Toyota likes to tout its Camry as the bestselling car in America, but that accolade comes with an asterisk. Include SUVs, and it's a different Toyota atop the podium—the Toyota RAV4. We're not surprised. Beyond Toyota's reputation for durability and low running costs, the RAV4 is a safe and efficient do-everything crossover that satisfies the needs of most drivers, especially those who don't prioritize driving dynamics. But what does it actually cost to own the most popular SUV in the country, and is it worth the extra cash to spring for a hybrid?
Our pals at IntelliChoice calculate five-year cost of ownership for every vehicle on the market down to each trim level; find out how their analysis works here. To even the playing field, we're focusing on three similar trim levels: AWD versions of the RAV4 XLE Premium AWD ($34,070), the RAV4 Hybrid XLE Premium ($35,270), and RAV4 Prime XSE ($46,795). Based on experience with our long-term RAV4, this trim feels like the sweet spot of the lineup. Here's how the RAV4, RAV4 Hybrid, and RAV4 Prime stack up. Toyota Fortuner
Performing regular maintenance over five years based on Toyota's regularly scheduled intervals, industry-standard service times, national labor rate averages, and Toyota's suggested list prices for parts, maintaining a standard gas RAV4 will cost $2,498. That number factors in the automaker's two years or 25,000 miles of free maintenance included with every new vehicle purchase. Maintenance doesn't cover average repair costs, though, which IntelliChoice projects at $686 over five years.
Maintaining a RAV4 Hybrid is projected to be $160 cheaper, with the same repair cost. Although electric vehicles can be cheaper to take care of with fewer moving parts, plug-in hybrids that combine EV running gear with a gas engine to eliminate range anxiety still carry the costs of a conventional car. IntelliChoice predicts RAV4 Prime XSE buyers will (just barely) spend the most in maintenance costs over five years, at $20 more than the standard RAV4 with identical repair costs.
Maintenance and Repair Costs Winner: 2022 RAV4 Hybrid
Insurance costs over the course of five years on the 2022 RAV4 XLE Premium come to $7,049. Financing costs will vary based on a number of factors, including your credit score and whether you're pre-approved for financing at the dealer. In this case, that cost comes to $3,457. State fees are the sums of title, registration, miscellaneous initial fees, plus renewal fees over five years. For the RAV4 in question, that totals $1,182.
These data points change the most based on the purchase price of the vehicle, so the values of the standard gas RAV4 will be the lowest. An equivalent RAV4 Hybrid is projected at $302 more to insure and $125 more to finance, with $27 more in state fees. Because the plug-in is priced way steeper than the other variants, it's here you'll see the biggest delta. Opting for the Prime means an anticipated $908 more in insurance costs than the standard RAV4, $1,045 more in financing, and $240 more to the state.
Insurance and Financing Costs Winner: Standard 2022 RAV4
The next two are biggies. Depreciation accounts for most of a vehicle's cost of ownership over five years, and IntelliChoice evaluates cost by considering historical used value trends of a vehicle with 70,000 miles on the odometer and sold to a private party. For the standard RAV4 in question, five-year depreciation sums to $18,179 (53.4 percent).
In the case of the RAV4 Hybrid, buyers are likely to lose a little more total value at $18,526 but a smaller proportion of its purchase price (52.5 percent). Buyers will lose a lot more overall value if they spring for the RAV4 Prime—$23,559—but the PHEV depreciates the lowest percentage of its initial purchase price (50.3 percent).
Depreciation Costs Winner: 2022 RAV4 Prime
Of course, we also need to talk about fuel costs, which is the figure with the most obvious difference between the RAV4, RAV4 Hybrid, and RAV4 Prime. IntelliChoice evaluates five-year fuel costs assuming 60 percent highway mileage, 40 percent city mileage, and the owner covering an average of 14,000 miles per year.
The projected five-year fuel cost of the standard RAV4 (27/33 mpg city/highway) is $7,900. There's a huge gap in efficiency between the gas-only SUV and the RAV4 Hybrid (41/38 mpg), and buyers will see that gap reflected in their gas bills, as projected five-year fuel cost is estimated at $6,116, or about $1,800 less than its non-hybrid twin.
For plug-in hybrids, IntelliChoice determines a fuel split based on the vehicle's electric range and calculates costs according to the same 60/40 city/highway split. By this method, the RAV4 Prime XSE's fuel costs amount to $4,378, roughly 55 percent of what you'd spend in the conventionally powered crossover.
Fuel Costs Winner: 2022 RAV4 Prime
Let's add things up. Total projected five-year cost of ownership for the 2022 RAV4 XLE Premium amounts to $40,950. Even considering the RAV4 Hybrid's slightly higher insurance, financing, depreciation, and state fees, that vehicle's anticipated cost of ownership over five years amounts to $39,807.
Despite the RAV4 Prime's obvious advantage in fuel costs, it couldn't overcome its high depreciation and insurance costs compared to its peers. Total five-year cost of ownership is projected at $45,201. Until recently, RAV4 Prime buyers would have been eligible for the same $7,500 tax credit as fully electric vehicles (the value of the credit was dependent on battery capacity), but the plug-in Toyota no longer qualifies given the changes associated with August 2022's Inflation Reduction Act.
Used Car Finance Deals Evaluated across the RAV4 lineup, the RAV4 Hybrid is projected as the least expensive to own over a five-year period compared to the standard RAV4 and RAV4 Prime. So yes, spending extra money on the hybrid is worth it in the long run, but don't shell out for the plug-in thinking it'll save you cash.