Toyota RAV4: Which Should You Buy, 2020 or 2021?

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

Most significant changes: New RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid model; XLE Premium trim for the Hybrid; new skid plate for TRD Off-Road

Price change: $100 increase for gas models except TRD Off-Road, which goes up $500; $150 increase for Hybrid models

On sale: Now

Which should you buy, 2020 or 2021? If you want the RAV4 Prime, your only choice is a 2021. Same for the RAV4 Hybrid XLE Premium. Otherwise, try for a 2020; not much has changed other than a new skid plate for the TRD Off-Road model.

Toyota’s big change for the 2021 RAV4, its popular compact SUV, comes in the form of a new plug-in hybrid model, the RAV4 Prime. We’ve reviewed it and you should check that out, but the gist is it’s a plug-in hybrid RAV4 with 302 horsepower, a sub-6-second 0-60 mph time and an EPA-estimated 42 miles of all-electric range on a full charge (and then an EPA-estimated 38 mpg combined after that).

Related: 2021 Toyota RAV4: Everything You Need to Know

Toyota also padded out the RAV4 Hybrid’s trim levels with a new XLE Premium, matching the gas-only RAV4’s lineup, and gave the gas-only TRD Off-Road a new front skid plate.

Available in front- or all-wheel drive (the Adventure and TRD Off-Road are AWD only, as are the Hybrid and Prime), the RAV4 employs a standard 203-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Combined EPA fuel economy for the gas-only model ranges from 28 mpg for the AWD TRD Off-Road to 30 mpg for the FWD LE. 

The Hybrid also uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, but it pairs that with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack for 219 total system hp; it also switches out the traditional automatic transmission for a hybrid-specific continuously-variable-style automatic. Fuel economy for the AWD-only Hybrid is 40 mpg combined regardless of trim level.

Standard features for the RAV4 include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and more than 37 cubic feet of cargo space, according to Toyota’s measurements.

New Hybrid XLE Premium

Toyota says it based the Hybrid XLE Premium on its gas-only counterpart but with “new additions.” Opting for this trim adds 18-inch chrome five-spoke wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights, integrated foglights and a power liftgate. Inside, the XLE Premium includes dual-zone automatic climate control, vinyl upholstery, five USB ports (including two for rear passengers), and an eight-way power driver’s seat and four-way power front passenger seat.

Beyond the new RAV4 Prime, new Hybrid trim and, yes, the new skid plate for the TRD Off-Road, Toyota hasn’t messed too much with a popular formula for 2021, and price changes reflect that. Gas-powered models besides the TRD Off-Road increase in price by $100 over their 2020 model-year counterparts (the TRD Off-Road is $500 more), while the RAV4 Hybrid goes up by $150. Here’s the full breakdown by trim, with all prices including Toyota’s $1,175 destination fee. Note that FWD models can be optioned with AWD for an additional $1,400.

  • 2021 RAV4 LE FWD: $27,225
  • 2021 RAV4 XLE FWD: $28,520
  • 2021 RAV4 XLE Premium FWD: $31,225
  • 2021 RAV4 Adventure AWD: $34,330
  • 2021 RAV4 Limited FWD: $35,755
  • 2021 RAV4 TRD Off-Road AWD: $36,955
  • 2021 RAV4 Hybrid LE: $29,675
  • 2021 RAV4 Hybrid XLE: $30,970
  • 2021 RAV4 Hybrid XLE Premium: $33,675
  • 2021 RAV4 Hybrid XSE: $35,625
  • 2021 RAV4 Hybrid Limited: $38,205
  • 2021 RAV4 Prime SE: $39,275
  • 2021 RAV4 Prime XSE: $42,600

The 2021 RAV4 is on sale now in all its various guises, but unless you’re looking for either the Prime or the Hybrid XLE Premium (or you’re really set on that new skid plate for the TRD Off-Road), you might be able to find a better deal with a 2020 model.

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