered panels with faux metallic embellishments, bezels cleanly group monolithic switchgear, assembly beyond approach. In these ways the Toyota RAV4 Prime keeps all simple offering a simulated truck aura with car-like comfort, without ever over-sweating details in a way that scintillate.
• √ Perforated Softex seating – heated Rows 1 + 2 outboard, cooled Row 1; √ Wide seat cushions √ Power 8-way driver’s seat, w/ 2-position memory √ Heated Leather steering wheel with spoke integrated redundant controls; √ Keyless entry, ignition; √ Full express power windows x 4; √ 2nd Row privacy glass; +1 Wide center armrest; +1 Generous steering wheel reach adjustment; +1 Long haul lower back front seat support; -1 Tall liftgate lift-height; √ Cup holders x 4; √ Door bottle holders x 4.
Cool Gizmo(s): √ Above glovebox, mid-dashboard shelf; √ Surround View Camera Perimeter Scan; √ Panoramic moon roof w/ power shade; √ Soothing blue foot well & door panel ambient lighting;
Details Done Right: √ Truck-like oversized, helical serrated climate control dials √ red Contrast stitched contrasting dark simulated leather soft-material dash & door panel inserts; √ Fine grain soft and hard plastics; √ Rigid ABS load floor panel;
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Hard dashboard top; -1 Embossed stitching on steering wheel boss, dash cover & armrest; Only small gauge cluster bar graph for battery charging capacity and electric range.
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ 8.0″ capacitive touch LCD 3-pane infotainment screen flanked by large soft-touch button switches; √ Adaptive voice command hands-free communications; √ GPS HDD Navigation √ Entune 3.0 wireless apps: Doppler weather, Traffic Updates, Amazon Alexa; √ Siri Eyes; √ Android Auto & Apple CarPlay wired app projection; √ USB x 5, 12V x 1; √ Qi inductive charging tray x 1 (center console aft); √ 110V AC 500W power inverter x 1 (cargo bay).
Audibly: √ 11 speaker, 800 W JBL HD-radio, streaming audio w/ Clari-Fi = powerful booming bass, slightly muddied highs
By Subscription: √ Sirius XM ( 90 days incl.); √ 4G LTE by Verizon (2GB within 120 days incl.); Safety Connect, Remote Connect (3 yrs. incl.)
HOW MUCH: $50,731 = 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime XLE AWD PHEV
WHAT’S MISSING: Larger center stack climate switch buttons, 6.6 kW Mennekes charger should be standard (and is for 2023 MY), More responsive steering to correspond to the power increase; More prominent battery capacity and range information display.
ANY COMPETITION: Ford Escape PHEV: +1 More car like look + feel; Hyundai Tuscon PHEV: +1 DCT, ; Kia Sportage PHEV: +1 Sports car styling