Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Toyota RAV4 2022 review: Cruiser Hybrid AWD

The RAV4 is ridiculously popular, but is it really the best? (Image: Tom White)
  • DrivetrainHybrid
  • Battery typeNickel-hydride
  • Electric motor output88kW/202Nm
  • Combustion engine output131kW/221Nm
  • Combined output168kW/221Nm
  • Petrol efficiency4.8L/100km
Complete Guide to Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is ridiculously, stupendously popular. To give you an idea, over the course of this year it has outsold the Subaru Forester, Hyundai Tucson, and Kia Sportage combined.

Add this to a comfortable margin over its nearest competitor, the Mazda CX-5, and you have a totally dominant car in one of Australia’s most hotly contested segments.

In fact, the RAV4’s success is, in a way, working against it, because if you’ve tried to order a hybrid variant, like the top-spec Cruiser hybrid we’re looking at for this review, you’ll know the waiting list is, on average, nine to 10 months long.

Apologies in advance if you are reading this with the intention of ordering one and you aren’t already in the queue.

It's a long wait for the popular hybrid RAV4. (Image: Tom White) It's a long wait for the popular hybrid RAV4. (Image: Tom White)

But can Toyota’s mid-sizer live up to this seemingly ridiculous hype? Is it all the SUV it’s made out to be in such a ferociously contested segment? Or are you better off with a car which, in all likelihood, will be delivered much sooner?

I felt weirdly privileged to get to drive such an in-demand but mainstream vehicle to find out.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

We’re looking at one of the most in-demand variants of the RAV4 range, the Cruiser hybrid, which sits below the angrier-looking and non-hybrid Edge AWD but above the mid-grade GXL on the price scale.

Wearing a before on-roads price tag (MSRP) of $46,415, the Cruiser certainly ain’t at the cheap end of the mid-size SUV price scale.

To make things worse, a cursory search on Autotrader reveals people are apparently paying nearly $60K to skip the queue for even a lightly used example, so good luck wrangling a better price from a dealer.

Standard equipment includes 18-inch gloss black alloys. (Image: Tom White) Standard equipment includes 18-inch gloss black alloys. (Image: Tom White)

The stock shortfall can hardly be blamed on Toyota, though, which like many other brands this year, is facing multiple issues to do with both COVID-related logistics issues and the seemingly ever-present microprocessor shortage.

Price fluctuations aside, at the stated price the RAV4 Cruiser hybrid goes up against the Hyundai Tucson Elite (turbo-petrol AWD - $43,000), Mazda CX-5 (GT AWD petrol - $47,190), although is perhaps better rivalled in the hybrid space by the Subaru Forester (Hybrid S - $47,190).

As a reminder of how busy this space is, there is also the new-generation Mitsubishi Outlander (which is seven-seat, but the hybrid isn’t here yet) and Kia Sportage (although, no hybrid at launch) to consider.

If you really want to go harder on electrification, there’s always MG’s HS PHEV (Essence - $47,990) to consider.

Standard equipment includes 18-inch gloss black alloys, an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, built in navigation, and digital radio, dual-zone climate control, synthetic leather interior trim with heated front seats and 10-way power adjust for the driver, a 7.0-inch semi-digital dash cluster, wireless phone charging bay, nine-speaker JBL audio system, a panoramic reversing camera, ambient interior lighting, a power tailgate, keyless entry with push-start ignition, and a (non-panoramic) sunroof.

Featuring an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. (Image: Tom White) Featuring an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. (Image: Tom White)

The Cruiser has specific exterior trimmings in chrome to differentiate it from the GXL and Edge, although it's missing some items like a holographic head-up display, and fully digital dash cluster, which is starting to make this high-spec car feel a little dated.

The same goes for the 8.0-inch multimedia screen, which is the same one appearing in the base GX, starting to look tiny in comparison to the 10+ inch screens starting to appear in rival models.

Still, most buyers are drawn in by the promise of Toyota’s silky smooth hybrid drive and trim running costs, which we’ll look at later.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The RAV4 is unmistakably a Toyota, despite the brand not really committing to a consistent design ethos across its range.

Perhaps this is more to do with Toyota’s huge range of vehicles, but the RAV4 only shares its design elements with the smaller Yaris Cross and larger Kluger, straying from other vehicles in the Toyota range like the swoopy Corolla, Camry, and C-HR.

As I said in my previous 2019 review of the RAV4, though, it looks miles better than the previous generation offering, with chunky, angular fittings and sturdy stance alluding to its enhanced abilities and modern underpinnings.

Evidently, its modern and inoffensive approach to exterior design appeals to the majority of Aussie mid-size SUV buyers, with sales through the roof, and the Cruiser catches even more eyes with its gloss black wheels and chrome highlights standing out from the legions of GXLs on the road.

Toyota's modern and inoffensive approach to exterior design is appealing. (Image: Tom White) Toyota's modern and inoffensive approach to exterior design is appealing. (Image: Tom White)

However, the chrome accents on the doorhandles are a bit yesteryear, and those gloss 18-inch wheels which ship on the hybrid version might not be for everyone.

Inside offers an equally conservative but modern approach, with the angular lines of the exterior flowing through to the dash.

While it is a bit of a slate-of-grey in here, I do appreciate the attention to detail in the textures on the dials and switches, while a consistent rhomboidal pattern appears on the floor of this SUV’s many storage areas. If you’ve sat in a Kluger or Yaris Cross, you’ll have seen this pattern before.

The synthetic leather-clad wheel is very similar to ones which appear in the Corolla and C-HR, and it’s a pleasantly simple and ergonomic touchpoint, pairing with the similar dash layout for an easy-to-use and understand space for the driver.

The synthetic leather-clad wheel is very similar to ones in the Corolla and C-HR. (Image: Tom White) The synthetic leather-clad wheel is very similar to ones in the Corolla and C-HR. (Image: Tom White)

The screens are looking small in this day and age though, with dated software now feeling off-the-pace compared to more recent arrivals in this space.

The synthetic leather seats in this Cruiser grade are no doubt hard-wearing, but certainly don’t feel as plush as alternatives in this segment, particularly when this car’s number one rival is the very nicely appointed Mazda CX-5.

Despite this, the RAV4’s cabin leaves you with an impression of spaciousness and capability, with enough neat little details to keep it interesting.

How practical is the space inside?

Not only does the RAV4 feel spacious from the passenger seat, it is incredibly spacious in the cabin. I’d go so far as to say the RAV4 has one of the most spacious cabins in the mid-size segment, although there are one or two small areas where it could use improvement for a car at this price.

There are huge bottle holders and bins in the doors, huge bottle holders in the centre console, a large armrest box area, and a large bay with wireless charger and power outlets under the climate unit.

The cabin is excellent when it comes to ergonomics, with dials for volume, tuning, and both climate zones, as well as shortcut buttons for everything.

The cabin is excellent when it comes to ergonomics. (Image: Tom White) The cabin is excellent when it comes to ergonomics. (Image: Tom White)

There’s no wireless phone mirroring though, so you’ll still need to clutter the design with wires if you’re connecting to the touchscreen this way, and for a top-spec car, it’s notably missing electrical seat adjust for the passenger. Still, space and visibility are excellent up front.

The back seat also provides ample space for adults, with leagues of leg, arm, and headroom available to me behind my own seating position (I’m 182cm tall).

It also feels big and airy thanks to the blocky roofline and huge windows, and it’s nice to see the soft trims in the doors continue to the rear to provide elbow support.

The back seat provides ample space for adults. (Image: Tom White) The back seat provides ample space for adults. (Image: Tom White)

The seats are on a slight adjustable recline, and unlike some rivals, are not on rails, limiting the adjustability of the base.

Regardless, rear passengers are treated to a large bottle holder in the door, two smaller ones in the drop-down armrest, small pockets on the backs of the front seats, dual power outlets, and dual adjustable air vents.

Surprisingly for an all-wheel drive model, the transmission tunnel is surprisingly low-profile, an extra benefit if you need to put an adult in the centre seat.

While the rear doors are huge, they share the common Toyota problem of not opening all the way to 90 degrees, perhaps limiting the ease of fitting child seats in the outer rear seats.

The boot is huge at 580 litres (VDA), and even the rear wheel arch claddings have been squared out a little to help maximise the available space.

The boot is huge at 580 litres (VDA). (Image: Tom White) The boot is huge at 580 litres (VDA). (Image: Tom White)

The loading lip is also very low and flat to the floor making it remarkably easy to hoist objects up and into into the boot. It easily consumed our entire CarsGuide luggage set with ample space to spare.

There is still ample space to spare when luggage is accounted for. (Image: Tom White) There is still ample space to spare when luggage is accounted for. (Image: Tom White)

There’s also a small netted area on the dirver’s side of the boot to secure smaller objects, and a large underfloor space which houses a space-saver spare wheel.

A large underfloor houses a space-saver spare wheel. (Image: Tom White) A large underfloor houses a space-saver spare wheel. (Image: Tom White)

The RAV4 continues to offer one of the largest and most family-friendly cabins in this mid-size SUV class, with a clear preference for interior volume over a coupe-like design preferred by many of its competitors.

What are the key stats for the powertrain?

The Cruiser hybrid AWD packs one of Toyota’s most renowned hybrid systems. It consists of a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 131kW/221Nm, which combines with an electric motor front and rear, producing 88kW/202Nm and 40kW/121Nm, respectively.

Toyota says the system combined can produce a peak of 163kW. It drives the wheels either directly via the electric motors, or via a continuously variable automatic transmission when running in parallel.

The Cruiser hybrid AWD packs one of Toyota’s most renowned hybrid systems. (Image: Tom White) The Cruiser hybrid AWD packs one of Toyota’s most renowned hybrid systems. (Image: Tom White)

This all sounds complicated, but one of the reasons Toyota hybrid systems are so popular is because, for the most part, none of this complexity is communicated to the driver.

The system is silky smooth in operation, and especially around town is great at minimising time where the engine is doing most of the pulling.

There is a mild regenerative braking system paired to the brake pedal, and the high voltage components are backed by a 1.5kWh hybrid battery using an older-style nickel-metal hydride technology.

How much does it consume? What’s the range like, and what it’s like to recharge/refuel?

For such a relatively large vehicle, the official/combined fuel consumption figure of just 4.8L/100km seems unbelievable, but the brilliance of this hybrid system is it’s never far from the mark.

This is because it is great at switching the engine off as much as possible and squeezing as much time as it can from the electric motors in a million ways most drivers will never notice.

In my time with the Cruiser hybrid, it produced a dash-reported 6.4L/100km over what I would consider a realistic mix of driving conditions for most city dwellers.

Again, speaking to the popularity of the RAV4 hybrid variants, few cars can come close. The brilliance of the ‘self-charging’ hybrid system is it will save you fuel regardless of how you drive it.

The ‘self-charging’ hybrid system will save you fuel. (Image: Tom White) The ‘self-charging’ hybrid system will save you fuel. (Image: Tom White)

But if you do pay closer attention there are further fuel savings to be had, as particular driving habits will allow you to extract even more time on the electric motors alone.

As this is an EV Guide review, I should point out here that while the Toyota hybrid system might be a prudent economical choice, it is not necessarily a better environmental one.

While you’ll burn less fuel, as you can’t charge this car any other way, it’s electrical drive features still carry an emissions burden. The 2.5-litre engine is only Euro 4 compliant, making it out-of-date on this front.

The RAV4 Cruiser hybrid AWD has a 55-litre fuel tank and can even consume entry-level 91RON fuel (again, great for the back pocket, less good for mother nature…).

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The RAV4 offers most of its ‘Safety Sense’ active technology suite across the entire RAV4 range, with the Cruiser having every possible fitment.

This means freeway-speed auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection (works during the day and night) and cyclist detection (only during the day), lane keep assist with lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, driver attention alert, as well as surround parking cameras with front and rear sensors.

The RAV4 offers most of its ‘Safety Sense’ active technology suite across the RAV4 range. (Image: Tom White) The RAV4 offers most of its ‘Safety Sense’ active technology suite across the RAV4 range. (Image: Tom White)

Elsewhere the RAV4 scores seven airbags (dual front, dual side, dual curtain, with a driver’s knee), dual ISOFIX child seat mounting points and three top-tethers across the rear row.

The RAV4 range carries a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating to the 2019 standards, scoring remarkably well across the authority’s four categories.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Toyota continues to cover its range with a competitive five year and unlimited kilometre warranty, which extends to seven years for powertrain components if you continue to use genuine Toyota servicing.

The battery warranty also extends out to 10 years if the schedule is adhered to. Roadside assist is not included but can be added separately.

Servicing, as always, is a real strong point for Toyota. The RAV4 will need to visit the shop once every 12 months or 15,000km whichever occurs first, but importantly the capped price service program is astoundingly cheap, with the yearly average cost for the first five years of ownership working out to just $215. Wow.

What's it like to drive?

Every aspect of the Toyota RAV4 from behind the wheel is easy. Hop into the driver’s seat and you’re immediately greeted by an ergonomic space, and commanding view of the road, which combines with the nice touchpoints of the shifter and wheel to create a great first impression.

Kicking off is easy with the silent initial torque from the electric motors which make up the hybrid system, and this makes accelerating in stop-start traffic a pleasure as there are no transmission issues to worry about.

The steering is pleasingly light, making this SUV feel easy to point, but maintains just enough feedback to not have you questioning what the front wheels are doing at any given moment.

The RAV4 steering is pleasingly light. (Image: Tom White) The RAV4 steering is pleasingly light. (Image: Tom White)

Toyota’s prowess in platform development is on full show when it comes to the RAV4’s ride, which manages to provide superior levels of comfort to many of its competitors whilst keeping roll and pitch under control in the corners.

It’s a stark contrast to something like Mazda’s engaging CX-5, but I think the softer ride combines with the sensible small wheel/large tyre combination on this hybrid to grant the Toyota better family comfort attributes.

Again, the hybrid drive is seamless in the way it blends the push of the electric motors with that of the 2.5-litre engine.

Around town it’s super smooth and quiet, but the combustion component in particular is one of this car’s weak points. If you need to ask a lot of it (as you will under heavier acceleration), it can get noisy quickly.

At higher speeds or overtaking where the electric motors are of less use, it drones away in the background, taking away from this car’s otherwise pleasant ambiance.

The hybrid drive is seamless. (Image: Tom White) The hybrid drive is seamless. (Image: Tom White)

That said, the point of this system is ease-of-use, and no matter how you drive it, the hybrid system will save you fuel along the way.

If you choose to become more engaged with it, the car will even coach you on your driving style, and you can monitor how your inputs are affecting the way power is sent to the wheels.

It becomes a fun game to try and maximise your use of the electric systems rather than the combustion ones, and you’ll be rewarded with better fuel consumption as well as even greater refinement.

It’s easy to see why this Toyota sells so well. Everything from behind the wheel is so easy. It might not be the most engaging mid-size SUV on the market, but its certainly one of the sleekest and most comfortable to drive.

  • DrivetrainHybrid
  • Battery typeNickel-hydride
  • Electric motor output88kW/202Nm
  • Combustion engine output131kW/221Nm
  • Combined output168kW/221Nm
  • Petrol efficiency4.8L/100km
Complete Guide to Toyota RAV4

A week behind the wheel of one of the most popular RAV4 variants is a stark reminder of why this car has won hearts in such a big way.

It’s just easy. It looks inoffensive, has a massive cabin, rides well, saves you fuel, and offers the level of electrification which Australians are most ready for. 

$46,415

Based on new car retail price

Score

4.2/5
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.