2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
MSRP range: $28,800 - $37,330
2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Review
- Excellent fuel economy
- Comfortable ride quality
- Roomy cargo area
- Costs only slightly more than the non-hybrid
- More artificial brake-pedal feel than the standard model
- Front passenger seat can be uncomfortable
- Tech interface looks dated
- New midgrade XLE Premium trim joins the lineup
- Part of the fifth Toyota RAV4 generation introduced for 2019
For the past few years, the Toyota RAV4 has been one of the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. Here at Edmunds, however, we've been less enthusiastic. While the RAV4 is undoubtedly practical, it has enough minor drawbacks to make us recommend some other top small SUVs instead. But things are different with the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
The big difference is that we like the hybrid powertrain more than the regular RAV4's. Not only is it more powerful, but it also gets you better fuel economy — about 40 mpg in combined city/highway driving, according to the EPA. Toyota does charge a little more for the hybrid compared to the regular RAV4, but it'll be pretty easy to make up for it in reduced fuel costs.
Though small SUVs are quite popular, there are surprisingly few direct competitors. Only recently have the Ford Escape Hybrid and Honda CR-V Hybrid made their debuts. These three are pretty evenly matched, so it's worth doing some comparison shopping. And if you want something even more efficient — though more expensive — check out the Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid.
The RAV4 Hybrid promises the comfort of a roomy interior and smooth ride with the practical benefits of large cargo space and impressive fuel savings. It delivers where it counts, but it comes with small compromises to the driving experience and interior quality. It's versatile and among only a handful of hybrid SUVs, but it shares the regular RAV's shortcomings compared to other compact utes.
How does the RAV4 Hybrid drive?
Surprisingly swift acceleration, aided by the hybrid's electric power unit, makes the RAV4 Hybrid kind of fun to drive. There's always enough power ready for lively slingshots around traffic, and straight-line sprints are equally entertaining. Our test vehicle did 0-60 mph in 7.8 seconds. That's more than a second quicker than the non-hybrid RAV4 and respectably quick for a small SUV.
Things are less amusing when stopping — the brakes feel mushy and devoid of much feedback — and the same can be said of the steering. Still, the XSE's sport-tuned suspension helps the hybrid stay planted and stable around turns. All RAV4 Hybrids have all-wheel drive. It's not meant for off-roading, but it will definitely help provide more traction on snowy and icy roads.
How comfortable is the RAV4 Hybrid?
The RAV4 Hybrid can cover long and short distances in pleasant comfort. The XSE trim we tested handled rough patches and bumps with ease without feeling overly firm or harsh. As for the front seats, they are nicely sculpted and padded appropriately, but the seat bottoms begin to feel flat on longer drives. The passenger side's lack of adjustment can also make it difficult to find a comfortable position.
At highway speeds, the RAV4 is generally quiet. The exception is when you hit the gas for a burst of speed, at which point the engine sound gets rather coarse. The climate control system regulates temps quickly and distributes air well throughout the cabin.
How’s the interior?
It's easy to get in and out of the RAV4 Hybrid's front and back seats, and the roomy cabin gives four adults plenty of space to stretch out. The RAV4 doesn't feel claustrophobic, and there's good visibility in all directions. And while the rear seats are set low, the front seats are oddly high and can't be adjusted down. It can be an issue for taller drivers and front passengers.
Most controls are logically placed and easy to figure out at a glance. Unfortunately, there's still a long reach to the touchscreen. The tuning knob and buttons on the passenger side of the screen require a reach to use.
How’s the tech?
Audio and navigation controls are easy to use thanks to a large tablet-style display, but the graphics look pretty dated. The tablet is nothing fancy, but it does the job. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard. It's a good thing too since Toyota's native Entune software remains clunky.
Voice commands can handle basic phone, audio and navigation functions but require deliberate verbal input. It pays to spend time training the system to learn your voice — or use Siri or Google Voice instead. The inclusion of advanced driver aids as standard equipment is a huge plus.
How’s the storage?
The RAV4's cargo hold is nearly the largest in its class, hybrid or otherwise, and the load floor is low and makes loading items easy. The battery pack doesn't consume valuable cargo space, and the RAV4 Hybrid offers the same luggage space (37.5 cubic feet) as its gas counterpart. Tie-down hooks and a 12-volt power outlet enhance the hybrid's utility.
A small center console and a handful of storage nooks offer space for most small items, although a nifty tray lined with rubber grip spanning the length of the dash makes a good spot to park phones and wallets. Parents with young kids will appreciate the RAV4. It's easy to locate and connect safety seats to the lower car seat anchors. Forward-facing seats and boosters fit readily, but installing a rear-facing infant seat on the passenger side will likely require scooting the front seat up.
How economical is the RAV4 Hybrid?
You'll have a hard time doing better than the RAV4 Hybrid's EPA rating of 40 mpg combined (41 city/38 highway). That's not only impressive in its own right, but it's also a full 10 mpg better than non-hybrid RAV4 models. We averaged 35.2 mpg during our test, and that was when driving with an often heavy foot. Drive a bit more deliberately and 40 mpg is within realistic reach.
Is the RAV4 Hybrid a good value?
The RAV4 Hybrid looks and feels well built. Nice tactile touches abound, such as rubberized grips on dials and soft landings for elbows. The optional simulated leather upholstery is soft and pliable.
The hybrid doesn't cost much more than a non-hybrid, and in return you get better power and fuel economy. It'll actually pay for itself in gas savings during your loan or lease. Toyota's traditional warranty coverage is average, but the hybrid components are covered for eight years/100,000 miles. Free scheduled maintenance for two years/25,000 miles is generous.
The RAV4's most recent styling change gives it a tougher look, but there's only so much design aggression you can bake into a crossover. Much of the fun of stabbing the hybrid's throttle for a juicy burst of low-end punch is negated by its rubbery steering, numb braking and droning engine under high load.
Still, its zippy electrically assisted acceleration, taut suspension and modest off-road capability make the RAV4 Hybrid a solid all-around driver. Toyota has mostly succeeded in taking the bland out of the RAV4.
Which RAV4 Hybrid does Edmunds recommend?
We suggest going with the new XLE Premium trim level. It's less expensive than the XSE (last year's recommendation) and still packs a good mix of features. You don't get the sporty looks or retuned suspension, but we think it's worth the trade-offs given the savings.
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Toyota RAV4 Hybrid models
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid comes in five trim levels: LE, XLE, XLE Premium (new for 2021), XSE and Limited. All five are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired to an electric motor with a continuously variable automatic transmission. A second electric motor powers the rear wheels when traction is necessary, meaning every RAV4 Hybrid comes standard with all-wheel drive. Altogether, the hybrid powertrain makes 219 horsepower.
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Trending topics in reviews
- driving experience
- fuel efficiency
- road noise
- handling & steering
- ride quality
- reliability & manufacturing quality
- steering wheel
- electrical system
- wheels & tires
- maintenance & parts
- emission system
- infotainment system
- climate control
Most helpful consumer reviews
3/5 stars, Great but for 12 volt battery
LE 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I have the LE, which rides smoothly, gets good mileage, and is comfy for me, an average sized woman. Main problem is that after 3 months it wouldn’t start. The 12 volt battery on which starting depends hadn’t charged. It needed a tow. Dealer replaced the battery for free but told me I didn’t drive enough to keep it charged. Hmmm. I drive short distances 4 or 5 days a week. I’ll also need to leave the car at airport lots or camping sites in the future and worry about battery drain. A new car shouldn’t do this. Except for the battery, which is a big deal, I like it, but think Toyota should anticipate real people’s driving habits.
5/5 stars, Rugged beauty
XSE 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I’ve only had this vehicle for about a month, but I’ve really enjoyed everything about it so far. Overall, incredibly gorgeous on the outside, but you can also tell she’s tough on out the outside. Great size for me (5’3” petite female). Also excited to take it out to go camping/hiking and yet feel safe doing so. Color detailing is unique and beautiful—pearl white has microscopic pearlescent “glitter” on the white AND black paint (so pretty!). Drive: smooth, quiet, great turn radius, great backup camera, blind spot beepers alarm me (so helpful for me!)... one thing is that I notice how “loud” it becomes upon accelerating...but that makes sense since the car is already so quiet (like a golf cart!)...not a complaint of mine, just an observation. Interior feels luxurious and appreciate the heated seats/steering wheel (I live in an area with snow). Love the pano roof too! Audio system (JBL speakers) is insanely clear and can get very load...the only thing is the entertainment center seems so far away in reach for me and feel I have to bend forward and try extra hard to reach the controls. Engine-wise, no complaints so far. Haven’t had any issues as some of the previous models have mentioned (eg dead battery after few months). I am usually extremely diligent with routine maintenance for my cars, so I have faith we can also catch/diagnose any issues along the way before they get bad. There’s no wonder this vehicle is so popular.
5/5 stars, A hybrid that drives like a full size SUV.
XLE 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I've only had the RAV4 for a few weeks but so far loving it. I'm getting about 35 MPG (combined) but I do drive "fast" and tend to gun it from time to time. First off, the RAV4 drives quiet at highway speeds with stock Firestone tires. In sport mode this SUV can move---reports show 0-60 in 7.3 seconds and it feels like it. Toyota sense is nice---but I would recommend an XLE with a few upgraded packages. I like the additional BSM with cross traffic alert, automatic headlights, adaptive cruise control but like the addition of autosensing wipers and power tailgate. BTW, the problems they had with the 2019 and some 2020 models has been fixed---battery drain, roof leak and gas tank filling problem. I have the CR-V as well (2020) and both are great SUVs---both are quiet, comfortable and enjoyable to drive.
5/5 stars, Absolutely Love It!
Carolina 29f ,
Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
This is the most beautiful vehicle I have owned. It rides more smoothly than my 2018 RAV 4 SE. I am not having any issues with the brake pedal, that I read about in other reviews. I am not having an issue with the noise it makes when transitioning from the battery to gas motor. The interior is quiet. I love all of the features of the Limited trim level. I'm very happy with my purchase.
Features & Specs
- Base MSRP
- MPG & Fuel
- 41 City / 38 Hwy / 40 Combined
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.5 gal. capacity
- 5 seats
- Type: all wheel drive
- Transmission: Continuously variable-speed automatic
- Inline 4 cylinder
- Horsepower: 219 hp @ 5300 rpm
- Torque: N/A
- Basic Warranty
- 3 yr./ 36000 mi.
- Length: 180.9 in. / Height: 67.0 in.
- Overall Width with Mirrors: N/A
- Overall Width without Mirrors: 73.0 in.
- Curb Weight: 3690 lbs.
- Cargo Capacity, All Seats In Place: 37.6 cu.ft.
Our experts’ favorite RAV4 Hybrid safety features:
- Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection
- Detects and warns of potential front impacts, including one involving a pedestrian or cyclist, and automatically engages the brakes.
- Blind-Spot Monitoring
- Monitors your blind spots for other vehicles, illuminating a warning signal on the outside mirrors.
- Lane Departure Alert w/Steering Assist
- Monitors the vehicle's position in its lane and corrects the steering so the vehicle doesn't leave the lane unintentionally.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs. the competition
2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs. Honda CR-V Hybrid
Honda finally introduced a hybrid variant of its best-selling model, the CR-V. The standard CR-V is one of our favorite crossover SUVs, and the hybrid scores well in many of the same areas, including interior space, comfort and storage. Unfortunately, real-world fuel economy disappoints and the hybrid powertrain lacks power. The CR-V Hybrid also has dated tech, though the same can be said of the RAV4 Hybrid. Unlike the RAV4 Prime, there's currently no plug-in hybrid version of the CR-V.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs. Ford Escape
The Ford Escape Hybrid is one of the newest crossovers around, and as such it benefits from the latest and greatest Ford has to offer. While we're not particularly bowled over by the standard Escape, the hybrid is much better thanks to a smoother powertrain, respectable fuel economy and good in-car tech. It doesn't feel quite as refined as the RAV4 Hybrid, but it's well worth a test drive.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs. Toyota Venza
The Toyota Venza name has returned after a few years away, now as a hybrid-only midsize crossover SUV. We like the quiet, premium-feeling interior and comfortable ride. On the downside, the Venza offers less passenger space than the RAV4. It's also more expensive. But when you sit inside, you do get a good feel of where the extra money has been spent.
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Is the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid a good car?
The Edmunds experts tested the 2021 RAV4 Hybrid both on the road and at the track, giving it a 7.8 out of 10. You probably care about Toyota RAV4 Hybrid fuel economy, so it's important to know that the RAV4 Hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 40 mpg. What about cargo capacity? When you're thinking about carrying stuff in your new car, keep in mind that carrying capacity for the RAV4 Hybrid ranges from 37.5 to 37.6 cubic feet of trunk space. And then there's safety and reliability. Edmunds has all the latest NHTSA and IIHS crash-test scores, plus industry-leading expert and consumer reviews to help you understand what it's like to own and maintain a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Learn more
What's new in the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid?
According to Edmunds’ car experts, here’s what’s new for the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid:
- New midgrade XLE Premium trim joins the lineup
- Part of the fifth Toyota RAV4 generation introduced for 2019
Is the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid reliable?
To determine whether the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is reliable, read Edmunds' authentic consumer reviews, which come from real owners and reveal what it's like to live with the RAV4 Hybrid. Look for specific complaints that keep popping up in the reviews, and be sure to compare the RAV4 Hybrid's average consumer rating to that of competing vehicles. Learn more
Is the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid a good car?
There's a lot to consider if you're wondering whether the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a good car. Edmunds' expert testing team reviewed the 2021 RAV4 Hybrid and gave it a 7.8 out of 10. Safety scores, fuel economy, cargo capacity and feature availability should all be factors in determining whether the 2021 RAV4 Hybrid is a good car for you. Learn more
How much should I pay for a 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid?
The least-expensive 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid LE 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT). Including destination charge, it arrives with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $28,800.
Other versions include:
- XLE 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT) which starts at $30,095
- XSE 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT) which starts at $34,750
- XLE Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT) which starts at $32,800
- Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT) which starts at $37,330
- LE 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT) which starts at $28,800
What are the different models of Toyota RAV4 Hybrid?
If you're interested in the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, the next question is, which RAV4 Hybrid model is right for you? RAV4 Hybrid variants include XLE 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), XSE 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), XLE Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), and Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT). For a full list of RAV4 Hybrid models, check out Edmunds’ Features & Specs page. Learn more