I KNOW THE RAV4 Hybrid has generated quite a waiting list, but the sight of some chancer asking $80,000 for his was nevertheless quite an eyebrow-raiser. Good luck getting that sum, because from what I gather the waiting list is now down from a peak of eight months to only two or so.
I’ve contributed to that list, having convinced two of my friends to put in an order for one. So it was a little concerning to hear that Teknikens Värld (World of Technology), a respected Swedish title that broke the original story on how the Mercedes-Benz A-Class failed the moose test, were now claiming the RAV4 Hybrid did likewise.
I had a look at the tests and came away reassured. The Swedes weighted the car to the maximum permissible load, threw it violently through the test and it clipped one cone. It didn’t end up on its roof, its nose didn’t deviate from the chosen path, and I reckon the Scandies might have succumbed to a little hyperbole in this instance.
Our long-termer has been subjected to some fairly enthusiastic driving on gravel, so I’m very comfortable with its limit handling and know the characteristics of its stability control system. Toyota must have confidence in the RAV4’s chassis as well because they’re launching a 228kW plug-in hybrid version (though not here).
Even this 155kW hybrid occasionally has me shaking my head in wonderment. Anything much over 150kW was a serious car when I was a young ’un. We would press our noses to the glass of a Sierra RS Cosworth at our local Ford dealer, trying to wrap our adolescent brains around how anyone could manhandle such an unfeasibly overflowing bucket of stonk. Magnum’s Ferrari 308 GTS ladled out just a couple of kilowatts more, but I’m guessing he wasn’t seeing a faintly ridiculous 5.4L/100km. He certainly wouldn’t have taken his Fez if shopping for a 55-inch TV.
“You’ll never fit that in a RAV4,” said old mate at JB Hi-Fi. “The screens have to travel upright and it won’t fit through the tailgate,” he explained with the grin of a man who’s about to gouge you for a $60 delivery fee to truck a Sony Bravia 1500 metres.
He was right too. It didn’t fit. Unfortunately for him, it did fit with almost millimetric precision across the vehicle behind the rear seats. Yes, it meant driving home so close to the windscreen that an airbag inflation would probably have stoved my face in like a spoon, but $60 is $60.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I’m delighted with the RAV4 Hybrid, but there’s one feature that drives me to frustration, namely the inability to enter a navigation destination while the vehicle is moving. I can play with all kinds of other screen functions, but entering a destination? Nope. Even when the vehicle detects a front passenger, it still resolutely greys out the address entry box.
Another tip. When you key the vehicle off, make sure it’s actually switched off, not merely dormant in hybrid mode. I’ve walked away from the car thinking it was off and that the keyless system would then lock the car, only to return to it unlocked and with the engine running to power the air-con. Insurers will probably not take kindly to any claim if somebody avails themselves of your vehicle in this scenario.
It’s with some sadness that I hand the RAV4 Hybrid’s keys back. On-road and off, it’s been given a good workout and has only burnished its reputation. In terms of sheer everyday utility, I can’t think of another new vehicle I’d rather own for the money. Chapeau, Toyota.
TOYOTA RAV4 GXL HYBRID
Price as tested: $42,934
This month: 2998km @ 5.4L/100km
Overall: 5434km @ 5.4L/100km