2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime
Elevating Everyday Driving With Great Versatility
This is not the RAV4 as I remember it from years ago. A remarkable fusion of innovation, spaciousness, and eco-friendliness, it redefines the boundaries of what a somewhat affordable crossover SUV can be.
By J-F Wright
Wed, Nov 8, 2023 09:26 PM PST
Images by the author, edited by Erica Wright
The 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime has come a long way from its unassuming roots. While it may not have been considered the hippest of cars in the past, the latest iteration, especially the Prime model, is loaded with features that cater to a wide range of drivers.
Staying true to Toyota's current design language, the RAV4 Prime exhibits a blend of rounded lines and bold, protruding lights. While it doesn't aim for an aggressive look, it manages to avoid the trap of being a mundane transportation device. The front grille of the RAV4 Prime incorporates the latest Toyota styling cues, making it a vehicle accessible and enjoyable to a broad audience.
The RAV4 Prime's growth is evident, and although it's not as large as the Highlander, it has certainly expanded its footprint. It doesn't have the practicality of a third row - which can come in handy for families or larger groups - but it is definitely larger than the RAV4s my friends used to drive 15 years ago.
The interior of the RAV4 Prime has also evolved to meet the expectations of modern drivers. The front seats offer comfort and ample space for both the driver and front passenger. The layout of knobs and dials is intuitive - the only buttons that on emight be unfamiliar with are those related to electric and hybrid driving modes. The infotainment system is on par with the current Toyota lineup, featuring wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a feature that should - IMHO - be standard in all modern vehicles.
The rear seat provides enough room for three passengers, even if one is in a child seat. Both front seats are heated and cooled, and a heated steering wheel adds an extra layer of convenience. The massive sunroof, more aptly described as a roof window, further enhances the cabin's ambiance, and probably makes it feel even larger too.
The JBL audio system is surprisingly impressive, delivering excellent sound quality that defies expectations for a RAV4. Sure, it's no top-of-the-line audio system that one might find in luxury cars (think Lexus, for example), but this system can definitely hold its own.
The cargo space in the rear has also expanded compared to its predecessors, making it suitable for family trips and even accommodating Costco runs. Again, the RAV4 is not the small-sized semi-SUV that it once was.
Technology and Notable Features
The Toyota RAV4 Prime stands as the top-of-the-line model, offering not only a plug-in hybrid system but also a wealth of tech features. Our review vehicle comes with a price tag of $51,294, which may seem steep to some, but it reflects the premium nature of this RAV4 variant.
The ability to charge the car through an outlet or operate it as a hybrid provides exceptional flexibility. It's a practical choice for city driving on electric power, with the convenience of filling up with gas for long road trips. Actually a really great combination, making it possible for folks to drive electric even if they're the type to go on road trips.
The heads-up display is a standout feature - not found in all vehicles, it's a pleasant surprise in the RAV4 Prime. Yeah, it's being offered in more and more cars, but seeing it in the RAV4 threw me off. That's great!
The surround video system is accessible with a simple button, you don't need to hop into reverse to switch the cameras on. This simplifies the process of when you're driving around the parking lot and find something you're going to nose into. Life is easier with a top-down view.
A unique feature is the camera-based rearview mirror, enhancing visibility in adverse conditions such as rain or darkness, by providing a live feed of the rear view directly on the mirror. It takes a while to get used to, but once you do it really is a nice feature.
Handling and Comfort
The RAV4 Prime offers a surprising level of speed, thanks to its robust electric motor ensuring quick acceleration, and a combustion engine that sustains power. While it may not handle like a sports car, it provides a controlled and stable feel, especially during sudden maneuvers on the freeway.
At highway speeds, the RAV4 Prime maintains a quiet and comfortable environment, allowing passengers to converse without raising their voices. You might notice a change of noise when the combustion engine turns on, but that's just a reminder that electric vehicles have yet to fully replace traditional engines.
The 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime is a strong contender for those seeking an electric vehicle for city driving, combined with the ability to embark on long road trips without range anxiety. While the price tag of over $51,000 may not be within everyone's budget, it offers a well-rounded package, making it more accessible than other premium plug-in hybrids on the market. The RAV4 Prime exemplifies how Toyota has transformed its RAV4 into an exciting and versatile option for today's diverse drivers.
About The Author
John-Fredrik Wright was born in Sweden, but raised on both sides of the Atlantic. His experience in the automotive industry starts with a summer-job as a host at Volkswagen’s premier showroom in Stockholm. Later, he worked as an instructor at Swedish Active Driving, teaching safe driving (among other things the renowned "elk-avoidance maneuver") and advanced driving techniques.