A new Toyota vs. Ford rivalry is beginning, and we’re not talking about Supra vs. Mustang. With the new 2021 Toyota RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid, Toyota’s best-selling compact SUV sets the stage for a two-row SUV battle between the 2021 RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid and the 2020 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid. You can see the 2021 RAV4 PHEV here in the model’s new Supersonic Red paint color, or check it out for yourself when the new Toyota makes its official debut at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show on November 20.
When we tested the existing RAV4 hybrid model, we said “this powertrain is worth it.” We’ve had mixed feelings overall on the 2019 and 2020 Toyota RAV4; a non-hybrid model placed fourth in an eight-way comparison the Honda CR-V won. Think of the 2021 RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid as an environmental flagship for the model. Toyota says the new RAV4 model will have “spirited acceleration” and be the most powerful model you can get, which means you can count on at least 220 hp (the RAV4 Hybrid makes 219 combined system hp).
That’s great, and the black-over-red paint reminds us of a Ford Escape we saw at the Frankfurt auto show, but the real question on the 2021 RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid is range. If you’re considering AWD plug-in hybrid SUVs to fit the entire family, the Subaru Crosstrek PHEV probably won’t meet your needs. But the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV might, as should the new Ford Escape PHEV. We don’t yet know the RAV4 PHEV’s electric range before the gas engine kicks in, but it should have no problem passing the older Mitsubishi’s 22-mile EPA range. Ford hasn’t revealed the Escape PHEV’s EV range yet, but promises at least 30 miles—which would entirely cover shorter commutes.
The next question we have is about the 2021 RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid’s cargo space. Although those specs haven’t yet been revealed, we can tell you that the non-PHEV hybrid model doesn’t lose any space compared to the non-hybrid models. What kind of sacrifice the 2021 RAV4’s plug-in hybrid model will require in space for people or their stuff remains to be seen.
As a model-line flagship, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid will definitely have a higher price. Currently, the RAV4 Hybrid costs a moderate $2,200 across the lineup (except on the hybrid-exclusive XSE). The transition from hybrid to plug-in hybrid isn’t that expensive on most Prius to Prius Prime trims, so we’d guess a 2021 Toyota RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid in an XLE trim may carry a price of just under $33,000 (including destination). This means that just like its Mitsubishi and Ford competition, a loaded 2021 RAV4 in a Limited or XSE trim will cost well over $40,000
We look forward to driving these plug-in hybrids—not to mention the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid—as soon as we can get our hands on the SUVs. Circle back to MotorTrend.com for more on the 2021 Toyota RAV4 once the PHEV model makes its official debut in November at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show.