Australians can’t get enough of the Toyota RAV4, and as such, wait times for the model are beyond 12 months. Tom Fraser jumps behind the wheel to find out if it’s worth the wait.
- Well-built and roomy cabin
- Impressively unobtrusive petrol/hybrid drivetrain switch
- Genuinely fuel-efficient and close to Toyota’s claimed consumption
- Some annoying useability quirks
- So. Many. Beeps
- Simply can’t get one without having to wait
You might think one of the most desirable cars on the market could be a brand-new Ferrari or Aston Martin, but I’ve somehow been able to get my hands on the one thing everybody wants.
It’s a 2022 Toyota RAV4 – specifically a hybrid-powered Toyota RAV4!
These babies are in hot demand throughout the country, with wait times extending beyond 12 months in some cases. Even used examples of the current-gen Toyota RAV4 are hard to get, with some sellers pricing theirs above retail pricing.
Unfortunately for Toyota, this situation could be pushing buyers into alternatives such as the new Haval Hybrid H6 – stay tuned for that comparison.
In any case, the Toyota RAV4 has recently received a fresh look for the 2022 model year, with subtly facelifted headlights and a new-for-22 model grade – the XSE. Designated by a host of sinister-looking black styling accents, the XSE slots between existing the RAV4 GXL and the RAV4 Cruiser specifications, though unlike those two models the XSE is available as a hybrid only.
This 2022 Toyota RAV4 XSE Hybrid is priced from $43,250 before on-road costs, and I’ve priced one at $47,928 drive-away in Melbourne. For that spend you’re getting kit including an electric boot release, black exterior accent pack, dark headlining, 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster display, ambient cabin lighting, and heated front seats.
Under the bonnet is Toyota’s tried-and-true hybridised 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that sends 160kW to the front wheels in this example – you can buy an all-wheel drivetrain in XSE grade, but it comes at an extra $3000 cost.
|Key details||2022 Toyota RAV4 XSE Hybrid|
|Price (MSRP)||$43,250 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Silver Sky|
|Price as tested||$43,925 plus on-road costs
$47,928 (drive-away in Melbourne 3000)
|Rivals||Ford Escape | Mazda CX-5 | Kia Sportage|
The interior’s dark theme is accented by SofTex leatherette trim accented by blue upholstered seat inserts. They feel premium to the touch and provide a nice amount of support around the sides, while containing a good amount of adjustability to sit in that ideal driving position. A black headlining adds to the darker look, but the cabin is lit up again by ambient lighting throughout.
Materials used through the car are nice – it doesn’t really feel cheap at all – and the build quality feels like it’ll last. This is what you pay for when you select a Toyota – a known quantity that’s built to stand the test of time.
Space in the front row is great and everything is ergonomically sized and placed for ease of use. In fact, the instrumentation throughout the RAV4 scores a mention because it’s great to touch and use – big grippy dials to change volumes and air temperatures is what you want.
Storage-wise, the RAV4 contains a series of spots to store your items, such as the shelf below the dash (which includes a wireless phone charger), the two large cupholders in the centre console, and big door card slots for large bottles.
In the back seat there’s a nice amount of space. The RAV4 has grown incrementally in dimensions across its generations to accommodate a great amount of leg, head and foot room. There are air vents, two USB-A ports, and the seats recline for extra comfort.
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Praise must be levelled at the RAV4’s humungous boot – not only is it a sizeable 542L with the dual lever boot floor set to its highest position, or 580L when lowered, but it’s just super easy to load items into it with a low-loading floor and wheel wells that don’t cut into the available space.
I had a much easier time placing items in this boot than I’ve had putting things inside a large off-road SUV. On the negatives, the electric boot takes an age to work and beeps incessantly. Very annoying.
While we’re here complaining, I might add that when you come to a stop, the doors don’t unlock. Their handles don’t unlock, even if sitting in the front passenger seat, which is just a bit frustrating. It’s worse at night as the unlock doesn’t illuminate, so there’s a bit of a braille-reading experience trying to find which button to click to then undo. There’s a setting to change it, but a frustrating thing to deal with nonetheless.
|2022 Toyota RAV4 XSE Hybrid|
|Boot volume||580L seats up|
Infotainment and Connectivity
Fitted atop the RAV4’s dash is an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen. Embedded within the software is a native satellite navigation and digital radio (DAB+), though users can connect up their own Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring systems if preferred, via a wired connection.
I’m a fan of Toyota’s own software, particularly of its big blocky icons on the screen and shortcut buttons alongside the display to skip to various functions. There’s a handy home screen that can display map content, song information or favourite contacts, while all other screens and menu systems are easy to read and well-integrated.
A 7.0-inch instrument cluster display is nestled within traditional gauge dials, and shows a wealth of information that you can simply skip between using a D-pad on the steering wheel.
Toyota’s RAV4 is well-sorted in terms of safety kit and caboodle. It managed a five-star ANCAP rating upon its test back in 2019, and the XSE variant inherits this top-marks score.
Active safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, lane-departure warning, lane trace assist, blind-spot monitoring, speed sign recognition, auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross-traffic alert.
There are also seven airbags, two rear ISOFIX child seat mounts, and a reversing camera with dynamic rear guidelines that turn when you do.
For a mid-size SUV, Toyota’s $43,250 plus on-road costs asking price for the RAV4 XSE Hybrid compares fairly with its competitors, and within its own range alike. It’s arguably the new pick of the range and fills a sizeable gap that was left between the GXL and Cruiser previously.
The struggle comes when buyers go to order a new car. We’ve consistently heard of wait times beyond 12 months for hybrid RAV4s, which could push buyers to consider the new Haval H6 Hybrid at $45,990 drive-away.
|At a glance||2022 Toyota RAV4 XSE Hybrid|
|Warranty||Five years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$690 (3 years), $1150 (5 years)|
The Toyota is available with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, with service intervals taking place every 12 months or 15,000km – whichever is first. Each service costs a neat $230.
Against Toyota’s fuel claim of 4.7L/100km combined, we managed a recording of 5.3L/100km throughout a week of testing. This is pretty close to Toyota’s claim. Importantly, the RAV4 can be filled with 91 octane regular petrol – especially pertinent considering our expensive fuel pricing of late.
|Fuel Useage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||4.7L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||5.3L/100km|
|Fuel tank size||55L|
Now considering this vehicle is hybrid, one of the first things you’ll realise is how smoothly it comes on and off electric power. You barely even notice the switch-change between the two mediums, which makes the driving experience all the more comfortable.
Adding to that ease of transition is a continuously variable transmission that reacts well to changing speeds. It’s not overly drony or loud, which is a complaint sometimes levelled at CVTs.
The two-wheel-drive version’s 160kW and 221Nm outputs are put down to the ground effectively, with foot-down throttle inputs resulting in swift acceleration and convincing overtakes. It’s more than enough power for around-town use and further touring alike.
A Sport driving mode is available for zippier powertrain response, but I never required the setting. Likewise, Eco and full-EV drive modes are available. That said, it annoyingly doesn’t take long in EV mode to revert to petrol power – roughly 20–30km/h or a few hundred metres of tarmac is all the car’s battery can take, usually.
Ride comfort as well is nice. The RAV4 rolls over speedhumps without translating too much upset through to the cabin, and even little road imperfections are dealt with well. It mightn’t be as comfortable as key rivals the Hyundai Tucson or Kia Sportage, but it’s a smooth rider – no wonder Toyota gets so much business from ride-share operators.
It’s easy to manoeuvre about town thanks to the light steering, and its 4615mm body is simply reversed into tight parking spots. It’s generally a very well-rounded car to drive, no matter whether you’re in town or further afield.
|Key details||2022 Toyota RAV4 XSE Hybrid|
|Engine||2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid petrol|
|Power||131kW @5700 rpm petrol
|Torque||221Nm @ 3600–5200rpm petrol
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Continuously variable transmission|
|Power to weight ratio||94.7kW/t|
|Tow rating||480kg braked, 480kg unbraked|
Well, there is a reason why Toyota is sold out of these things for the foreseeable future. It is a great product that delivers keenly on its core purpose – offering a comfortable, quiet, reliable, and spacious medium SUV.
It plainly and simply sets the benchmark for fuel-efficient transport for the masses, and is particularly relevant for now where we’re being pinched on fuel prices.
The other part of the reason for its 12-month wait time is simply because it’s a Toyota. It’s the known quantity Australians go to. The extensive dealer network and low servicing costs are obvious drawcards. While not quite as headline-grabbing as newcomers such as the Kia Sportage, Toyota’s RAV4 soldiers on as the safe choice in an overpopulated segment.