Imagine you're the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Sweet gig, right? The hybrid model of a hot-selling small crossover from one of the largest automakers on the planet---the one that popularized hybrids in America.
Now, consider: That automaker---your parent---makes a plug-in version of you, the Toyota RAV4 Prime, that packs 83 horsepower more and is the thrill ride nobody expected from a hybrid and that you, the otherwise identical twin, can't deliver.
Well, that's okay, you figure, because that's a specialty model to enhance Toyota's share of the hybrid market---maybe even popularize the slow-selling PHEV (plug-in electric hybrid vehicle).
After all, you are very competitive under the hood with arch-rival Honda. You have 219 horsepower and the Honda CR-V Hybrid has 212. You both knock back zero to 60 runs in about 7 and a half seconds.
And all of that is true. Except your base price, in top-of-the-line Limited AWD form, is $37,030 and the Honda's is---$36,350.
Okay, a slight disadvantage, but your $37,030 includes Toyota's Safety Sense 2.0 advanced active safety features suite, a power tilt and slide moonroof, 18-inch wheels, an 11-speaker JBL Premium audio system, navigation, heated front seats and dual-zone climate control.
Honda's got you pretty much matched except the CR-V's wheels are 19s and its standard premium audio system only has nine speakers.
But then come the options. $1,015 for the Limited Grade Weather Package: Heated leather-trimmed steering wheel (Honda has the leather but not the heat standard), heated and ventilated front seats, rear heated seats (heated fronts only on the Honda), rain-sensing variable wipers (standard on the Honda) with a de-icer function. Then there's 1,025 for the Limited Grade Advanced Technology Package: Smart key system on all doors and liftgate, hands-free foot-activated liftgate (standard on the Honda), wireless phone charging (standard on the Honda) and birds-eye view camera. Plus $415 for adaptive front headlights, $500 to upgrade the moonroof to a larger panoramic one, $269 for all-weather floor liners and cargo tray, $199 for door sill protectors, $543 for a protection package and $315 for roof rack cross bars.
Okay, you're ahead of the Honda in terms of equipment---some of which you just can't equip a CR-V Hybrid with. But your as-tested price with $1,175 delivery processing and handling fee is $42,486 and the Honda's, thanks to its one-price pricing for trim levels, is---$37,575 including $1,225 destination and handling fees.
A $680 price disadvantage is now $4,911.
That's not to say the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited isn't worth it. It's just that this is a very competitive segment of the market where a lot of the equation is based on price and value. There's a lot buyers will consider before they imagine signing on the dotted line.