Which of the two best frugal family crossovers on the market reigns supreme?
Electrification is taking over, but for the budget-conscious family, it'll be a long time before they're affordable. In the meantime, one can start saving money on fuel while still driving something with enough space, tech, and comfort to appease the whole family. Two of the latest offerings that have caught our eye are the 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid and the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime. Both are mild hybrids, and both are meant to be reliable, economical, and smart buys for the average American family, but which is more impressive? Let's take a look at the features and pricing of each.
Both vehicles have a sharp design and an attractive aesthetic. The Toyota RAV4 Prime is characterized by a unique front bumper not found on other versions of the RAV4, as well as a special grille and various black exterior accents. Dual tailpipes in a chrome finish are also fitted, while a blue-accented Toyota badge is another nice touch.
On the Sorento Hybrid, Kia's now well-known Tiger Nose grille integrates into highly detailed headlights, while a massaged hood and fender accents add a hint of sportiness. At the rear, split taillights in a smoked finish are complemented by an angular tailgate and a faux diffuser also housing dual exhaust tips, fake as they may be. For us, the Sorento stands out more and looks far more upmarket.
The RAV4 Prime's cabin is simple but effective, and we're happy to see physical buttons on the nine-inch infotainment display and climate controls. Contrast stitching and a smattering of aluminum accents give you a premium feel, while standard features like heated front seats and a long list of safety advances make you feel at home.
The Sorento Hybrid's interior is far more dramatic, with loads of flair and plenty of details to check out. The accent trims, second-row captain's chairs, and quilted seating make this a special place to be, while a digital driver info display measuring 12.3 inches definitely makes this the more tech-forward offering of the two.
The RAV4 Prime is powered by a combination of a 2.5-liter four-pot and permanent magnet synchronous electric motors. It develops a total of 302 horsepower and is remarkably quick, even in EV mode. 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds is possible with full power being available, making it quicker than some hot hatches. Not bad for a family SUV.
The Sorento Hybrid is similarly impressive, with V6 levels of power. The combustion engine is a 1.6-liter turbo-four that's paired with an electric motor for a total of 261 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. No official acceleration figures are yet available, but the RAV4 would surely have the Sorento whipped in a drag race. It's a point for Toyota.
The RAV4 Prime has a base price of $38,100 before a $1,095 destination charge, but the top trim costs $41,425 before options. Remember, though, that these figures exclude any potential rebates or tax credits, and the RAV4 Prime qualifies for the latter to the tune of $7,500.
The Sorento Hybrid starts at $34,760 for the base version while the EX trim will set you back at least $37,760 before any additional charges or rebates. Despite offering more standard tech and looking far more modern, the Kia is again the better pick here. We'll have to wait for the full launch to see if that money is truly well-spent, but it seems that Toyota needs to up its game if it wants to dominate this segment.
If you want a hybrid SUV right now, the RAV4 Prime is currently on offer while the Kia Sorento Hybrid has yet to be launched domestically. However, if you can wait a little longer, our quick analysis of the details released thus far suggests that the Sorento could be worth holding out for. It's got a much fancier aesthetic, both inside and out, and with a lower price, it's hard to look past. That being said, Toyota's indomitable reliability, more powerful motors, and immediate availability make it a highly attractive choice. We'll have to wait to drive them back to back to give you a proper verdict, but for now, the Kia wins on points while the Toyota wins on value and power. See what you need most and make your choice from there.