2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid packs 302hp and 39 mile EV range

Toyota has a new plug-in hybrid, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, and it's not only promising to be the automaker's most fuel-efficient RAV4, but its most powerful, too. Indeed the new PHEV is actually Toyota's second-fastest model, period, following the Supra, with 302 horsepower to play with.

It means a 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds, Toyota is predicting. Of course, most SUV buyers aren't picking their truck of choice with drag racing in mind, and so the 2021 RAV4 Prime is also expected to score 90 MPGe in the combined economy test.

All-wheel drive is standard, and a combination of new batteries, new motor-generators, and a new booster converter give the SUV its 83 hp performance bump over the RAV4 Hybrid. That took 7.8 seconds to get to 60 mph, a considerable difference. There's a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle gas engine, which contributes 176 hp of the total figure.

The lithium-ion battery is mounted under the floor, and there's a new heat pump HVAC system that borrows tech from the Prius Prime. It helps cut down on range-sapping heating and cooling. Overall, Toyota is expecting the 2021 RAV4 Prime to be capable of 39 miles on battery power alone.

Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive uses a separate electric motor for the rear wheels alone. That only kicks in when traction needs demands it, or when you want maximum performance. There's a Trail mode that can brake a spinning wheel and then send more torque to the grounding wheel, and paddle shifters are optional: they increase the regenerative braking to give the feeling of downshifting into more engine braking.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard, with a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure alerts with steering assist, lane tracing assistance, road sign assistance, and automatic high-beams. Toyota will offer the SUV in SE and XSE grades, with the XSE adding rear cross traffic braking, and front and rear parking assistance with automatic braking.

The RAV4 Prime SE will get 18-inch painted and machined alloy wheels, a special front grille, and a front lower spoiler. It'll also have black exterior trim. Inside, there's an 8-way power driver's seat, a 7-inch driver display, leather on the steering wheel and gear shifter, blind spot monitoring, and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A moonroof, heated steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, windshield wiper de-icer, and rain-sensing wipers are part of a Weather & Moonroof package.

As for the RAV4 Prime XSE, there's a two-tone paint scheme, special 19-inch wheels, vertical LED accent lights, and optional adaptive front lighting that can steer the beam into corners. Inside, there's the paddle-shifters, a moonroof, synthetic leather on the seats, wireless phone charing, ambient lighting, and a larger, 9-inch touchscreen. A Premium Audio upgrade adds navigation and a JBL speaker system, while a Premium Package includes that plus ventilated front seats, a head-up display, 360-degree camera, and more.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid will go on sale in summer 2020, the automaker says. Pricing will be confirmed closer to launch.