In this episode of TFLoffroad, we had the chance to hit the trail with one of the coolest Toyotas available right now. That would be the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE. The RAV4 Prime has a traditional 2.5L 4-cylinder gas engine that makes 180hp. It is also paired with a series of electric motors, and a small-ish battery. One electric motor is up front making about 180hp, and another in the rear that pushed out 53hp. Total system output is 302 hp! 0-60mph can be achieved in 5.5s, which means this is the second quickest Toyota available (behind the straight-six Supra).
In its all-electric mode, the Toyota RAV4 Prime can drive for about 42 miles before the ICE engine fires up. Total range is about 600 miles with its 15 gallon fuel tank, which is just incredible for a small crossover like this. There are a few different drive modes, which include Normal, ECO, and Trail. There’s also a button that allows you to switch between Hybrid and EV mode. Lastly, there’s a charge hold button, which uses just the ICE engine, allowing the driver to save the electric power for more efficient driving. Our test vehicle is running on its factory Yokohama tires on 19″ wheels. As always, we’d love to see a smaller wheel with a chunkier tire for trail use, but we tested this RAV4 Prime as-is.
The night before our test we received two inches of fresh snow. Not only that, the new snow is is piled up on top of a solid sheet of ice. This is not going to be an easy task for the RAV4 Prime. Tommy lined up the RAV4 at the bottom of the trail in pure EV mode, with the Trail button activated. The Toyota quickly started to spin its tires. With a little momentum, the Prime clawed its way up without much issue.
In our experience, small crossovers like the RAV4 aren’t the best off-roaders because of improper gearing. The RAV4 Prime, however, solves that issue. Tommy found that he was able to drive at a pretty slow pace without getting stuck. The electric motors produce so much more torque than a standard RAV4 would. This gives it a lot more climbing power and almost simulates a low-range transfer case.
Further up the trail the snow got a lot deeper. The RAV4 Prime started to run out of ground clearance. Tommy had to be much more thoughtful with his tire placement to avoid getting stuck. Again, the tires lacked traction, and it was really easy to get stuck. With better tires and better underbody protection, momentum might work. But with the vehicle’s setup as it is, the risk for damage is just too high to take anything with a lot of speed. Tommy eventually disabled traction control. Even still the RAV4 struggled to gain traction, especially because disabling T/C also disables the brake lock rear differential. Eventually, Tommy made it up with lots of scraping. The vehicle really needs better tires and underbody protection for this kind of trail action.
The RAV4 Prime isn’t a rock crawler, but it performed surprisingly well on this trail. With a few minor modifications (wheels and tires), this could be transformed into a really great trail runner, especially because the powertrain simulates a low-range. We found the best off-road setup is to put it into EV-only mode, with Trail mode activated, and traction control left on. We’d really love to see a RAV4 Prime TRDoffroad as that would be a much more cable off-roader, but unfortunately you can’t spec the TRDoffroad trim with this awesome Prime powertrain. Stay tuned to TFLstudios for more off-road crossover tests!