The top-selling Toyota hybrid vehicle in the U.S. over the past year wasn’t part of the Prius family—or, technically, a passenger car.
In 2019, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid wins that crown. According to Toyota’s 2019 year-end sales summary, released Friday, Toyota sold 92,525 RAV4 Hybrid SUVs to U.S. buyers in 2019, versus just 69,718 Toyota Prius Liftback models.
Going all the way back to the debut of Toyota’s hybrid system in the 2000 Prius, it's the first year that another hybrid model outsold the Prius.
It’s not clear, of course, whether this is Toyota’s doing, via deciding product mix, or a matter of consumer demand for hybrids in one form waxing and another waning. But the concern about the Corolla Hybrid cannibalizing Prius sales wouldn't have helped it take the lead; Corolla Hybrid and Prius sales combined (including Prime) still didn't add up to RAV4 Hybrid numbers.
2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
2020 Toyota Prius
2020 Toyota Prius Prime
Long ago, Toyota stated clearly that its intent with its hybrid system was to move it from the niche Prius into its mainstream lineup and “go big” with it there, while the Prius would continue to be a technology harbinger in other ways, if it continued.
Toyota just hasn’t moved the Prius on to the next logical step—which might be a plug-in hybrid with an especially long electric range, or perhaps a vehicle that gets aggressive with solar supplementation. While there’s a plug-in Toyota Prius Prime model in the sidelines, there’s also a 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime model on the way later this year—with considerably more electric miles.
With RAV4 sales of all versions totaling 448,071 in 2019—the top-selling model in Toyota’s entire lineup—that also figures to hybrids making up more than 20 percent.
As always, Toyota split out its sales totals by passenger cars and light trucks. Combining Toyota’s Lexus luxury brand with its own, the automaker sold 1.620 million cars and 1.533 million light trucks in the U.S. But its hybrid totals skewed in favor of light trucks (129,420 passenger car hybrids vs. 145 light truck hybrids)—amounting to figures of about 8.0% of cars and 9.5% of light trucks being hybrids.
2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid
Among Toyota models with hybrid versions, the RAV4 didn’t have the highest 2019 hybrid “take rate” though. That goes to the Toyota Avalon; although its total model line sales of 27,767 for the year is a small fraction of the RAV4’s total, 23.6 percent (6,552) of the Avalons were sold in Avalon Hybrid form.