Toyota’s RAV4 Prime gets a higher EPA score than Battery-Elec. Genesis GV60

Two of the best all-wheel-drive crossovers available this year are the all-new Genesis GV60 and Toyota RAV4 Prime. Each comes with a grip and each has peak acceleration. In fact, each is the fastest cross made by each company. So how did the Toyota RAV4 Prime, which can burn gas in certain modes, end up being the one with the best EPA rating?

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The weight is one of the reasons. Because the Genesis GV60 carries a huge high-voltage battery, it weighs nearly 5,000 pounds. Mass has an efficiency penalty, and the Genesis GV60 Performance pays the price. The RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), on the other hand, weighs about 600 pounds less. This despite having both electric motors and a gasoline engine to “haul”.

The EPA rating for electric vehicles is Miles Per Gallon Equivalent, MPGe. It is an imperfect unit of measurement, much like MPG is in conventional vehicles. The EPA uses it so buyers can compare different models to each other when looking for a new vehicle to buy. Higher indicates higher efficiency and lower energy cost. So higher is better. The MPGe rating of the RAV4 Prime is 94 MPGe and that of the Genesis GV60 Performance is 90 MPGe.

The idea was that the vehicle with the higher MPGe would cost owners less for energy than those with a lower rating. However, it doesn’t really work that way when the gas is around five bucks. Although the GV60 has a lower MPGe rating, it actually costs less per year than the RAV4 Prime for power. Indeed, the EPA averages the gas and electric operation of the RAV4 Prime. When the RAV4 Prime isn’t being used in EV-only mode, it performs as a 38 MPG hybrid. The EPA’s estimated annual energy cost for the GV60 is $700 per year, and the RAV4 Prime’s combined electric and gas cost estimate is $1,100. But wait, there’s one more twist.

Interestingly, the RAV4 Prime is a more efficient vehicle in EV mode than the GV60. The EPA says the cost to go 25 miles in EV mode is $1.20 for the GV60 and $1.17 for the RAV4 Prime. That means every mile the RAV4 Prime travels in EV mode is more efficient than a battery-only EV of its size. The RAV4 Prime can travel approximately 42 miles on one charge and can be recharged on a Level 2 home charger in just 2.5 hours. Thus, it is possible for many owners to drive it on a commute or locally as a daily commute without using gasoline.

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The GV60 Performance is a little faster than the RAV4 Prime. It can sprint to 60 MPH in around 4 seconds and the RAV4 Prime takes around 5.5 seconds to do the same sprint. By any measure, both are fast. However, when it’s time to go on a trip, the RAV4 Prime has a range when fully powered more than double that of the GV60.

Electric vehicles started with cars, but fewer and fewer consumers want a car. What they really want, and are buying in huge numbers, are trucks and crossover SUVs. The trend for MPGe numbers as EVs start to appear in the shapes and sizes that consumers really want is for MPGe numbers to be ridiculously low. The new F-150 Lightning earned an EPA rating of 66 MPge. The next GMC Hummer is said to have an MPGe rating of just 47. How low EVs will go in terms of miles per gallon equivalent is anyone’s guess.

Conventional wisdom is that battery electric vehicles are the only logical choice to reduce carbon emissions. If only it were that simple in the real world.

Fuel Economy Comparison Chart Courtesy of www.FuelEconomy.gov

John Goreham is a longtime member of the New England Motor Press Association and a recovering engineer. John’s interest in electric vehicles dates back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an electric vehicle battery as part of a university team. After graduating in mechanical engineering, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry and in biotechnology. In addition to Torque News, John’s work has appeared in dozens of US media outlets and provides reviews for numerous vehicle-buying sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitterand check his credentials on Linkedin

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