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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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?
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.