LOS ANGELES – Never mind that the plug-in version of the Toyota RAV4 compact SUV is eco-friendly and saves gas.
Toyota, instead, is promoting it as a sleeper hot rod.
The new RAV4 Prime plug-in set to be introduced Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show will rocket from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, making it what Toyota says will be second only to the Supra sports car as the quickest vehicle in its lineup. That's quite a boast considering Toyota still has a full lineup of cars, from the sporty 86 to the Avalon, and cars generally outperform heavier crossover SUVs off the starting line.
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With an electric boost, the 2021 RAV4 Prime will have what amounts to 302 horsepower. Thanks to more powerful electric motors, a beefier lithium-ion battery and booster converter, that's an 83 horsepower boost over the non-plug-in, hybrid version of the RAV4.
Toyota refers to the new plug-in as the "RAV4 performance model," showing how this age of low gas prices and the success of Tesla in selling electric cars based on sexy design and silent, super-quick power are changing the way plug-in vehicles are marketed.
Despite the spin, the RAV4 Prime is no slouch when it comes to eco-credibility.
At 39 miles of driving on a single charge before its gas engine takes over, the RAV4 Prime has a longer electric range on battery alone than any other plug-in SUV on the market, Toyota said. Its MPGe rating, the government's measurement of the estimated gas mileage equivalent of electric cars, is a respectable 90 in combined city and highway driving.
The RAV4 Prime arrives in showrooms next summer at a price yet to be disclosed.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Los Angeles Auto Show: Toyota touts RAV4 Prime plug-in SUV