21 January 2022

Canberra's favourite car just makes sense

| James Coleman
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Toyota RAV4

The bells are ringing – this was the best-selling car in Canberra last year. Photo: James Coleman.

More Canberrans bought the humble Toyota RAV4 than any other car in 2021, and from every angle, it’s easy to see why.

Paired back to the bare bones, a car is for moving you and your stuff from where you are to where you want to be. That’s Toyota’s unique selling point right there.

True, Toyotas aren’t the most exciting cars on the planet – the new Supra being a notable exception – but excitement has its limitations, as the electric Porsche Taycan showed.

Out of about 16,000 new cars bought in the ACT last year, the RAV4 accounted for 612 of them. It would seem it makes a lot of sense.

READ ALSO The figures are in: these are the top 10 cars Canberrans bought in 2021

In addition to being reliable, the RAV4 is also cheap to run. The model I tested is a hybrid, so it’s fitted with a conventional petrol engine, but to save fuel and the planet (or your conscience), there’s an electric motor as well.

Toyotas are where the bulk of the hybrid action is. In fact, 90 per cent of the hybrid market share in Australia is owned by the Japanese brand.

Toyota RAV4

Maroon meets plum. Photo: James Coleman.

For the safety-conscious, the RAV4, true to its SUV roots, is all-wheel drive, and who knows what you will encounter out ‘there’? A sand dune, perhaps? The odd slippery patch of mud? Oh, heaven forbid, a kerb? No fear – you’ve covered that base.

It’s also packed with safety features. Perhaps too many.

There are so many beeps and bongs going on it’s hard to know if you’ve simply opened a door or are in imminent danger of wiping out a multi-storey.

Practicalities aside, the RAV4 is certainly handsome enough, especially when fitted with gloss black wheels like mine, but more importantly, for the average buyer, it is shaped like a big box. This makes it very easy to park, even if it has been growing progressively fatter since the original 1994 bubble car Australia fell in love with.

Toyota RAV4

All is soft to the touch inside. Photo: James Coleman.

Toyota’s first ‘Recreational Active Vehicle with 4WD’, or RAV4, for short, can be blamed for kickstarting the whole SUV craze, widely considered the first of the type. A fully electric option was even on offer for a few years before silently disappearing as Toyota turned all of their boffins’ heads towards hybrid technology.

READ ALSO Is the hybrid a quick-fix for Australia’s current EV issues?

They’ve been working on this for so long now, not surprisingly, they’re exceptionally good at it. I would say you don’t notice when the engine chips in, but you can. It’s easy to think a tank might be idling away under the bonnet somewhere.

That is, of course, the way drivetrains are going.

The silky-smooth V6 engines are dying out and being replaced with microscopic four-cylinder jobs that sip fuel like it were fine Scotch but have to rev their valves out the top of the bonnet in order to wring out any discernible kilowatts.

Toyota RAV4

Surprisingly little under the bonnet. Photo: James Coleman.

The genius of the hybrid, though, is the two engines. The result is plenty sprightly enough. A slightly dated graph on the screen shows all this in action, with arrows of different colours pulsing between the battery, engine and electric motor depending on what your feet are doing.

And like a video game, you even get a score at the end of your trip – an Eco Rating out of 100. My high score was 62. What’s yours?

Toyota RAV4

The handsome beast has grown considerably since 1994. Photo: James Coleman.

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Cruiser

  • From $45,000 driveaway
  • 2.5-litre 4-cylinder hybrid, 163 kW
  • Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
  • 4.7 litres per 100 km fuel combined
  • Five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Visit Canberra Toyota for more information.

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Capital Retro10:58 am 25 Jan 22

“The Hilux has been made in Thailand for ages. Still up the top.”

Well, not at the top with the full range: https://www.whichcar.com.au/car-news/toyota-dpf-class-action-2020

I’m not sure what the RAV4 Hybrid is trying to be?
Yes, the regenerative function helps with fuel economy around town and that’s great but it’s not an EV.
Toyota has been groundbreaking with it’s hybrids, but they are starting to look a bit old school now, with Plug-in Hybrids and full EV options from other manufacturers.

I have an old ICE and I’m torn what to replace it with.
I can see some advantages of both types of hybrids, but you are still have the costs of maintaining an ICE.

I like the idea of EVs, but they are ridiculously priced and I can’t see that changing because our population is small and the geographical size of the country more supports the longer term use of ICEs.
Recharging stations will come, but I see the battery replacement issue as being a major concern; something that rapidly depreciates the car’s value after 7-8 years. The higher purchase price and possibly rapid depreciation makes me think they are not an economic option. They certainly aren’t a carbon neutral option, despite the marketing hype. They are lower carbon useage, during their operational life. That’s all.

But in 2022, do I just buy an ICE? If a dealer has stock.
Maybe a diesel for the extra fuel economy and torque?
Maybe a hybrid is still an option?
There seems to be too many options, but none of them are good.

Another unnecessary oversized box taking up too much space. The closest they will get to going offroad will be driving through roadworks.

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