Hyundai Tucson plug-in hybrid vs. Toyota RAV4 Prime: Compare Crossover SUVs

The Hyundai Tucson plug-in hybrid intends to dethrone the Toyota RAV4 Prime from its perch as king of the hybrid hill. The redesigned compact crossover chases the perennial bestseller in this class in most categories except for style, space, and most importantly, price. 

Squared off against each other, the deciding factor might not be the RAV4 Prime’s excellent 42 miles of electric only range, or the Tucson PHEV’s lower $36,625 starting price. In our showdown, it comes down to comfort, and which one more evenly provides a bridge from the internal combustion engine into the electric era.

Hyundai Tucson PHEV trims vs. Toyota RAV4 Prime trims

  • Tucson PHEV comes in SEL and top Limited trims

  • Toyota RAV4 Prime comes in SE and XSE trims 

  • Best picks: The Tucson SEL undercuts the Prime SE, but the top trims are priced the same at $45,000. 

Both plug-in hybrid models come with two trim choices and the same powertrain system in each. What’s our pick for both here?

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

Hyundai Tucson PHEV price vs. Toyota RAV4 Prime price

  • Hyundai Tucson PHEV starts at $37,000

  • Toyota RAV4 Prime starts at $42,000

  • Neither vehicle qualifies for the new federal EV tax credit 

How much is a Hyundai Tucson PHEV? 

The Tucson PHEV undercuts the RAV4 Prime with the base SEL costing about $37,000 while top Limited trims cost $45,000. The es with a better 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain and battery system warranties.

How much is a Toyota RAV4 Prime?

The RAV4 Prime SE starts at about $42,000, and the top XSE costs $45,000. Its large 18.1-kwh battery pack qualified for the full $7,500 tax credit, but because its final assembly point is Japan, it no longer qualifies for the new federal EV tax credit under the Inflation Reduction Act. The Hyundai Tucson PHEV is in the same boat. 

The RAV4 Prime carries a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, but the battery carries a 10-year/150,000-mile warranty. 

2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV

2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV

2022 Hyundai Tucson Plug-In Hybrid test drive, Nashville, TN

2022 Hyundai Tucson Plug-In Hybrid test drive, Nashville, TN

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime track driving  -  NWAPA  -  September 2021

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime track driving – NWAPA – September 2021

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

Hyundai Tucson PHEV range vs. Toyota RAV4 Prime range and efficiency

  • Hyundai Tucson PHEV range: 33 miles of electric range, 35 mpg combined on gas only, the equivalent of 80 mpg with gas and electric; it has a 420-mile range

  • Toyota RAV4 Prime range: 42 miles of electric range, 38 mpg combined on gas only, the equivalent of 94 mpg with gas and electric; it has a 600-mile range

  • The Toyota RAV4’s range and efficiency can’t be matched 

The Toyota RAV4 Prime has a larger 18.1-kwh battery pack, a more efficient Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline-4 engine, and a larger 14.5-gallon gas tank. Once the 42 miles of electric range expire, the Prime still gets a remarkable 38 mpg combined on gas alone, according to the EPA. Combined, the RAV4 Prime gets the equivalent of 94 mpg. By every measure except for a 155-lb weight difference, it is more efficient and goes farther than the Tucson PHEV. 

The Tucson PHEV falls short of the Prime’s mechanicals with a 33-mile electric range. It has an EPA-rated 35 mpg combined on gas only, but the total system averages out to the equivalent of 80 mpg. It uses a smaller 1.6-liter turbo-4, but unlike the RAV4 Prime it only has a single motor mounted at the front axle. It’s fed by a 13.8-kwh battery pack, and the gas tank measures up to 11.1 gallons. 

Bear in mind that the efficiency pays off around town in either vehicle, but diminishes to no net advantage on the highway. So for highway drivers, the plug-in hybrid upcharge for either might not make cents, ahem, on the long haul.

2022 Hyundai Tucson Plug-In Hybrid test drive, Nashville, TN

2022 Hyundai Tucson Plug-In Hybrid test drive, Nashville, TN

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

Hyundai Tucson PHEV performance vs. Toyota RAV4 Prime performance

  • The Hyundai Tucson PHEV is built more for comfort than speed

  • With a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds, the RAV4 Prime is the quickest Toyota this side of the Supra.  

  • Quickness off the line characterizes both electrified vehicles 

The RAV4 Prime base SE weighs 4,235 lb compared to the Tucson SEL tipping the scales at 4,081 lb. But the RAV4 Prime’s superlative powertrain shrugs off the 20% weight gain over its gas-only model. A motor at both axles pair with a 2.5-liter inline-4 to make a total system output of 302 hp. There’s a lot going on to shuttle the Prime to 0-60 mph in just 5.7 seconds, which qualifies as the fastest Toyota this side of the Supra sports coupe. It’s effortless to the driver, and quieter than the gas RAV4. 

The Tucson PHEV uses a smaller 1.6-liter turbo-4, but unlike the RAV4 Prime it only has a single motor mounted at the front axle. It’s fed by a 13.8-kwh battery pack, and the combined output is 261 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The Tucson PHEV works harder to counter the weight gain over the RAV4 Prime, and lacks its quickness off the line. 

A 6-speed automatic transmission tunnels power to the rear wheels when needed but like the RAV4 Prime it mostly defers to front-wheel drive. It might be quieter than the RAV4 Prime, even with the 6-speed, which shifts along unobtrusively until pushed hard. It can tow 2,000 lb compared to 2,500 lb in the Prime.

Is the Hyundai Tucson PHEV faster than a Toyota RAV4 Prime?

No, the RAV4 Prime is much quicker and the second quickest vehicle in Toyota’s lineup. It sprints to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. The Tucson PHEV trails it at about seven seconds, which is still two seconds quicker than the gas Tucson.  

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

Hyundai Tucson PHEV handling vs. Toyota RAV4 Prime handling

  • The Hyundai Tucson PHEV has 8.3 inches of ground clearance

  • In EV mode, the RAV4 Prime handles modest off-road courses 

  • Standard AWD adds grip in both models

Both ride on a front-strut, multi-link rear suspension that isolates the cabin from road scars. Both handle with the body fat of compact crossovers, albeit heavier and with more pronounced lean the further they’re pushed into corners. The extra weight can lead to bounding when encountering big pavement gaps, but the ride in each is composed, with the Tucson riding a little softer and comfier. 

The RAV4 Prime’s 8.0-inches of ground clearance and dual-motor setup makes it a better off-road vehicle. In EV mode, the two motors deliver plenty of low-end torque to crawl and scrabble. The throttle can be squishier in EV mode, but it’s linear so it’s easy to modulate.  

Toyota mutes the cabin with laminated front side windows and other sound damping materials, 

The Tucson PHEV rides a little taller and has a ground clearance of 8.3 inches, but without the extra motor on the rear axle, it doesn’t instill the same level of modest off-road adventuring. 

2022 Hyundai Tucson Plug-In Hybrid test drive, Nashville, TN

2022 Hyundai Tucson Plug-In Hybrid test drive, Nashville, TN

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

Hyundai Tucson PHEV technology vs. Toyota RAV4 Prime technology

  • Hyundai Tucson PHEV still doesn’t have wireless smartphone connectivity with the larger 10.3-inch touchscreen

  • The RAV4 Prime still runs Toyota’s old infotainment system

  • Hyundai’s infotainment system is much more advanced, but the Toyota still has climate dials

Both models come with an 8.0-inch touchscreen standard, but Hyundai’s is far ahead in the user experience than the RAV4 Prime, which still uses Toyota’s outdated infotainment system. The Tucson PHEV comes with wireless smartphone compatibility, except with the larger 10.3-inch touchscreen on the Limited trim, which is complemented by a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster with clear readouts and simple access to the most vital info. Toyota’s layout is more conservative but also more familiar for shoppers who haven’t bought a new car in a decade. Wireless smartphone chargers come standard on the top grades of both models, but Hyundai better equips its top Limited grade with Bose speakers, more driver-assist tech. 

Hyundai Tucson PHEV interior vs. Toyota RAV4 Prime interior

  • Hyundai Tucson PHEV has a more integrated style

  • Toyota RAV4 Prime holds onto the old but familiar, like the flannel jacket in the closet

  • Too much gloss black plastic smudges the look of both cabins

The interior favors the Tucson plug-in hybrid. The center console is fitted with more accessible storage pockets, whereas the RAV4 Prime still uses a mechanical gear shifter that cramps usable console space. The RAV4 Prime’s 8.0-inch or 9.0-inch touchscreen juts out of the dash like an afterthought. The newer Tucson envelopes the infotainment screen into the dash design. The RAV4 Prime’s advantage is physical climate dials and buttons, instead of the haptic touch elements stamped between the high-gloss black plastic surrounds of the Tucson. 

The Tucson has more leg room front and back, but an available moonroof on either car eats into head room. The RAV4 has slightly more cargo room at 33.5 cubic feet compared to 31.9 cubes in the Tucson. Flip down the 60/40-split rear seats, and the roomier second row in the Tucson equates to more total cargo room by more than three cubic feet. The Tucson has storage pockets under the floor afforded by its tire inflator kit, whereas the RAV4’s spare eats up the underfloor room. 

Hyundai Tucson PHEV safety vs. Toyota RAV4 Prime safety

  • Hyundai Tucson has a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS

  • Toyota RAV4 Prime has a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS

  • In addition to good crash-test results, both models come with good standard driver-assist technology. 

Both models come standard with driver-assist features such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors, but Toyota includes adaptive cruise control. 

The Hyundai has better options, however, with a blind-spot camera that projects what’s coming up behind you into the instrument cluster. The surround-view camera system comes standard on the top trim, whereas Toyota still makes it extra. 

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime track driving  -  NWAPA  -  September 2021

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime track driving – NWAPA – September 2021

Hyundai Tucson PHEV charging vs. Toyota RAV4 Prime charging

  • Hyundai Tucson PHEV takes less than two hours to charge on a 240-volt Level 2 charger

  • Toyota RAV4 Prime takes 2.5 hours to charge on a 240-volt Level 2

  • It’s no surprise that Toyota’s bigger battery takes longer to charge, but the RAV4 Prime has a smaller on-board charger as well

Hyundai uses a 7.2-kw on-board charger that helps it recharge in less than two hours with a 240-volt connection. It’ll take about 10 hours on a standard 120-volt Level 1 outlet, but Hyundai doesn’t quote an official time.

The RAV4 Prime has only a 3.3-kw on-board charger for the base model, which takes 12 hours to charge on a 120-volt circuit with 12 amps, or 4.5 hours on a 240-volt circuit with 16 amps. The XSE model comes with a 6.6-kw on-board charger that accepts a 240-volt charge at 32 amps, dropping the charge time to 2.5 hours.    

Winner: 2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV

Our unique TCC Rating system doesn’t tell the whole story since it’s based on the volume models. The PHEVs are better than their gas-only counterparts for efficiency, power, and features, and our ratings mirror the differences with the 2022 Hyundai Tucson earning a TCC Rating of 7.2 out of 10 versus the 2022 Toyota RAV4’s 6.7 out of 10. The RAV4 Prime is better to drive and more efficient, but the Tucson PHEV gets the edge for value and cost, which might be the biggest barrier for shoppers going over the bridge of electrification. And the RAV4 Prime is so hard to get that markups have become commonplace.

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