The Toyota RAV4 is consistently in the top sellers list for new cars in Australia, with the hybrid powertrain making up over 70 per cent of all RAV4 sales. The hybrid models offer the benefit of a fuel-efficient engine combined with the practicality that the RAV4 has been renowned for, for decades.
The 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid powertrain in the all-wheel drive RAV4 Cruiser that I recently drove provides an adequate 163kW of power with 221Nm of torque from the combustion engine only. This RAV4 had CVT gearbox and I found it felt less lethargic than in other Toyota hybrid models with the same transmission. The official combined fuel use for the RAV4 AWD is 4.8L/100km and for my week I used 7.8L/100km of 91RON petrol, the fuel recommended by Toyota.
The hybrid system allows for EV only driving under low-speed conditions and for the rest of the time it is available to maximise fuel use, without the need to be plugged in. On the infotainment screen you can display a live diagram showing when the hybrid battery is in use and when it is charging or rate your driving efficiency for each trip. The driver’s dash is a combination of analogue dials with the central digital display that changes depending the drive mode selected, either Eco, Normal, Sport drive modes and Trail mode, and can be configured to display a variety of information.
Considering the current state of Sydney’s roads, due to the high amount of rainfall in the past six months, the high riding position of an SUV has almost become essential. I found that the RAV4 Cruiser comfortably road over the bumps and the all-wheel drive provided stability in variable driving conditions.
Throughout the cabin, you’ll find a multitude of storage solutions that help reduce clutter and increase space. Under arm rest is a storage cubby with a top ledge and two USB ports, in front of this are two large cup holders, with good sized drink bottle storage in the front door cubby as well. In front of gear selector is a ledge for your phone with wireless charging for compatible devices, along with one USB port and a 12V outlet.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard across the current RAV4 range and is projected on the 8″ colour touchscreen display. Satellite navigation with SUNA traffic channel can be operated via the touch screen or voice control, which worked well for me when I used it to enter a destination into the system. Voice control is activated by pressing the button on the steering wheel with the masculine looking silhouette on it. I found the voice control was a bit hit and miss for making phone calls, but worked for switching between the media sources, which include AM/FM radio, DAB, USB, Bluetooth and Miracast.
The RAV4 Cruiser I drove had leather accented front seats that were heated and the driver’s seat had power adjustment for recline, forward/back, seat height front and rear and 2-way lumbar with two memory positions. In the RAV4 upgrades that came through in late 2021 Cruiser variants also added three-stage front seat heating and ventilation, with eight-way power adjustment for the front passenger seat as well, but no memory positions.
Other Cruiser trim upgrades included a digital rear-view mirror, which uses the rear parking camera to provide a clearer and wider field of view while also reducing glare and is activated via a lever at the bottom of the mirror. On the outside, all RAV4 variants gained upgraded LED fog lights with a new design headlight for hybrid versions to enhance night time vision.
The rear seats have ample head and leg room for two adults and for younger passengers there are two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, but only enough room for two car seats. The centre seat folds down as an arm rest with two rigid cup holders at the front of it and there are good sized drink bottle storage cubbies in rear doors. Rear passengers get two central air vents with manual open/close and direction control and you can also turn off the rear air from the front climate controls. Below air vents are two USB ports and I appreciated that there was a single mat over the entire rear floor to protect carpet and for easy cleaning.
The tailgate is power operated with open/close function on button under boot lid, key fob or button in the cabin. The boot has room for a small pram and the weekly shop or your dog and there are four tie down points, one 12V outlet, and a temporary use spare tyre under boot floor, but no hooks. If more storage space needed the rear seats have a 40:60 split fold mechanism with the release on the outside shoulder of each rear seat.
All RAV4 variants have a 5-star ANCAP safety rating (2019) with an Adult Protection Rating of 35.7 out of 38 (93%) and a Child Occupant Protection rating of 43.9 out of 49 (89%). Passive safety on all models includes seven airbags featuring front, front side, full length curtain airbags and driver’s knee airbag.
All RAV4s come standard with Toyota Safety Sense which includes Lane Departure Alert, Lane Trace Assist, Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, Road Sign Assist (speed signs only), Automatic High Beam and Active Cruise Control. Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, front and rear parking sensors, rain sensing wipers and auto lights also come as standard across whole range. The RAV4 Cruiser also gets a Panoramic View Monitor with a standard view camera on right hand side of screen and a 360o view on the left-hand side. At the push of a button, you can do a virtual full rotation around the outside of the vehicle to check for obstacles.
ANCAP testing of the Autonomous Emergency Braking system showed GOOD performance in highway speed scenarios with collisions avoided or mitigated in most tests. ANCAP tests of the Lane Support System functionality showed some GOOD performance, however the system does not intervene in more critical emergency lane keeping test scenarios and overall performance was classified as ADEQUATE. The overall ANCAP Safety Assist score is 83%.
All new Toyota vehicles come with a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty and this can be extended for up to seven years with unlimited kilometres on Engine and Driveline if your vehicle is properly serviced and maintained as per the vehicle’s Warranty and Service book. For hybrid vehicle batteries the standard five-year warranty can be increased to up to ten years with unlimited kilometres, subject to annual Hybrid Health Check. The service interval for the RAV4 hybrid is 12 months or 15,000kms, whichever occurs first. Using Toyota’s website, I calculated the first five services for the Cruiser AWD would cost $1,150 under the Toyota Service Advantage program.
The Toyota RAV4 has earnt its place as one of Australia’s favourite vehicles by providing everyday practicality combined with fuel-efficient hybrid technology. The upgraded Toyota RAV4 Cruiser starts $48,750 plus on-road costs and as tested with Graphite Premium paint ($675) this RAV4 would cost $49,425 plus on-roads. Visit your preferred Toyota dealer to experience the RAV4 advantage for yourself.
|Hybrid engine that does not need to be plugged in
|Masculine looking silhouette on voice control button
|The standard safety features available across the range
|Voice control was hit and miss for making phone calls
|Mat across entire rear floor
|No hooks in the boot
Photographs and video by Driven Women Magazine.