The compact crossover wars have spilled into the electrified space and in addition to standard hybrids, plug-in hybrids are now a major competitive bracket. Initially, the only offering was the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV but now, there are three other competitors and more are on the way. The 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime was the second entrant into this space and it immediately cemented itself as the power option. Now, there’s a new rival with the Toyota directly in its sights: the 2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV. With both being such compelling offerings, let’s break it down and see why you should put one over the other in your garage.
Both the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime and 2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV are on the larger end of the compact SUV segment. The latter grew significantly for its latest generation thanks to a longer wheelbase.
Their styling couldn’t be more different. While the Toyota doubles down on ruggedness that shows its family ties to the 4Runner, the Hyundai goes all-in on looking like it came from the future with its cool LED daytime running lights embedded into the grille, tiered headlights, and myriad of swooshes and slashes all across the vehicle.
The RAV4 and Tucson comfortably seat four passengers and/or carry a lot of gear thanks to their roomy interiors. Both crossovers also offer lots of clever storage spaces for mobile devices, designer wallets, and other little knickknacks.
The Tucson takes it up a notch by having rear seats that slide and recline. Things start to deviate once you look closely at the build quality and sound insulation. Between the two, the Hyundai is the one that feels like it can wear a luxury badge. There’s not much noise entering the cabin at any speed, keeping things calm on the road. Its build quality is also top-notch, featuring lots of soft-touch and padded surfaces, and tactile buttons on the center console.
By contrast, the Toyota is more utilitarian with rubberized knobs that are easy to grip and lots of areas with covers that keep your phone from sliding around. While the interior feels sturdy, the fit and finish land squarely in the mainstream territory despite the extensive use of the squishy stuff throughout the cabin.
The level of consistency, however, isn’t in the same ballpark as the Hyundai because you’ll find harder bits near touchpoints, especially in the rear. Additional sound insulation would also help quiet the RAV4 Prime’s interior because there’s so much noise coming in, particularly on the highway.
Hyundai takes the lead on the tech front thanks to its modern yet user-friendly infotainment system. The optional dual 10.25-inch displays feature crisp graphics and quick responses, adding to the Tucson PHEV’s approachability. Our only complaint is with the lack of physical knobs and shortcut buttons on the dash since nearly everything is accessed via haptic feedback controls. These can get distracting because they require you to look away from the road for certain settings you can’t change without taking your hand off the steering wheel. The available Bose audio system, while crisp and clear, doesn’t increase in volume evenly and will suddenly give you a full blast once you get past the halfway point.
Toyota hasn’t added its new user interface to the RAV4 family yet, meaning you have to make do with the older Entune system on either an 8- or 9-inch touch screen. While its controls are simpler than the Hyundai’s thanks to it being more traditional, the response times are much slower and the graphics are grainy.
Like the Tucson’s Bose audio system, the 11-speaker JBL unit in the RAV4 Prime is clear and crisp but the volume doesn’t increase consistently, meaning you need to turn it up halfway if you want decent sound levels.
The RAV4 Prime and Tucson PHEV both offer a long list of standard features including collision prevention and driver assistance features. Of the two, Hyundai’s Smart Sense suite works better and isn’t as conservative. Its adaptive cruise control component is proactive and does a great job maintaining your set distance and slowing the vehicle down if someone merges between you and the vehicle ahead.
The Toyota leaves a little more room ahead of you even in the closest setting and isn’t as quick to detect other vehicles; however, keep in mind that the RAV4 still uses the older Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite, which isn’t as active as the newer 2.5, 2.5+, and 3.0 versions. Both vehicles have excellent lane centering and steering assists that gently nudge you back into your lane if you start to drift. However, Toyota’s version only works when adaptive cruise control is active.
Toyota leverages its experience with hybrids by giving you a RAV4 that’s as quick as it is efficient. Featuring a 2.5-liter four-cylinder coupled to three electric motors, a planetary gear set, and an 18.1-kWh battery, there’s 302 hp under your right foot. Mash the accelerator and you get effortless power for all driving situations even in all-electric mode. The latter also gives you 42 miles of emissions-free driving, perfect for short commutes. Should you want to do a road trip, the RAV4 Prime is EPA-rated at 40/36/28 mpg city/highway/combined or 600 miles when driven as a conventional hybrid.
The Tucson PHEV uses a more conventional parallel hybrid setup. It pairs a 1.6-liter turbo-four to an electric motor, a 13.8-kWh battery, and a six-speed automatic transmission for a combined output of 261 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. While not as quick as the RAV4 Prime, there’s plenty of power on tap for all driving situations, just don’t expect the crossover to pin you into your seat. The use of a geared transmission provides a driving experience similar to a conventional internal combustion vehicle. Shifts are quick and timely but we wish the gearbox would stop going to the highest gear right away outside of Sport mode.
The Tucson PHEV trails the RAV4 Prime in the efficiency department at 35 mpg across the board according to the EPA. It’s good for 33 miles in all-electric mode or 420 miles when driven as a regular hybrid.
Hyundai’s suspension tuning stands out because the Tucson PHEV has a nice blend of comfort and agility. It does a good job absorbing road imperfections while retaining good body control and secure handling. Together with communicative steering, you get a compact SUV that’s easy to drive and feels confident on the road.
The RAV4 Prime, on the other hand, is softer despite having a sport-tuned suspension as standard equipment. Body motions are controlled well but they’re more apparent, especially vertical motions after driving over a pothole or speed bump. It rolls more through turns but doesn’t get unruly while the steering is light and accurate to highlight its focus on comfort.
The two crossovers continue to distinguish each other with their approach to AWD. Toyota uses an e-AWD setup in its FWD-based electrified vehicles by adding an electric drive motor on the rear axle. This gives the RAV4 Prime a front-drive biased power distribution, meaning you’ll experience torque steer, the motion of the steering wheel tugging from side to side, during hard acceleration. Toyota’s calibration is a bit conservative because the rear electric motor only comes on when you need extra traction. Sometimes, it’s a little late, resulting in the car plowing into corners while the rear end steps out at the same time.
You’ll find a traditional mechanical AWD system in the Tucson PHEV, meaning a driveshaft connects both axles. As a result, you get immediate traction when you put your foot down and power is split to all four wheels evenly for maximum grip, giving the Hyundai a more stable feel. It also uses the brakes to slow down the inner wheel when turning, giving the vehicle balanced road manners.
On the charging front, the Toyota is the slower of the two because its standard onboard charger is a 3.3-kW unit. That means it’ll take around four to five hours to get to 100%. There’s also an optional 6.6-kW onboard charger that will cut charging times to 2.5 hours. Hyundai fitted the Tucson PHEV with a 7.2-kW onboard charger. Together with the smaller battery, it only takes two hours to get a full charge. These charging estimates assume you’re using a Level 2 charger with at least enough output to match the onboard charger of the vehicle.
Neither vehicle has one-pedal driving but there’s enough energy recuperation to get back plenty of range when going downhill. Both also have good linear pedal operation since you can’t tell where handoffs from regenerative to mechanical braking occur. The Hyundai, however, has a firmer pedal feel whereas the Toyota is softer.
The 2022 RAV4 Prime is on the pricier end of the spectrum starting at $41,515 for the base SE grade. Load up the XSE trim with options and extra-cost exterior color and you’re guaranteed to cross $50,000. You’ll need to act quickly if you want a RAV4 Prime that still qualifies for the full $7,500 federal tax credit because Toyota and Lexus have nearly used up their allotment.
In typical Hyundai fashion, the 2022 Tucson PHEV is a strong value play at $36,145 for the base SEL trim. A range-topping Limited trim is just under $44,000 and gets goodies like heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, remote parking, and the full Smart Sense drive assistance suite. Although the Tucson PHEV only qualifies for a $6,587 federal tax credit, it will be available with it for a longer period since Hyundai still has plenty left.
2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime or 2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV summary
Both the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime and 2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV are strong contenders in the compact SUV segment. Each one offers something that makes them stand out.
The Toyota’s blend of power and efficiency is unmatched while providing a comfortable ride and plenty of room.
Hyundai, on the other hand, gives you an upscale cabin, excellent tech features, and balanced road manners.
Regardless of which one you get; you’ll have a vehicle that will meet your family requirements. It’s only a matter of picking which one you like, the powerful and more rugged Toyota or the quirky, tech-packed Hyundai.
Get the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime if you want:
- Power and efficiency
- Generous all-electric range
- Comfortable ride
Get the 2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV if you want:
- An upscale interior
- The latest tech features
- Well-rounded road manners