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Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid

The Toyota RAV4 covers a wide spectrum of trim levels and powertrains. There are six different gas-powered models, including the trail-ready TRD Off-Road and upscale Limited. The XLE Premium grade joins the Hybrid range for 2021, bringing the total number of Hybrid variations to five. Like its gas counterpart, it's decked out with flashy wheels, SofTex-covered seats and a power tilting and sliding moonroof. Toyota also offers a plug-in hybrid version of the RAV4, aka the RAV4 Prime, in SE and XSE trim.

I've been fortunate enough to spend considerable amounts of time in both gas and hybrid versions of the RAV4. Last summer, I put the RAV4 TRD Off-Road to the test on paved roads and ranch trails during the Texas Auto Writers Association's Texas Truck Rodeo. It was comfortable around town and thanks to its all-wheel drive, Multi-Terrain Select technology and all-terrain tires, capable when the going got tough. I recently sampled one of its dual-power cousins, a Limited Hybrid model loaded to an as-tested price of $41,972. It may not have had the same off-road hardware as the TRD model, but it did have all-wheel drive and a Trail mode, so I made sure to take it over some rough Arizona terrain.

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2021 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid Exterior

Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid

No matter how it's equipped, the RAV4 looks made for action far from paved roads. No-nonsense black plastic on both ends, wheel arches and rocker panels is ready to take the hit from gravel and rocks so the paint doesn't have to. In many ways, the RAV4's design appears to be influenced by the hard lines and pronounced angles of the 4Runner. You can see that DNA in the way the headlights lean into the similarly shaped grille and the vertical openings that house the fog lights. The only parts of my tester that were round were its 18-inch "super-chrome" alloys and 225/60R18 Michelin Primacy all-season tires.

The RAV4 was one of the few vehicles with a hands-free power liftgate that instantly responded to the wave of my foot. It not only made loading bags after a trip to the local farmers markets easier, but it also kept me from looking like a sneaker-waving weirdo with two handfuls of artisan pickles and sourdough bread.

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2021 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid Interior

Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid

As the top-tier model in the RAV4 Hybrid range, the Limited comes standard with features such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel, SofTex seats with three-stage heating in the front row and soft-touch materials on the doors, dashboard and armrests. An eight-inch touchscreen display with navigation and 11-speaker JBL audio system provide the turns and tunes. The nav system was especially useful during my off-road excursion. It essentially left electronic breadcrumbs behind me on the screen that I was able to follow to get out of the jumble of trails I discovered.

Toyota piled every RAV4 options package it offers on top of that. The cool morning and warm daytime temperatures made me grateful that my test vehicle had a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats. I never had to worry about my phone running out of juice, thanks to the wireless charging tray. To my surprise, the reclining outboard rear seats were heated. There was plenty of legroom and headroom in both rows; retracting the shade for the panoramic glass roof made the cabin feel even more spacious.

My future mother-in-law was clearing out part of the garage, so I told her I would be happy to haul stuff to a donation center. I folded the 60/40-split rear seats down to free up all 69.8 cubic feet of the RAV4's cargo room, which was more than enough for a pair of medium moving boxes full of housewares, two lamps, a few small mats and a flatscreen computer monitor.

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2021 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid Performance

Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid

The RAV4 Hybrid's naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and front and rear electric motors produce a total of 219 horsepower and route it through an electronic continuously variable transmission. When additional traction is required, Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive springs into action and engages the electric motor that turns the back wheels.

My average fuel economy in the RAV4 Limited Hybrid didn't jive with the EPA's figures of 41 city, 38 highway and 40 combined mpg - in the best way possible. I put 156.9 on- and off-road miles on my media loaner and averaged 41.7 mpg, according to the onboard computer.

The dial between the front seats allowed me to select three of the four RAV4's drive modes. I turned it to the left to pick Eco and turned it to the right to choose Sport, which sharpened throttle response and added weight to the steering. Pushing the button in the middle of the dial put the RAV4 back into its Normal drive setting. When I discovered I live 15 minutes away from rocky trails, I headed toward the miles of painting-worthy mountainous backdrop in the distance. The RAV4 had enough ground clearance to get me over ruts and uneven stretches of terrain that showcased the suspension's articulation. Despite their lack of knobby tread blocks, the all-season tires kept their grip on the loose dirt - and their pressure even after rolling over miles of rocks. If the lithium-ion battery had been fully charged, I could've done some gas-free exploring.

The RAV4's fourth drive mode is Trail. When a wheel loses traction and starts spinning, Trail mode applies the brake on that wheel and routes power to the wheel that has grip. I had Trail mode on during all of my adventuring with the RAV4, but I didn't end up needing it because it was able to maintain traction at all four corners.

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2021 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid Safety

Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid

Almost all of my press loaner's safety features were standard equipment. The Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 bundle contained a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist and more. Blind Spot Monitor with Front and Rear Parking Assist and Automated Braking were also included in the RAV4 Limited Hybrid's $37,180 base price.

My media vehicle's numerous options packages added adaptive LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and an array of camera views. The Bird's Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan and Overhead 360 Degree View were perfect for parking with improved precision. I found the Curb View to be helpful out on the dusty trails, where I needed to make sure the front wheels were where I needed them to be on uneven terrain.

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2021 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid Overall

Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 model lineup spans a wide variety of different features, power sources and capabilities. The Limited Hybrid combines a square-jawed exterior design with a roomy interior and fuel-efficient powertrain. You can test it (and many of the other RAV4 models) out yourself at your local AutoNation Toyota dealership.

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Derek Shiekhi | Jun 07, 2021

2021 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid Specs


4-door, 5-passenger, AWD


2.5L I4, electric motors
219 hp, 238 lb-ft
CVT automatic


41/38 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★ ★   

AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.