2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime vs. 2020 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Toyota Rav4 Prime have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The Rav4 Prime has a standard Secondary Collision Brake, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Rav4 Prime XSE offers optional Rear Cross-Traffic Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Rav4 Prime has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Rav4 Prime XSE offers an optional Bird’s Eye View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

The Rav4 Prime has standard Safety Connect™, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Rav4 Prime and the Niro Plug-In Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras and rear cross-path warning.

The Toyota Rav4 Prime weighs 961 to 1139 pounds more than the Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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The Rav4 Prime’s 5-year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Niro Plug-In Hybrid runs out after 100,000 miles.

Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Rav4 Prime for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Kia doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Niro Plug-In Hybrid.

There are over 63 percent more Toyota dealers than there are Kia dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Rav4 Prime’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Kia is ranked 10th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota third in reliability. Kia is ranked 9th.

Engine

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The Rav4 Prime’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid produces 163 more horsepower (302 vs. 139) than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid’s 1.6 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

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The Rav4 Prime’s maximum driving range in pure electric mode is 42 miles, 62% further than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid’s 26-mile range.

The Rav4 Prime has 3.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid (14.5 vs. 11.4 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

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The Rav4 Prime has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Rav4 Prime’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Niro Plug-In Hybrid:

Rav4

Niro

Front Rotors

12.9 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

12.4 inches

11.2 inches

The Rav4 Prime’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Niro Plug-In Hybrid are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Rav4 Prime has larger standard tires than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid (225/60R18 vs. 205/60R16). The Rav4 Prime XSE’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Niro Plug-In Hybrid (235/55R19 vs. 205/60R16).

The Rav4 Prime XSE’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Rav4 Prime SE has standard 18-inch wheels. Only 16-inch wheels are available on the Niro Plug-In Hybrid. The Rav4 Prime XSE has standard 19-inch wheels.

The Rav4 Prime has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Niro Plug-In Hybrid; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

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For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Rav4 Prime is 1.4 inches wider in the front and 1.5 inches wider in the rear than on the Niro Plug-In Hybrid.

For greater off-road capability the Rav4 Prime SE has a 1.7 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid (8 vs. 6.3 inches), allowing the Rav4 Prime to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The Rav4 Prime XSE’s minimum ground clearance is 1.9 inches higher than on the Niro Plug-In Hybrid (8.2 vs. 6.3 inches).

Chassis

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The front grille of the Rav4 Prime uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

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The Rav4 Prime has .6 inches more front hip room, 1.8 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom, .4 inches more rear legroom and 1.2 inches more rear shoulder room than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Rav4 Prime’s rear seats recline. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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The Rav4 Prime has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid with its rear seat up (33.5 vs. 19.4 cubic feet). The Rav4 Prime has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid with its rear seat folded (69.8 vs. 54.5 cubic feet).

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the Rav4 Prime has a standard power liftgate, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button or, optionally on the Rav4 Prime XSE, by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a power liftgate.

Towing

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The Rav4 Prime has a 2500 lbs. towing capacity. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid has no towing capacity.

Ergonomics

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The Rav4 Prime has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Rav4 Prime offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Rav4 Prime’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid’s parking brake has to released manually.

The Rav4 Prime’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid’s standard rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully. Only its driver’s window closes automatically.

If the windows are left open on the Rav4 Prime the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. (Your Toyota service department must activate this window function.) The driver of the Niro Plug-In Hybrid can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Rav4 Prime’s optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Rav4 Prime XSE offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Rav4 Prime’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Kia only offers heated mirrors on the Niro Plug-In Hybrid EX/EX Premium.

The Rav4 Prime has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats are only available on the Niro Plug-In Hybrid EX/EX Premium. The Rav4 Prime also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Niro Plug-In Hybrid.

Both the Rav4 Prime and the Niro Plug-In Hybrid offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Rav4 Prime has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

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