It used to be no contest, but the fight is getting closer each and every day…

Quick Notes:

– The Toyota Prius has sold 29,241 units through June 2019, just a hair less than the Toyota RAV4 hybrid which has sold 29,319 units

– Overall fuel economy still goes to the Prius, but the Rav4 hybrid offers increased functionality

– The RAV4 hybrid offers consumers a compelling alternative to the norm

The Toyota Prius was the first popular mass-marketed hybrid vehicle that could accurately be called an industry disruptor. Not only was the technology incredibly advanced for its time, but the Prius also was one of the first cars to boast incredible fuel economy with heavily reduced tailpipe emissions. Prius started a revolution that has grown by leaps and bounds as of today.

Now, the Prius may have had the famed reputation as America’s best-selling hybrid for some time, but it’s being given a run for its money by Toyota’s new RAV4 Hybrid. In fact, as of June this year, the RAV4 Hybrid is outpacing the Prius with 29,319 units sold vs. 29,241 from the Prius.

It’s a tough fight and far from over yet, but it begs the question, “Is Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid the new and improved Prius?” Hybrid-buyers-to-be need to know, and we’ve got the answers right here.

The RAV4 is catching up to the fuel economy of the Prius

The new RAV4 hybrid model’s 40-mpg EPA combined rating might still be far removed from the Prius’s 50-to-56-mpg rating, but it’s a huge improvement over its predecessor’s 32-mpg combined rating. As the RAV4 hybrid’s fuel economy inches closer and closer to the Prius, consumers will no doubt begin to weigh the functionality of the crossover vs. the increasingly insignificant difference in fuel economy.


Despite it’s smaller overall size, the Prius still allows for an excellent amount of cargo storage and passenger space. Of course, it can’t compete with the RAV4 hybrid’s increased overall size! At the end of the day, one of the largest factors prospective buyers will need to consider is if they’d rather less space and better fuel economy or slightly worse fuel economy with more space.

The price difference and what that chunk of change will get you

You can expect to pay $4,000-5,000 more for a RAV4 hybrid. The average RAV4 hybrid price comes in just under $27,000 while the Prius slots in just under $23,000. The features you choose can obviously affect the price one way or the other, but the RAV4 comes with more standard features. Those include HD and Satellite Radio, Smart Device Integration, Dual Zone A/C, Integrated Turn Signal Mirrors, All Wheel Drive, Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel, Fog Lamps, Sun/Moon Roof, and more available options like a Navigation System and Rear Parking Aid.

You’ll pay more for the RAV4, but it’s hard to argue that you’re not getting more bang for your buck at the same time.

The bottom line: Should you buy the Prius or RAV4 hybrid?

There was a time when the Prius may have been your only choice of hybrid, or at the very least, the front runner. That time may be nearing an end as Toyota’s new RAV4 hybrid offers increased fuel economy, functionality, and it seems the sales numbers are starting to demonstrate that.

“At the end of the day, buying a car is a deeply personal experience and is closely tied to your lifestyle i.e. family situation, work (daily commuter vs. occasional driver), and preferences when it comes to style and functionality. All that to say that there’s no way you should let me or anyone else tell you which car to buy!”

Ask yourself if fuel economy or functionality is more desirable to you, and you may be one step closer to making up your mind.

A deeper dive – Related reading on the 101:

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5 ways to reduce your carbon footprint | Living 101

Five core eco-consciousness principles to live by as you try to reduce your carbon footprint.