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In the Market for a New 2022 Toyota RAV4, But Don't Know Where to Start? Try These Three

In the Market for a New 2022 Toyota RAV4, But Don't Know Where to Start? Try These Three

Which Toyota RAV4 is the best? We recommend not one, but three

  • Toyota offers three kinds of RAV4 models, and we recommend a version of each.
  • Our recommended spec is affordable and efficient.
  • Our worthy alternative saves you a few bucks on the price.
  • Our emotional choice supplies electrifying performance.

Now in its fifth generation, the Toyota RAV4 was one of the first crossover SUVs when the original model went on sale for the 1996 model year. In the more than 25 years that have passed, the RAV4 (Recreational Active Vehicle 4WD) has gone from an oddity to a favorite, spawning numerous copies along the way.

Last year, the RAV4 was the best-selling vehicle in America that wasn't a full-size pickup truck, and the compact crossover SUV is likely to repeat that success in 2022. If you're one of the hundreds of thousands of buyers who will buy a 2022 Toyota RAV4 this year, but don't know where to start, you've come to the right place. Here are three trims that stand out as the best value — one recommendation for each of the varied powertrains the RAV4 offers.

Please note that the images accompanying this article do not reflect the 2022 model year changes.

The recommended spec

If you're buying a new 2022 Toyota RAV4, we think the best one of the bunch is the Hybrid XLE Premium, which comes standard with all-wheel drive (AWD). It costs just $1,150 more than an equivalent non-hybrid XLE Premium equipped with AWD, and it gets substantially better fuel economy. According to the EPA, the RAV4 Hybrid returns 40 mpg in combined driving while the standard version musters 28-29 mpg, depending on equipment.

Furthermore, the2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a little more potent than a standard RAV4, supplying a total of 219 horsepower and the added benefit of instant off-the-line torque from the electric motors. You won't need to give up any cargo space either. The hybrid is just as roomy inside as the standard RAV4.

The Hybrid XLE Premium costs $34,650, including the $1,215 destination charge. Upgrades over the XLE trim include chrome wheels, simulated leather upholstery, a power sunroof, a power rear liftgate and more.

The worthy alternative

If, for whatever reason, you're just not interested in driving a hybrid, you can save money up front by choosing the standard 2022 Toyota RAV4. Our pick remains the XLE Premium trim level, but for this decision to make any financial sense, you need to kick the AWD system to the curb and go with the front-wheel-drive model. That way, you can save $2,550 compared to the RAV4 Hybrid in the same trim level.

The EPA says a RAV4 front-driver will get 30 mpg in combined driving. You won't benefit from the electric motor torque found in the hybrid, but the 203-horsepower engine offers acceptable acceleration without it. The 2022 RAV4 XLE Premium offers the same upgrades over the XLE as its hybrid twin and costs $32,100, including the destination charge.

The emotional choice

Toyota offers the RAV4 as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), and it's more than just efficient. With 302 horses under the hood and a 0-60 mph time of just 5.6 seconds, the2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEV is also a laugh riot (as far as compact crossovers go, anyway).  Aside from being quick in a straight line, the RAV4 Prime can travel 42 miles on electric power before it sips a single drop of gasoline. And when the battery pack does run dry, the RAV4 Prime returns 38 mpg in combined driving, according to the EPA.

Is there a downside to the RAV4 Prime? You lose a little cargo space behind the back seat due to this model's larger battery pack. The Prime supplies 33.2 cubic feet of luggage space, while other RAV4s measure 37.6 cubic feet. Otherwise, there aren't many drawbacks.

Yes, the RAV4 Prime is expensive and costs a minimum of $41,015, including the destination charge. However, this model is eligible for the maximum federal income tax credit of $7,500, and depending on where you live, there might be state and local incentives too. For example, the RAV4 Prime comes with a $1,000 rebate in California. That helps to take some of the sting out of the sticker price.

Two trim levels are available, and we like the base Prime SE, which saves you $3,325 compared to the Prime XSE. Of course, you'll need to live without simulated leather seats, larger touchscreen, wireless charging pad, and some optional features exclusive to the more expensive model, but you still get an efficient SUV that reduces the number of times you'll have to visit the gas station.

Edmunds says

If you're the type who hates to see yourself coming and going when you're on the road, don't get a Toyota RAV4. They're everywhere. But between a nicely trimmed interior, comfortable ride, distinctive looks and diverse powertrain lineup, we can think of a few reasons why you might join the hundreds of thousands of shoppers who will choose to buy a new 2022 RAV4 this year.